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CSP helps secure Airmen’s future

The career skills program, also known as DoD SkillBridge, helps Airmen transition from the military to the private sector. Local base education offices can help Airmen who are retiring or six months away from their military separation date through the process. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

The career skills program, also known as DoD SkillBridge, helps Airmen transition from the military to the private sector. Local base education offices can help Airmen who are retiring or six months away from their military separation date through the process. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Airmen – who are retiring or within six months of their enlistment’s end – can apply to take part in a career skills program, which allows them to receive on-the-job training with companies before they separate from the Air Force.

“The career skills program is a Department of Defense-wide program that is also called DoD SkillBridge,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rocky Casto, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead production superintendent. “It gives you the opportunity to go work for a company prior to getting out of the service and eases your transition as you go from being in the military to working in the civilian sector.”

This program doesn’t just help Airmen get a job. It also shows that the Air Force is concerned about its people even after they hang up their uniform and turn the page to a different chapter of their lives.

“I think it’s a great program because it gives our Airmen a leg up in the civilian world,” said Lt. Col. Brian Clark, the 28th AMXS commander. “We have some true professionals here at our base. These Airmen will be able to carry on the lessons they learned here in the military into a civilian job where they can continue to be leaders and grow personally and professionally.”

The application process can be done at the base education office. They can help Airmen every step of the way. The documentation and paperwork can be done in-house with the education office, but there is some additional legwork needed on the Airman’s part when they apply. Casto learned this when he applied for a CSP this year.

“Initially, I thought the application process was easy, but it turns out to be a lot of work on the Airmen’s side of the house,” Casto said. “We have to go find the company that will sponsor us and there are five forms that you have to fill out. [Air Force Instruction] 36-2649 was just updated to show you how do fill them out and an amendment in that AFI walks you through it.”

The skills Airmen pick up through a CSP can help their transition to civilian life, but what they learned in the Air Force can also be valuable to companies in the civilian sector. Casto believes his time in the military will give him a leg-up when he begins the application process for his next career.

“I will be learning how to work on avionics,” Casto said of his CSP. “I’m an aircraft mechanic by trade, and I’m used to working on jet engines. This experience will give me the skills to round myself as far as fixing an aircraft is concerned.

“I think it will help because it will allow me to be more competitive,” he added. “The internship can help me learn new skills, and hopefully, the company I will be working with will keep me on after the internship ends.”

Clark said he is happy to see one of his Airmen continuing to work in the field he was trained in by the Air Force. He wants them to take all the discipline and leadership experience they gained while serving and bring that same passion and know-how attitude to a different mission set.

“A lot of Airmen, including Sergeant Casto, have a great work ethic,” Clark said. “Some of these people have spent the last 20 years of their lives being completely mission focused. I think it’s great they’re continuing to be that way in the civilian sector. These Airmen are leaders, and I’m sure they will bring that to the private sector.”

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