The Burlington County commissioners approved an agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense to allow U.S. service members to work and train with the county before leaving active service.
The Burlington County Department of Public Safety will partner with the DOD’s SkillBridge Program to help departing service members transition from military life into civilian employment during the last 180 days of their time in the service. During this period, they will continue to receive their military pay and benefits.
More than 50,000 service members have participated in the program with external employers since the program started in 2011, according to the Department of Defense.
Burlington County is believed to be the first New Jersey county to join the program.
“The SkillBridge program is a win-win for our county and the participating service members,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “The men and women separating from military service benefit from the experience they receive from working and training with our county and we gain quality recruits to fill critical public safety positions.”
County officials are optimistic that service members participating in the program will become permanent hires.
At least one military service member stationed at nearby Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst has expressed interest in working and training with the county under the program and county officials expect more will seek employment with the county through the program.
Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, who is the liaison to the Joint Base and the military, said the SkillBridge program would strengthen the county’s connections with the Joint Base and demonstrate its support for the installation’s military families.
More than 46,000 service members and civilian defense employees work on the Joint Base, making it New Jersey’s second largest employer behind only the State of New Jersey.
“There’s no cost incurred by the county and our participation strengthens our ties with Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst by creating a pipeline for service members to qualify for good, local jobs,” Eckel said. “We value, and are thankful for, the men and women who protect our nation, and assisting with their transition from service through the SkillBridge program is another way the county can show our appreciation.”