Behind the scenes: Empowerment in Transition

  • Published
  • By Alexx Pons
  • Air Force Wounded Warrior Program
Each year, thousands of Airmen must struggle with determining whether to retire, separate or continue on in their Air Force journey. For some, this transition means leaving service to pursue higher education and develop a new skill-set; for others, the reintegration could be the beginning of enjoying a reprieve following years of selfless service to the nation. No matter what the impetus for a career transition however, this transitional phase is one filled with emotional turmoil and stress.


The Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program Empowerment in Transition team strives to equip, encourage, and empower wounded warriors to develop and achieve long-term career and life goals, while providing personalized coaching and guidance to ensure warriors are can manage lifestyle and career changes, build effective ways ahead and take charge of their post-military lives.


“Our focus is truly to provide our warriors with the tools and resources they need to achieve whatever their end goals are during their period of transition,” said Felicia McCollum, AFW2 Empowerment in Transition program manager. “This could range from employment, which tends to be the bulk of our focus, to education and entrepreneurial endeavors – our job is to help our warriors find and regain purpose.”


The AFW2 Program provides well-coordinated and personalized support to wounded, ill or injured Total Force Airmen, their caregivers and families. The program also advocates for wounded warriors to ensure accessibility and minimize delays and gaps in medical and non-medical service, utilizing a 7 Phase Continuum of Care that runs from the initial identification through recovery and rehabilitation to reintegration back into active duty or transition to retirement or separation. The goal is to provide a refined, simplified transition back to duty or into civilian life, ensuring Airmen are well-equipped to manage challenges because of their wounds, injuries or illnesses.


The Empowerment in Transition Workshops held at CARE Events, such as the current Joint Base Lewis-McChord event taking place currently in Washington, provides a personalized approach for the unique population AFW2 serves. 


“The workshop is co-facilitated by corporate partners and human resources professionals armed with up-to-date information about the ever-changing private sector,” said McCollum. “Our curriculum here covers strengths assessment, career matching, networking, personal branding, dressing for success, resume writing and review, and interviewing skills to include mock interviews. We want to arm our warriors with as much as we can to ensure their success.”


The Air Force Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, is nothing new to service members; however, what sets the Empowerment in Transition workshops aside is the one-on-one aspect that facilitators drive to promote a deeper understanding of concepts and stronger first-hand implementation.


“Another diverse offering we have during these events is our CARE Fair, which is a resource/employment fair,” McCollum said. “These are open to all Warrior CARE Event attendees and link them with prospective employers and recruiters who are actively hiring, as well as other helping agencies they stand to benefit from.”


The Empowerment in Transition team scouts local areas within the region hosting current CARE events to help maximize visibility and marketability of transitioning warriors seeking post-military job opportunities. 


“And we have had some incredible success stories within our program directly related to our Empowerment in Transition workshops and CARE Fair; warriors have been offered six-figure salaries and high-profile positions with reputable firms in the past,” McCollum said. “We have even had warriors who were practicing interview techniques with HR specialists brought in as guests for the workshop, offered jobs on the spot because they demonstrated desirable skills during their mock interviews.


“Our goal is not necessarily to be different than TAP, but to hone the skills you received there if you have already attended or to prepare you with additional tools to help you be more successful while going through that part of your transition,” she continued. “So, even if you cannot attend one of our events, please reach out to us and let us help you find the information you need and connect with the resources that will help you throughout your transition – we genuinely are here to help serve you.”


For more information about the AFW2 program, visit their official website. Additionally, be sure to like their Facebook page for program updates, upcoming events and the latest news.


Editor’s note: The next CARE event (following JBLM) will be held at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, this November.