TEMPLE, Texas — The next generation of veterans at Fort Hood took part in “Operation LevelUp,” an 18-week course that trains them for careers in Software Engineering and Data Science, this week. The hope for the course is to help active-duty soldiers learn a new skill that is crucial to help them lead fulfilling post-military lives.
"It's a life-changing thing and it's important to map out where you're going to go and how you're going to get there," Senior Manager of Military Programs at Galvanize Lawren Bradberry said.
Bradberry is a former U.S. Army NCO who believes in the motto, "No soldier or veteran should ever be left behind."
"The organization recognized that something more was needed for this population of and to build a program that is specifically focused on transition follows the same premise," Bradberry said. "We can provide the education, we don't want to leave anything out. We don't want anybody to fall through the cracks. We want to make sure we are providing for everyone who comes through, leaving no one behind."
Poli Gonzalez is a veteran of the U.S. Army and served at Fort Hood. He took part in "Operation LevelUp" when he was transitioning out of the service. He completed the course last March.
"This program was important to me because I wanted to have a life outside of the military that was successful," Gonzalez said. "I had a successful military career, now let's see what I can do in the outside world."
Bradberry said the transition for some active-duty soldiers to civilian life is not an easy one and some have fallen through the cracks. She said the program is designed to minimize that risk.
"The number one benefit is being able to enter into this program as your assigned place of duty and have that stability of the military, process community, stabilizing you as you go through this rigorous program to become a software developer," she said. "Having a support team on both sides, it really, kind of, cushions what can be a very jarring event in your life."
Gonzalez served four years in the Army and saw deployments to Korea and the Middle East. He said he knew he wanted to be successful once he left the military but found it challenging when the process began.
"When I was lost, I knew I wanted to be in the world but have a successful life but I didn't know how to do that," Gonzalez said. "What I did in the military doesn't really have that much correlation into the civilian side of the world."
Gonzalez said he couldn't take the skills that he learned and directly get something out of the civilian life, career-wise. He said he was conflicted and was worried he might have to take a part-time job while attending college just to make ends meet
Gonzalez said he heard about Operation LevelUp while in formation and it changed everything for him. He had been thinking about how he was going to find success and knew this program was what he needed to find a stable career in the civilian world.
"I'm so thankful to wake up, come to Galvanize and directly affect the transitioning service members in the program currently," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez now works for Galvanize as an Immersive Residence and is also a Transition Specialist. He directly helps those who are currently in the program. He helps them transition out of the military and get them into the Operation LevelUp program and makes sure they are taken care of every step of the way.
"All I want to do is provide resources, provide support for our veterans and get them where they want to be," he said.
If you or someone you know needs help transitioning into the civilian world, Gonzalez said you can reach out to him directly via e-mail and he would be glad to help you find your path. If you want to connect with Operation LevelUp, you can visit their Facebook page.
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