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October 13, 2016

New Fort Drum Program Connects Transitioning Service Members and Spouses to Military-Friendly Employers

New Fort Drum Program Connects Transitioning Service Members and Spouses to Military-Friendly Employers

The Onward to Opportunity (O2O) career training program is hosting its first class in the North Country at Fort Drum.

Fort Drum, NY (October 10, 2016) – On Thursday, September 15, 2016, 47 service members and military family members from the Fort Drum Military Community began their Onward to Opportunity (O2O) journeys. O2O is currently the only career skills program on the base that is offered at no cost and does not require GI Bill benefits. The career skills training program connects transitioning service members and active duty military spouses to high-demand careers such as customer service and information technology. Students graduate the course with industry-validated training and credentials. The benefit to employers is reduced recruiting and hiring costs from hiring the trained and qualified graduates of the O2O program.

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In the next five years, more than one million military members and their families will transition to civilian life. For many, finding employment will be the most challenging part of their transition. O2O brings together curriculum development and program delivery expertise from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and the support of career coaching and mentoring by Hire Heroes USA. The program is funded by the Schultz Family Foundation (SFF).

“The Onward to Opportunity program has the potential to fundamentally shift how the private sector engages and supports our service members and their families as they navigate to civilian employment,” says Dr. J. Michael Haynie, Executive Director and Founder of IVMF and Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University. “O2O’s ‘pipeline’ approach to workforce skills training, now being offered at Fort Drum, allows transitioning service members to receive training aligned with present and future demand in the labor market, supporting a ‘job-ready’ transition from military service to the civilian world of work.”

Offered on U.S. military installations across the country, O2O provides in-person and online training designed to prepare the next generation of leaders in today’s economy. The program partners with leading veteran service organizations and private sector companies to identify employers committed to training and hiring veterans and military spouses. These employer-partners are engaged throughout each phase of O2O delivery by assisting in curriculum design, interacting with participants as they progress through the program and identifying specific career paths and interview opportunities within their company that align with the skillsets of graduates.

O2O is coordinated through the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) being offered at Fort Drum to members of all services, to include the Selective Reserve, and all spouses of Active Duty service members.  For more information, visit: onward2opportunity.org.

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Media Contacts:

Fort Drum Public Affairs Contact: Kae Young, 315.772.5463, Kathleen.L.Young4.civ@mail.mil

IVMF: AJ Florkowski, O2O National Program Manager, IVMF, 315.807.2296, ajflorko@syr.edu

About Onward to Opportunity (O2O)
O2O is a no-cost career skills program—with no use of GI Bill benefits—offering in-demand, industry-validated training and credentials to transitioning service members and active-duty military spouses. Offered on U.S. military installations across the country, O2O provides in-person and online training followed by job placement assistance to the next generation of leaders of America’s economy. O2O employers are committed to training and hiring veterans and military spouses. These employer partners are engaged throughout each phase of O2O delivery by assisting in curriculum design, interacting with participants as they progress through the program and identifying specific career paths and interview opportunities within their company that align with the skillsets of our graduates. Read more at: onward2opportunity.com

About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)
The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Read more at vets.syr.edu.

About the Schultz Family Foundation (SFF)
Announced this spring in conjunction with U.S. Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Ashton Carter, Onward to Opportunity is the latest initiative of the foundation co-founded by Starbucks chairman and chief executive officer Howard Schultz and his wife Sheri Schultz. The SFF, established in 1996 by Howard and Sheri Schultz, creates pathways of opportunity for populations facing barriers to success. The Foundation invests in innovative solutions and partnerships that unlock people’s potential and strengthen our businesses, our communities and our nation. In March 2014, the SFF launched Onward Veterans, a national initiative that empowers post-9/11and their families to successfully transition to civilian life. For more information about the Foundation and its work: schultzfamilyfoundation.org

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