CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
You’re 180 days out from your final out of the Air Force. Whether you’re happy, emotional, ready or unprepared, separation is a complicated affair for servicemembers and their families. You may have an idea of programs available, but which ones should you use?
If you’re planning to secure a job for your time after the Air Force, the Career Skills Program might be the best and most convenient option.
The CSP is a Department of Defense initiative to help retiring or separating military members obtain employment upon their separation from military service. It provides eligible service members with a job training and career development experience to acquire employment skills, knowledge or abilities to assist them with job opportunities in the civilian sector.
According to Maria Law, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron education and training services section chief, the program is an essential transition tool.
“Airmen should prepare for separation with an education and [the] skills to be competitive in the civilian job market,” Law said.
This is a self-initiated program for Airmen to participate in one of the CSP types: apprenticeship, internship, on-the-job training and job shadowing. The location of the job is normally required to be within 50 miles of the local area. However, with approval from the Airman’s commander, the distance can be extended.
Finding this site is the Airman’s responsibility, as well as the vetting checklist completed between them and their future employer. The Airman can even begin their involvement with their company whilst in the military through means of permissive temporary deployment or during terminal leave.
For Senior Airman Jeffrey Waldron, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and construction equipment journeyman, it’s a valuable experience to gain before making the transition.
“This process can aid Airmen because it gives them the chance to step out of the military life and see what it’s like to work with a civilian employer,” Waldron said. “It can potentially set you up for future employments.”
Waldron is separating soon from the Air Force to experience career opportunities beyond. Like, Staff Sgt. Jared Craft, 727th Special Operations Air Maintenance Squadron MQ-1/9 crew chief, was interested in the CSP. Now, he’s currently in the process of completing his internship at his first job.
“Essentially, the program allows you to leave your duty station up to 180 days prior to you date of separation and engage in an internship or apprenticeship program for a civilian company while retaining your military pay and benefits,” Craft explained. “I decided to pursue this and landed an internship with an Aerial Firefighting company as a mechanic.”
Some of the biggest stressors of separation comes from not knowing if someone will find a good job or if they’ll enjoy it once it’s been found. That’s where the CSP can help, Craft said.
“Have a realistic and attainable plan,” Craft said. “Know what you need to succeed and set it up before you get out. Having a job lined up is a lot less stress than moving to a different city and trying to find a new job before your savings run out.”
Whatever reason or justification you can come up with, the CSP is a must for those who have education and employment in mind after separating from the Air Force. For information on the program, contact the base education office at 575-784-4184.