Photo caption: MVAA Director Jeff Barnes (left) congratulates U.S. Army veteran Wuraola Odunsi on her successful completion of the REBOOT Workshop held at Piquette Square for Veterans earlier this year. Sixteen veterans took part in the three-week reverse boot camp in Detroit, which concluded with a graduation ceremony.
When a veteran first enters the military, it takes 16 weeks of basic training to turn him or her into a soldier. However, leaving the U.S. Armed Forces is a different story. Becoming a civilian can take as few as 72 hours – sometimes even less – and when that happens, a veteran can feel unprepared to tackle life out of uniform.
Michigan REBOOT Workshops, created by the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. and sponsored by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), can ease that transition. REBOOT Workshops help veterans reinvent themselves and build professional, educational and financial skills during the three-week program.
“REBOOT helps veterans do so much more than transition out of the armed forces – it helps them transform their lives and puts them on a path to success,” MVAA Director Jeff Barnes said. “By providing veterans with training sessions designed especially for them, we can equip them with the skills they need to achieve their goals and be successful in their civilian lives.”
Often referred to as reverse boot camps, REBOOT Workshops provide personalized training to address personal, social and professional aspects of the transition out of uniform, including seminars on resume building, financial management and selecting a college, as well as courses to better understand VA benefits and prepare for job interviews.
Graduates are also provided with job matching assistance, career coaching and ongoing support following completion of the workshop.
Wuraola Odunsi, a veteran who recently graduated from a REBOOT Workshop held in Detroit, said the program changed her life.
“The Army offers programs for reintegration, but I still didn’t know where to start or how to start once I entered civilian life,” Odunsi said. “I had a plan, but it didn’t pan out. This program helped me learn that sometimes you can’t prepare enough, but I also learned that you don’t have to transition alone. REBOOT gave me confidence. I can think outside the box now.”
A member of the U.S. Army for more than four years, Odunsi used the REBOOT Workshop to develop new skills and change her perspective on life out of uniform.
“There are always going to be obstacles in life, but REBOOT has shown me how to tackle them,” she said. “All veterans share a common bond, and it was rewarding to share this experience with other veterans.”
So far, about two dozen Michigan veterans have participated in the REBOOT program, and two more workshops are currently scheduled in 2015.
The Michigan National Guard is hosting a REBOOT Workshop, taking place from April 27 to May 15. Classes start at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. each day and will take place at 3411 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Lansing.
A REBOOT session is also scheduled for June 1-19 at the Kent County Human Services Building (121 Franklin, SE in Grand Rapids).
If you are a Michigan National Guard member beginning to transition out of the Armed Forces or know of a veteran who may benefit from the skills taught at the reverse boot camp, registration is available online at MichiganVeterans.com/MIREBOOT.
Class size is limited to 25 participants per session, and all veterans regardless of service era or discharge status are welcome.