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March 13, 2012
By Cpl. Jordan Johnson, Third Army/ARCENT Public Affairs

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (March 13, 2012) -- In efforts to better prepare Soldiers for life after military service, the Third Army/ARCENT personnel office arranged for three Army Career and Alumni Program, known as ACAP, counselors to visit Kuwait and help Soldiers transition from active-duty service to civilian life.

"The main effort here is to assist all the Soldiers we have in the Kuwait community," said Col. Eluyn Gines, director of personnel, Third Army. "We managed to bring three counselors from the ACAP services to help with the transition for Soldiers who are redeploying soon."

Plans were put in place for the counselor visits because of the 1st Brigade Combat team of the 34th Infantry Division, Gines stated.

"Everything started with the Minnesota National Guard unit we have here, the 1/34th," Gines said. "They will be transitioning back to Minnesota very soon. In order to support the unit, the brigade commander was trying to bring employers here and provide job fair services to his organization."

As far as the job services are concerned, the counselors provide resume-building techniques and teach Soldiers how to conduct an interview. In addition, numerous organizations will be advertising their companies to service members, said Gines.

"We're hosting a job fair/transition services so the Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard can start working on their resumes -- on their transition," Gines stated. "If they don't have a job waiting, they can start talking not only with ACAP experts, but also with some of the employers back in Minnesota so they can get a job while they're here."

If Soldiers have a job waiting for them after leaving active-duty status, the stress of unemployment will be taken away.

"A lot of Soldiers, when they are separated from the military, go home and have no place to go," Gines said. "The Army is looking at ways to improve the quality of life and give them the opportunity to already have a job."

Since ACAP services offer so many invaluable benefits to service members, plans are in place to have an ACAP center built here, Gines stated.

"We are working on establishing an ACAP facility," said Gines. "I hope I can get it established by this summer."

For the ACAP experts, it's great to be able to help Soldiers take advantage of opportunities which were non-existent as they left the military.

"When I got off active duty, none of these services existed," said Lynn Phipps, ACAP counselor. "They're needed. There are so many things I didn't know about and I didn't do. It's a joy to be able to inform Soldiers of their federal transition entitlements."

As long as Soldiers know about the benefits, they'll take advantage of them, said Phipps.

"They've earned them. They've got them. If they know about them, they'll use them," she said.

Because of their dedication to helping Soldiers, the ACAP counselors re-arranged their schedules to facilitate Third Army troops. Gines said he was grateful for their sacrifice and commitment to Soldiers.

"I called them at the last minute, and they stopped what they were doing and came here to provide their services," Gines said. "I'm very appreciative they did because the services they provide for our Soldiers are remarkable. I can't thank them enough for everything they've done."

Gines and Soldiers attending the briefing were thankful for the counselors, and the ACAP experts were also happy to make the trip overseas and assist service members.

"We'd like to thank you for having us here," said Valecia Ross, ACAP counselor. "It's been an honor to be here and to help all the Soldiers."