Life in the military is very different than in the civilian world. Marines living in the barracks don’t worry about rent, and most civilians don’t wake up at 5 a.m. for physical training.
Due to the current military downsizing, many Marines and sailors are preparing to leave the service to pursue civilian careers. To help with the transition, service members are offered the Goals, Plans, Success course to learn how to use their military experience and benefits in the civilian work force.
“There is a ton of great information,” said Amanda McComb, an instructor for the course. “We give detailed information on how to get into college and how to pay for college.”
The instructors at GPS research the topics and help answer any questions the soon-to-be civilians have.
“If they come here with less than 90 days to their [end of active service], it’s overwhelming,” said Patrick L. Nalty, transition assistance coordinator with Marine Corps Community Services. “It’s like drinking out of a fire hose. It can be a lot of information. If a Marine gets here about a year from his EAS, it gives him time to use the information.”
The training has different classes for the career route that the separating service member may be interested in. They include joining the workforce directly, going to school, and entrepreneurship.
“As they go through the week of GPS, they have individual transition plans that they fill out with specific information on their situation,” said McComb, 32, from Murrieta, Calif. “Since every participant is going to a different place and either working or going to school, they are able to record those details for themselves.”
The service members are given comfort when they learn how to access their benefits and strategize on how to successfully reach their goals.
“The students are mostly excited to be here, and information about getting into school,” said McComb. “They want to use their GI Bill benefits, and prepare for a successful career once they separate.”
The goal of GPS is for the service members to have a clear plan on the next steps of their life.
“If you are not prepared to transition it can be a difficult road to travel, so I enjoy doing what I do,” said Nalty. “As a total group of instructors, we hope we reach everybody.”