Retired Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Colin Powell recently pitched a free online cloud computing and sales course for veterans and military spouses, with emphasis on former enlisted personnel.
Powell, now a board member of Salesforce, said the issue is "to get many more companies involved with a focus on enlisted people. We have a lot more enlisted people than officers."
"Officers are going to be OK" in finding career opportunities in civilian life, he said. "They can get a job." But it's the young former enlisted service member "who came in trying to find out what to do with his life that needs help," he added.
"It's all about giving them a sense of service," and the training that can "mold them into a civilian skill," said Powell, a 35-year Army veteran and former secretary of State.
Powell spoke at an event in May to promote Vetforce, the job training and career program for service members, veterans and military spouses set up by Salesforce, which bills itself as the "world's No. 1 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution" for businesses through cloud computing.
The Salesforce website describes CRM as "an approach to manage a company's interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers' history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth."
At the event in Washington, D.C., former Airman 1st Class Lauren Zolp, who went through the training, said she was having a difficult transition until she found Vetforce.
The main advantage is that "you can work remotely, the training is portable, the job is portable," said Zolp, who said she moved eight times in five years with her Marine husband.
Former Army Sgt. Jesse Grothaus said he was in between jobs when he heard about Vetforce from another veteran. Through learning the basic CRM skills, it took him 2 to 3 months to get certified as a basic data administrator, he said.
"A lot of people say 'thanks' to veterans for their service, but this is a way to show it," retired Army Maj. Gen. George Franz, the former operations director for U.S. Cyber Command, said of Vetforce.
Through Vetforce, "we're not pigeonholing veterans to a particular set of skills," but allowing them to grow according to their abilities and ambition, said Franz, now the cybersecurity lead for Accenture Federal Services.
To learn more about Vetforce and how to sign up, go to its website at https://veterans.force.com/
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.