FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Army News Service) — Signifying the start of a Soldier’s journey into the Profession of Arms, the Army has begun presenting a certificate to all enlisted and officer trainees graduating from initial entry training courses.
An initiative by the Army’s Soldier for Life working group, the Soldier’s Certificate emphasizes a trainee officially earning the right to be called a Soldier.
“Our service is not for everyone. We don’t have a 100-percent pass rate,” said Lt. Col. Christopher B. Garrett, the G-7 chief of the Initial Entry Training Division, U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training.
At the conclusion of military training courses, a certificate is typically given to a Soldier to codify what he or she had accomplished in it. This new certificate will do the same, Garrett said.
“It’s another document you can be proud of and shows that you have done what it takes to be part of the Army,” he said.
More than 750 basic combat training, or BCT, graduates at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, were among the first to receive the certificates Thursday in honor of the installation’s centennial anniversary.
Signed by the Army chief of staff and sergeant major of the Army, the certificate will be given to BCT graduates as well as those who complete one-station unit training, or OSUT. New officers will receive a certificate as well.
While trainees earn the Army Service Ribbon and don the beret upon completing initial entry training, the certificate strengthens the Soldier for Life effort.
“The Soldier’s Certificate may seem redundant, but again, this is about reinforcing a culture change,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey. “The ribbon and headgear certainly symbolize Soldiers’ accomplishments for completing the different phases of their initial training, but the certificate and the accompanying ceremony are more focused on welcoming the new recruits into a community of Soldiers for which they are lifetime members.”
Roughly 130,000 enlisted and officer trainees are expected to graduate and receive the certificates in fiscal year 2018, according to Army officials.
“It’s not a locally generated certificate,” said Maj. George Coleman, education director for the Army’s G-1 office. “It’s from the senior officer and NCO of the Army welcoming you to the profession of arms.”
Coleman, whose office joined the Center for Initial Military Training to roll out the certificate, said the document helps mark the beginning of a Soldier’s lifelong bond with the Army. It’s also part of the Army’s promise to take care of Soldiers and their families transitioning to the civilian world, so they can spread a good image of the military branch.
“It’s not just ‘thank you for your service’ and … you move on,” Coleman said. “It’s you are still a Soldier, still serving in your community as an [Army] ambassador out there.”
Flanked by a wreath and flags, a bald eagle is seen with its wings spread above the words “United States Army” at the top of the certificate. Below that, the certificate affirms the Soldier has completed the necessary requirements to be inducted as a member of the Army profession while also entrusting him or her to uphold the Army values as a lifelong Soldier.
“This certificate is really the first phase of that,” Coleman said of the Soldier for Life program.
Throughout a Soldier’s career, the Army has and continues to offer more opportunities to train and earn credentials in various programs, helping Soldiers qualify for skilled jobs in the civilian sector.
“They are easily transferable skills that our Soldiers learned and demonstrated excellence in while in the military service,” Coleman said. “They allow us to show our civilian counterparts that we really are professionals in our specific tasks and areas.”
The Soldier for Life program has also improved transition services for Soldiers by regularly interacting with companies looking to hire Army veterans, he added.
Unemployment compensation payout from the Army is at its lowest levels in 13 years, according to Dailey, who attributes that to the program’s partners who create job opportunities with internships and credentialing initiatives.
“We want Soldiers to know coming in that they made the right decision to serve,” said the Army’s senior enlisted adviser, “and that because of the opportunities for training and education, they’ll be well prepared long after their service ends.”
That sort of preparedness will then pay dividends for Army recruiting in the years to come.
“We owe it to them to be successful so that when they are out in the community they are a spokesperson for us,” Coleman said. “They can tell a positive story about their military service [and] we can continue to recruit that next generation of the all-volunteer force.”
(Follow Sean Kimmons on Twitter: @KimmonsARNEWS)