Military News

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Transitioning Soldiers learn skills through Toastmasters

by Tech. Sgt. Raymond Mills
JBER Public Affairs

12/10/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Stress, worry, anxiety.

These are symptoms associated with retiring or separating from the military, but the transition to the civilian workforce doesn't have to be an overwhelming ordeal. For service members who are separating, the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is available to provide a helping hand during their next transition.

SFL-TAP provides information, training and tools to successfully navigate the rigors associated with civilian employment and education.

"SFL-TAP is very important, because it helps create a plan for Soldiers and Airmen who are transitioning to shift their mindset from the military to the civilian," said Pua Naluai, SFL-TAP career counselor. "The biggest part is planning what they want to do and how to get there whether it's going to school or finding a job. We offer a lot of classes to prepare for that step."

Although SFL-TAP offers a variety of classes from résumé writing to financial readiness, part of the training that is particularly helpful in preparing members transitioning to the civilian workforce is Toastmasters.

According to the Toastmasters International website, their organization helps members improve skills by regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere.

"The Toastmasters program is for anybody who wants to improve their communication and leadership skills," said Maj. Raul Rovira, U.S. Army Alaska.  "Toastmasters specifically targets public communication and speaking skills."

When transitioning to the civilian sector, potential employees will brave interviews before getting hired. During the interview process, perspective employees want to appear cool, calm and collected. The Toastmasters portion of the course teaches verbal skills which improve confidence and and better prepares candidates to articulate their thoughts.

During the class, students engage in various verbal exercises that remove them from their comfort zone. The goal is to evaluate the speaker's ability and provide positive feedback so the person can learn from and improve upon their mistakes.

Rovira pointed out it is better to make mistakes in a non-threatening environment with a group of people who are there to help than to do so during a real interview. "Toastmasters changed how I look at public speaking," said Sgt. James Hurst, an assistant team leader, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. "This is one of the better classes I have attended at the SFL-TAP, because it includes valuable information such as interview techniques, talking to people and overall interactions. I would highly recommend this class to anybody who wants to do anything outside of the military."

Although the program is Soldier oriented, the JBER SFL-TAP provides assistance to Soldiers and Airmen.

SFL-TAP is a mandatory program for Soldiers that follows a pre-separation timeline.

Soldiers are encouraged to visit the SFL-TAP website to learn about specific requirements, as well as a range of available resources that will assist them during their transition.

Retiring personnel should register for SFL-TAP 12 to 24 months prior to their transition, while those finishing their term of service should begin 12 to 18 months prior to their separation date.

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