Troops to Teachers helps Airmen serve after separation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
For many service members who are separating from the military, finding employment that utilizes prior training or skills gained while serving can be difficult.

For Airmen who are honorably discharged from their military commitment and have an interest in 'serving' again as an educational instructor, the Troops to Teachers program is available to help them go from the front lines to the classroom.

"What the program is all about is helping separated military personnel become teachers in public, private and charter schools," said Tom Dorsey, Troops to Teachers Nevada representative.

Over the past couple years, Dorsey said he has helped more than 200 former military members find a teaching job in the Clark County School District.

"A lot of guys come to me and say, 'Well I was only a mechanic, or I was only this or that,' but there is a need for your specific skill set somewhere," Dorsey said. "You can use your military training and job experience to get a Business and Industry license through the Nevada Department of Education to teach your specialty or [Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp] classes. You can also get into the classroom as a substitute teacher with only 60 semester hours of school."

Because of life skills and experience, exposure to different people and cultures, and embedded leadership skills, Dorsey, a retired U.S. Army first sergeant, said former military members make the best teachers.

"Hands down, without a doubt, they make the best teachers because there are so many different aspects of military life that coincide with teaching," Dorsey said. "I have a passion for teaching and for seeing military members become teachers. After being on both sides of the situation, I just can't imagine a better person for the job, and there's definitely a need for teachers."

With Clark County School District starting the 2014-2015 school year with approximately 600 teaching vacancies, there are ample opportunities for former Nellis Air Force Base Airmen to get into the classroom.

"Before I retired, I was in the education and training section at the Mike O'Callaghan Federal Medical Center, and Troops to Teachers came in one day to talk to us about their program," said retired Master Sgt. Carl Vetter, an assistant Aerospace Science instructor at Cimarron-Memorial High School. "With the number of military personnel that are retiring who have experience at the podium or doing [on-the-job] training, the school districts need them and a lot of them don't know how to get into the schools, so that's where Troops to Teachers can help."

Troops to Teachers also offers stipends between $5,000 and $10,000 to help offset transitioning costs, and for teaching at schools in low-income areas.

Even though the program offers monetary incentives, Vetter said you can't put a price tag on happiness.

"I retired in 2008 and I've been waiting for a JROTC teaching position to open up since then, so all of the jobs I've worked before this, I was basically just spinning my wheels," Vetter said. "This is my dream job. I am happy as a clam, thanks to Troops to Teachers. If it wasn't for them and the help they provided, I wouldn't be able to do this."

For more information about the Troops to Teachers program, contact Tom Dorsey at tdorsey@troopstoteachers.net, visit his office in Room 333 in the Nellis Education Center, or visit www.troopstoteachers.net.