Monday, February 24, 2014

Fairchild airmen study up on future

Senior Airman Desiree StraughnAbout 50 airmen explored life after the military at a Fairchild Air Force Base resource fair last Wednesday.

Senior Airman Desiree Straughn came in empty-handed, but quickly gathered an armful of fliers, brochures, and pamphlets.

“I love this,” said Straughn, who has a year of service left. “Knowing there are so many options and so many people supporting the military is really awesome—and my brain is on overload right now with all the information.”

The fair is called the Fairchild AFB Quarterly Transition Assistance Capstone event. It’s a joint effort of the Fairchild Airman and Family Readiness Center and the Base Education Center, and a key component of the Transition Assistance program, which helps service members prepare for separation or retirement, said Barry Miller, education services specialist at Fairchild. Many attendees already had months or even years of preparation, including workshops on resume writing, interviewing, entrepreneurship and veterans benefits.

“This is the culmination before they transition out,” Miller said. “We wanted to let them actually meet local agencies.”

Among the 22 presenters were representatives of area universities, law enforcement agencies, and a truck-driver training school.

Washington State University Global Campus representative Kathreen Miller said she gave out dozens of fliers. “People here are very serious about their future,” she said, “and are looking for an online degree from a highly regarded university.”

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Washington State Patrol Trooper Kyle Witt was kept busy fielding questions from interested airmen. Witt said the WSP’s paramilitary-style training and structure make it a good fit for the military. “We have quite a few veterans,” said Witt, who served in the Air Force from 1995-’98.

Many airmen already have a lot of driving experience, said Barbara Kayser, office manager and recruiter for Driver Training and Solutions, which makes them excellent candidates to fill the growing need for truckers. “Since the Post 9/11 GI Bill kicked in,” she said, “we’ve trained about 150 veterans.”

Straughn topped off her stack of fliers with a couple from WSU Global Campus. She wants to go into social work—“I think I can help people”—and was trying to figure out the best path:

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about online classes so I’m going to try it and see if it’s for me,” she said. “But I’ve got a lot of thinking to do. And a lot of decisions to make.”

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