New Program Offers Employment Opportunities to Transitioning Service Members

By Seaman Jessica Dowell,
Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Service members of the Hampton Roads community participated in an orientation session Dec. 6 for Onward to Opportunity (O2O), a no-cost training and certification program for service member transitioning to civilian careers.

The program is offered through the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, in partnership with the Schultz Family Foundation and Hire Heroes USA.

O2O is a Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge-approved program. SkillBridge is a DoD initiative designed to link military training with civilian equivalents.

"We're delighted to be offering this wonderful opportunity on behalf of the Schultz Family Foundation," said retired Navy Capt. John Malfitano, O2O program manager. "The program is open to transitioning service members, veterans, active-duty spouses, National Guard, and Selected Reserves here in Hampton Roads for the first time."

The program will be available to service members in the Hampton Roads area Jan. 17. For the first iteration of classes, O2O is offering two initial learning pathways, information technology and customer service excellence. 

"I'm looking to enter the IT sector," said Petty Officer 1st Class Joel Pichardo, who anticipates entering the civilian workforce in early 2018. "The types of certifications offered and the fact that they are free are what attracted me to the program. I am looking forward to getting started next month."

O2O is comprised of four in-class training days, followed by a 6-10 week online training program. Students will be provided with the opportunity to receive a certificate of completion through Syracuse University in customer service, or will be scheduled and funded for their official certification in a corresponding IT field.

O2O is working toward offering additional pathways for future classes in fields such as project management and human resources.

Orientation sessions and classes for O2O will be held in the Wind and Sea conference room at Building C-9, Naval Station Norfolk. The final orientation session to enroll in the Jan. 17 class will be offered Jan. 10.

O2O is open to all branches of the DoD. For more information, please visit