By Michael Davis Jr., Navy Installations Command Public Affairs
One hundred and twenty five Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP) staff members from across the enterprise gathered on the historic Washington Navy Yard to receive employment readiness training to better help Sailors and their families find employment May 2-4.
Thirty two presenters from various federal agencies, military service organizations and veterans' service organizations provided Navy Work and Family Life (WFL) consultants, at the region and installation level, with updated information on policies and resources to equip them with the necessary tools to help service members and their families successfully transition out of the military and obtain employment.
"This is just an opportunity for us to come together to really discuss and share best practices about what others are doing at different organizations or programs across the installations," said Renee' Harris, WFL Program Manager.
The WFL program supports mission readiness through many different areas such as deployment support and personal financial management, to name a few. However, this particular training focused on the Family Employment Readiness Program, which helps military families with employment challenges, and the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which is designed to ensure Sailors are best prepared to transition from military to civilian life.
Navy Mid-Atlantic Regional WFL Coordinator Douglas J. Morfeld, and Navy Mid-Atlantic Regional Transition Assistance Program Coordinator Amanda L. Slosson, both came from the same region but were able to receive specific training in their own particular roles in providing assistance to Sailors and their families.
Morfeld said that while in the training, he learned that the unemployment rate for military families is over 20 percent, and that this collective training provided a chance to discuss the problem and think about possible solutions to this issue.
"This [employment readiness training] gives the opportunity for regional staff like myself to come together to talk about the issues...to listen to these briefs, especially with our partners - the veterans administration, the small business administration, as well as the department of labor - to see what's new with them, to see what they can bring to the table to help us help those spouses find employment," Morfeld said.
When it comes to TAP, Slosson said she notices issues as well but they vary depending on the specific location of a particular Sailor and family member.
"I think overall, service members are in favor of the way programing has gone," Slosson said. "It is better, it is bigger, and it is bigger than when I separated out, TAP wasn't mandated. I think the resources are there. The challenge currently remains to be how to navigate the resources. So it's not a matter of stuff not being available to support the transition, it's making sure that it's easily assessable and navigated properly so they can utilize it and that's where the collaboration comes into play between the centers, the partner agencies, and more importantly the community resources where the installation is."
Some of the others organizations who presented at the three-day employment readiness training were LinkedIn, Hiring Our Heroes, United Service Organizations Transition Service, and AmeriCorps. The Department of Defense also provided training on Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), Military Spouse Transition Program (MySTeP) and Spouse Preference & Priority Placement Program in the federal hiring process.
WFL staff members at Navy Installations Command headquarters also offered updated information to the region and installation WFL consultants who attended the training.
"We try to host one large scale training annually, but all work and family life programs offer training regularly throughout the year," Harris said.
Under the chief of naval operations, Navy Installations Command is responsible for providing support services for the fleet, fighter, and family with more than 53,000 military and civilian personnel under 11 regions and 71 installations worldwide.