Every year, thousands of service members transition from the military to civilian life, which has the potential to be an extremely stressful and confusing time. Undoubtedly, service members will polish their resume and perhaps look for opportunities for extra training or internships.

The SkillBridge program, a Department of Defense initiative, facilitated through Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS), is offered to service members who are within 180 days of their end-of-active-service (EAS) date. SkillBridge on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune offers 13 courses in the information technology, business, transportation and industry, and vocational categories to service members to essentially give them a head start during their transition period.

“What SkillBridge is designed to do is afford service members the opportunity to attend a training program that will lead to employment on the back end,” said Robert Jaeger, Personal and Professional Development Advisor, Marine and Family Programs Division, MCCS, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

For service members faced with uncertainty about what to do after the Corps, SkillBridge can help find a temporary option or even a lifetime career within 18 weeks or less. Some programs are in a classroom setting, others are online or hands-on depending on the course.

“I took advantage of the Troops Into Transportation program,” said Jason Pittsley, a retired master sergeant. “It had guaranteed job placement upon completion, so I knew I would be able to provide for myself and my family.”

The programs have the ability to help employ all transitioning service members with a general discharge under honorable conditions or honorable discharge regardless of time served.

“I absolutely would recommend SkillBridge because they do just as the title says,” Pittsley said. “They bridge the gap between our Marine Corps career, no matter how long that may be, and our next chapter or next career in our civilian life. I wish more commands and career planners knew about these programs so that they could advise the Marines before they go to the transition readiness seminar.”

It is understood that training and mission accomplishment will always come first, but leaders are encouraged, if time permits, to allow service members to enroll in these programs. SkillBridge must be approved by the first commander in the service member’s chain of command.

“If there is an opportunity that does not conflict with training schedules to give these Marines and Sailors a good start out the door, I implore commanders, sergeants majors, command master chiefs, etcetera to look at these SkillBridge programs,” Jaeger said.

For more information about SkillBridge, visit their website at https://dodskillbridge.usalearning.gov, send an email through Lejeune-NewRiverSkillBRidge@usmc-mccs.org or visit the Transition Readiness Branch office on MCB Camp Lejeune.