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News | Jan. 26, 2021

Experience Needed: Enlistment program rewards Future Soldiers for civilian skills

By Jason Schaap USAREC Public Affairs

It was the layoffs that really grabbed Paul Treves’ attention. He had been a master machinist developing prototypes for a Fortune 500 company nearly seven years. Friends and coworkers who had been there more than twice that were not only getting cut from the payroll, they couldn’t find employers willing to pay their former salaries.

“I saw the writing on the wall,” Treves said. “My performance (did not) matter when it came to those types of cuts.”

The Army, an option that had “always been” in the back of his mind, moved to the front. It made sense. Treves had always been career-oriented. He wanted a 20-year type job. So he drove three miles from his office in Boulder, Colorado, to a recruiting station and discovered the Army Civilian Acquired Skills Program.

Keep your passion for your trade, the recruiter told him, and serve your country with it in the Army. In return for the experience and money saved on training, Treves learned that ACASP guaranteed him the higher pay and privilege of finishing basic training with the rank of specialist.

“I was very interested in the program,” Treves remembered. “Coming in at the higher pay grade was a big incentive.”

Almost 15 years later, Sgt. 1st Class Treves is an instructor assigned to the Army’s Recruiting and Retention College. He was assigned to recruiting after his tour as an Army machinist and was able to help bring in Soldiers via ACASP the same way his recruiter helped him.

Today, more than 50 occupational specialties are available for Future Soldiers to enter the Army via ACASP. Some of the more common jobs include carpentry and masonry specialist, combat medic specialist, motor transportation operator, and wheeled vehicle mechanic, according to Master Sgt. Bradlee Daviner, a policy non-commissioned officer in charge for U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

It was the combat medic opportunity that drew Tessa Morris to the Army. Morris was a ski patrol director when she walked into a Wenatchee, Washington, recruiting station in 2019. She had been providing emergency care on nearby ski slopes since she was in high school more than a decade earlier. She had a passion for the job and wanted to bring that passion into the military.

“I went in there specifically looking at combat medicine,” the 29-year-old Morris said.

Like Treves, the Army was something that sat on a shelf in the back of Morris’ brain for years. When she pulled that idea down for a closer look, it wasn’t just about what the Army could offer her. It was very much about continuing something she felt called to do and offering those skills to the Army.

And there was another reason she was keen on ACASP. Her grandfather went to war on skis in Italy as a medic for the Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division during World War II. Tessa remembers skiing with her grandfather when she was 6 years old. He died in 2009.

“It’s pretty cool that I can do the same job that my grandfather did,” Morris said. “It’s a big reason I joined the Army rather than the other services.”

Enlisting through ACASP is a fairly straightforward process, according to Daviner. Anyone considering ACASP should not worry that it’s too difficult to qualify.

“As long as an individual meets the program’s prerequisites, they will be able to enlist in the program,” Daviner said. “Prerequisites can consist of on-the-job training or civilian certifications; it all depends on what (job) the applicant is pursuing.”

It’s the Army’s recruiters who answer the questions and handle the details surrounding ACASP. Generally, Daviner said enlisting via ACASP should not take longer than a standard enlistment. Skill certification paperwork is simply added to all the other documentation needed for a Future Soldier.

Advanced promotion to the rank of specialist is the big benefit offered by the program, Daviner added, but ACASP is just the start of realizing the many opportunities the Army offers. ACASP is a win-win program. It’s about Future Soldiers bringing their needed experience to the Army family, he said, “and becoming something bigger than themselves.”

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