By Debbie Gregory.
For the 11,000 soldiers who transition back into civilian life through Fort Hood each year, some tap their GI Bill benefits and head to college. Other may find civilian jobs right away. But for many, the skills they learned in the military don’t often translate well to corporate America.
Col. Matt Elledge, Fort Hood’s outgoing garrison commander, made it his mission to help every one of Fort Hood’s transitioning soldiers line up a job or a slot in school prior to them leaving the Army.
While it may seem as though he had bitten off more than he could chew, Elledge was up to the task. And the four initiatives he launched to help ease transition may be the most memorable legacy of his 27 year military career.
Elledge’s Heroes Corporate Fellowship Academy places soldiers, mostly officers, with local companies for an intensive, 13-week fellowship program.
The soldiers are given projects to manage. This “foot in the door” approach allows the soldiers to get real world business experience while giving the employers a chance to see the quality “soft skills” the soldiers bring to the table. The goal is for participating companies hire the soldiers after their fellowships.
The Shifting Gears program, sponsored by General Motors, is a 12-week training program that results in priority access to employment opportunities as a Certified GM Service Technician at GM dealerships and repair centers nationwide.
Veterans in Piping teaches key pipe-fitting and welding skills to prepare veterans for the construction boom of the near future.
Operation Austin teaches soldiers about marketing themselves for life after the military. For example, soldiers get hands-on assistance on developing LinkedIn profiles, translating their military skills, etc.
In a July 2nd change of command ceremony, Elledge relinquished his command to Col. Todd Fox.
Elledge thanked the Fort Hood community for their service and dedication to those who serve.
“I got to serve the Soldiers and families of Fort Hood and be a part of the Central Texas community, and I can think of nothing better,” Elledge said. “It is truly been humbling and such an honor.”
We thank Col. Elledge for his service, and for his commitment to all of the Soldiers who served under his command.
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Leaving a Lasting Legacy: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory