SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Native American Management Services Inc. representative is here this week to train contractors in skills they need to help servicemembers who are nearing retirement and about to approach the civilian workforce.

Yolanda Rayford, a NAMS assistant project manager working from the Fleet and Family Support Center in Sasebo this week, travels to installations with transition assistance programs, offering regular training to people helping servicemembers re-enter the job market.

The Department of Labor saw a need for more counselors with enhanced levels of training, said FFSC officials, and hired NAMS. The firm provides contracted services to the federal government in addition to doing specialized work with Native American businesses.

From her main office at Yokota Air Base, Rayford recruits and trains contractors to help full-time TAP directors with monthly transition assistance classes and one-on-one counseling. This week in Sasebo, Rayford is training newly hired counselor Martha Byrd.

“I more than welcome the help,” said Sasebo TAP director Rohana Hooper. “In fact, if the classes become large enough, we can now safely say we can add even more TAP sessions based on the need we perceive.”

At Sasebo, Hooper explained, monthly TAP classes for retiring servicemembers cover issues including interviewing, assessing skills, writing and distributing resumes, continuing educational needs and how military experience translates into civilian workplace positions.

Each month, on days TAP instruction is scheduled, Byrd, a contractor, will assist Hooper, providing about twice the professional support FFSC’s TAP could offer before.

Rayford said she hopes also to boost TAP support at other Pacific bases.

“I am currently looking to recruit facilitators at Yokota Air Base, Yokosuka Naval Base and Camp Humphreys in South Korea,” she said. “These people work on a contract basis and it’s an ideal position for family members of military.”

Anyone interested in working as a transition assistance counselor contracted through NAMS should e-mail Rayford at

The 30 or more servicemembers attending Wednesday’s session at Sasebo seemed attentive; many took notes.

“What we as sailors are learning is extremely helpful,” Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Thomas, to retire in August, said after the session. “Just what we’ve learned in the last hour, about résumés and interviewing, and how it’s important to avoid military jargon and acronyms in written material … and that’s just a small portion of it. You have to learn and realize that just because you had 20 years in the Navy, that doesn’t mean you’re going to end up as the top dog outside the military structure.

“You might have to reach in there and clean the toilets and work your way up,” he added, “just like anybody else.”

Call Hooper or Byrd at DSN 252-3114 for more information about the FFSC Transition Assistance Program in Sasebo.

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