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TCC offers program that eases transition from military to civilian life

When military members transition to civilian life, the change can be daunting. REBOOT workshops – a series of classes over three weeks that address everything from education to employment to long-term financial goals — aim to make it less so.

The workshops are free, and two more are scheduled for Tidewater Community College. The college graduated its first REBOOT class in May and will offer the 15-day seminar again from July 15 – Aug. 2 and from Sept. 9-27 at the Workforce Solutions Center in Suffolk.

Classes are open to active duty, veterans, reserves and spouses who are within three months of their separation; proof is required. Enrollment is online. Students must attend all classes, which run from approximately 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

TCC graduated its first class – also the initial one offered on the East Coast – on May 24.

“This program is an opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of these people,” said Bruce Brunson, executive director of TCC’s Center for Military for Veterans Education. “It’s taught by people who have been there and done that. They have the skill set in helping military make not only short term but long term decisions. The veterans in this class have identified that they need help. They understand the risk, and they’re doing risk avoidance.”

The workshops focus on three major categories: military-to-civilian personal training, military-to-civilian lifestyle transition and military-to-civilian career transition. During the first week, students illustrate detailed charts representing milestones in their life and priorities to help develop a vision for their futures.

Brunson taught classes on managing finances and college planning, giving practical information about choices that lead to gainful employment. He discussed fields with plentiful jobs – ranging from matrix logistics to petroleum engineering – and urged students to research carefully prior to deciding on a major.

“The information you get in here is not just information you can use during the transition. You can use it throughout your entire career,” said Shaunté Stafford, a former E-5 in the Navy.

“It was very enlightening,” said former Navy chief Russ Darnell, one of 10 graduates impressed by the scope of the program. “The Navy is very structured. This breaks it down and allows us to know we have more control, and we’re capable of managing our own goals.”

Launched by the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc., the REBOOT workshops initially were implemented in San Diego. More than 700 service members have graduated since 2010, and the program boasts a 98.2 percent success rate, meaning graduates either gain employment or enter an educational institution.

The workshop is not a substitute for the Navy’s Transition Goals Plans and Success classes; REBOOT is an extra tool to ensure successful transition.

“This program is all about shutting the machine down and rebooting to a new way of thinking,” said REBOOT coordinator Michael Tsikouris. “This is diving into the deep end of the pool. It shows you options you might not have considered before.