A program developed by a retired Army Special Forces officer will help transitioning servicemembers and veterans bridge the gap between serving in the military and serving in local government.
The Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship (VLGMF) began in Colorado, where it quickly expanded and was taken over by the International City/County Management Association, better known as ICMA, as part of an initiative to create a diversity in career backgrounds among local rosters.
Through the program, participants can network, gain experience, go through a training plan, and obtain certifications relevant to civil service. More program details are here, and application materials are here; applications for the next cohort close Dec. 6. Learn more about the program's creator, Woodland Park, Colo., City Manager Darrin Tangeman, here.
[RELATED: MOAA's Transition and Career Center]
“Local government is quite a different world than your military world, if you are a transitioning military officer,” said Capt. Peter Troedsson, a MOAA board member who transitioned out of the Coast Guard five years ago. “Yet, at the same time, there are many similarities to running a base or any kind of facility.”
The 16-to-20-week fellowship highlights difference between the military and local government service, Troedsson said, and “provides a prospective veteran who is looking at the possibility of local government as a second career with a source for information, mentorship, experience, and [the ability to] experience” these differences.
Col. John Manning, Army (Ret.), a Life Member of MOAA, connected to mentors in local government after a recommendation from MOAA’s career transition team, with great success.
“In December, Brian [Anderson, MOAA’s senior director of Transition and Member Services and a retired Air Force colonel], gave me the idea to look into City/County Management jobs and linked me up with a couple of retired military members who had success in this arena. On my first try with a city in Oregon, I made it into the semifinalist stage. While that first one did not work out, I definitely enjoyed the process used within the CM arena; while not all the same, I found them to be transparent, ethical, and communicative.”
Ultimately, Manning found his path: He began transition leave on March 8, he said, retired June 1 and started work as assistant city manager of Branson, Mo., on July 15.
He attributed his job search success to excellent mentors and to guidance and encouragement from MOAA subject matter-experts.
“There is life after the military,” Manning said, “and it can be great!”
Start Planning Your Transition
“The day you want to start [planning your transition] is the day you join the military because you are always constantly going to be in transition, and you don’t know where your service is going to lead.” Anderson said. “Growing and expanding your network not only makes you more effective in what you are doing but prepares you for the future. “
Anderson suggests that service members find veterans that are already established in civilian careers so they may help as a mentor to develop your second career; ICMA’s program, a Defense Military Installation approved Career Skills (Skillbridge) Program, helps in both networking and mentoring.
For more career resources, consider LinkedIn, where veterans may receive a free year of LinkedIn Premium and can take advantage of the MOAA Career Networking group.
If you are a veteran seeking additional resources to prepare for a civilian career, look no further than MOAA. Our subject-matter experts are ready to assist MOAA Premium and Life Members with one-on-one résumé critiques, interview preparation, salary negotiation, exclusive MOAA Webinars and more.