And it's turning to
The two-year pilot is part of the
The program has limited resources, but the pilot could help officials refocus those resources where they are most needed, said retired Col.
Those installations help roughly 30,000 combined soldiers leave active duty each year.
"Our theory is that different types of soldiers need different types of assistance," Herd said. "It makes sense. The point of this pilot is to prove it. Employment is the metric."
Under the pilot, some soldiers will only need to finish some of the current requirements for the transition program.
That will free up counselors to work with soldiers who need more help, Herd said.
"My expectations and my hope is that soldiers at greater risk of unemployment see a benefit," Herd said. "And those at less risk see no detriment."
"If that's the case, this will be a success," he said.
That takes on average more than 40 hours, spread over a year or two, officials said.
The more customized transition process will be based on an algorithm created from unemployment records.
That algorithm will use demographic data, such as age, rank, gender, military occupation, education and where they will settle after the military to help predict which troops would be most and least likely to find employment after service.
"Based on about five years of history, we've come up with, in essence, an amortization table like your life insurance company has," Herd said.
Depending on how soldiers do on that table, Herd said they may only need to complete three-fourths or as little as half of the 12 transition requirements.
At each pilot site, half of all soldiers leaving active duty will stick with the old system.
The other half will leave the force under the more customized process.
But even within the pilot, there will be difference between installations.
The pilot program at
Such a request would need to come from a battalion commander, Herd said. And those commanders would not be able to change the soldier's requirement to fewer benchmarks without the soldier's approval.
Herd said he believes the latter that added input will prove better for the soldier.
"I believe battalion commanders and the chain of command have a unique ability to look at the soldier and give them good guidance," he said.
One thing that won't change across the pilot program is that soldiers will still be free to go above and beyond.
Even if a soldier is required to take fewer steps, counselors won't stop them from finishing the entire program.
Herd said soldiers who do that are more likely to find success in the civilian workplace.
"If a soldier waits until the end, the chance of success is low," Herd said.
All six of the pilot sites are large
Thousands of soldiers leave active duty from each every year.
"It is the center of the
The installation provides a good mix of different types of soldiers, across several major commands and jobs.
And more importantly, it's already a leader within the
"If you transition off of active duty at
About three-fourths of soldiers leaving
"Bragg is an excellent installation," Herd said. "There's some magic in the sauce here."
Herd attributes that success to
Herd spoke of the pilot program during one of those events, held at the
About 200 soldiers were scheduled to have interviews with potential employers during the hiring event, he said. All of the potential employers were vetted and soldiers matched accordingly.
"Probably about 80 percent are going to walk out of here with a job offer," Herd said. "That's huge."
The data gathered during the pilot could also lead to other improvements to the transition program.
"I'm an old combat soldier, and intelligence drives operations," Herd said.
For instance, he said unemployment data shows some military occupations are at greater risk for unemployment than others, and they may run counter to some thinking.
Infantrymen do quite well in the civilian job market, Herd said.
Meanwhile some support careers, such as truck drivers and human resources specialists, have tougher times finding jobs.
But the biggest differences are caused by education and rank.
A junior soldier with only a high school degree is more likely to have trouble finding a job than a senior soldier who has college certificates or degrees.
More senior soldiers are also more likely to "go early and go often" to the transition program, further advancing their chances of success.
"If a soldier gets involved and works at it, they'll succeed," Herd said. "At the end of the day, it's an individual sport. We're just coaching them."
In the future, Herd said the
In the long run, that data will help fuel future successes. And that's good not only for Herd's program, but for the country as a whole.
It can lead to better recruiting, he said. But also help drive down unemployment as a whole.
"It's not just about helping the soldiers," Herd said. "It's helping economic engines."
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