Story and photo by Spc. Robert Holland
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Sgt. Jose Rosario was one of many Soldiers transitioning out of the Army who attended an educational fair at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, May 22, hosted by the SFAC staff, in conjunction with the Department of Defense’s Education and Employment initiative.
Rosario, motor transport operator, 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, said he had planned on staying in for a full 20 years, but due to medical issues outside of his control, his service to his country is going to be cut short. Rosario is medically separating from the Army, but he said he is not worried because he has utilized programs, designed by the DOD and Army, to specifically assist Soldiers who are transitioning back into the civilian sector. He said these programs have helped guide him in the right direction.
“This is my third education fair,” Rosario said. “Events like these help me a lot. Sometimes when I get home at the end of the day, and I have all my medical problems and the associated stresses running through my mind, I can get discouraged.
“Events like this college fair, and the people at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center looking to help me, motivate me and make this process a lot easier,” he said.
Diane Magrane, SFAC education service specialist, said the earlier the Soldiers reach out for assistance, the more beneficial these programs can be.
“We are hosting this joint initiative event to make sure that we have resources and services readily available for those Soldiers getting out of the service on a medical discharge,” Magrane said. “Events like this help educate the Soldiers to what their educational benefits are and what opportunities they may have available to them upon separation, or during their transition out of the military.”
Representatives from numerous local colleges, training programs, the Wounded Warrior Project, Troops to Teachers, and the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Education were on hand to assist and educate the Soldiers in figuring out what ways they could secure their future outside the Army.
“We got a lot of different universities involved in the community that are helping our transitioning Soldiers see what’s available and also get a better understanding for what programs are available to the Soldiers here at Fort Carson,” said Bill Price, region coordinator, DOD’s Education and Employment Initiative. “The overall goal is to make sure when a Soldier leaves the military they have some place to go. We do not find them a job or a school to attend, but we do introduce them to educational opportunities, employers and employer networks.”
Both Price and Magrane stressed the importance of Soldiers being proactive during the separation process.
“Soldiers should use their time during the medical separation process to be proactive; to get an idea of what they are going to do,” Magrane said. “Sometimes it is just deciding what they want to be when they grow up; it’s all about being proactive. You do not want to wait until you have your separation papers in hand and are clearing post to come into the center or any of the other agencies and say ‘OK, now what do I do?’ The sooner a Soldier comes in for help, the better.”