WASHINGTON (NNS) -- An instructor at the U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., is preparing himself for a successful transition to civilian life as one of the approximately 3,000 Sailors who have been affected by the Enlisted Retention Board (ERB) and will be separated from the Navy before the end of June.
Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Eric Sandlin was notified by his chain of command in October that he was not being retained.
"I was very angry with the Navy at first," said Sandlin. "I did not think the ERB would affect me. I had given my best to the Navy for eight years and I was a dual-warfare qualified Sailor. I thought only Sailors who were performing badly would be separated."
The ERB became necessary when unprecedented retention and low attrition rates across the Navy resulted in a requirement to rebalance the force. The purpose of the board was to reduce over-manning in ratings projected to be more than 103 percent manned in FY-12. In all, Sailors from 31 overmanned ratings were affected.
"Having to tell one of my best Sailors that he was not being retained was one of the hardest things I have ever done as a chief," said Chief Machinist's Mate Robert Inigo, the Engineering and Weapons Division leading chief petty officer for the Academy. "I felt powerless."
However, Inigo quickly realized that he wasn't powerless.
"The first thing we did was immediately set up a Career Development Board," said Inigo. "In this board, we sat down and discussed all of the resources available to Sandlin. A great tool on the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) website is the Navy Transition Assistance Handbook, which covers all of the benefits and employment opportunities, and has a great pre-separation checklist."
After the Career Development Board, Sandlin said he felt prepared and immediately signed up for the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which he said is a must for anyone transitioning out.
"Military One Source was another great resource," said Sandlin. "There were also job fairs set up. I finally decided that [I would apply] with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) because of the information I obtained from an MSC representative at a Fleet and Family Support Center job seminar."
Sandlin also said he logged on to the website of Challenger, Gray and Christmas and was able to get extensive help with his resume.
"Sandlin has built up several great resumes specifically prepared for different possible employers," said Inigo. "He has applied for several jobs and is waiting to hear back from these employers. Overall, career-wise, he has several options, and we will support and encourage him in whichever career he chooses."
"I feel like my chain-of-command has really helped me prepare for my separation by feeding me information on what to expect, providing many of the resources I've talked about, and allowing me the time to pursue my goals toward a career transition," said Sandlin. "I really couldn't have done it without the resources offered by the Navy, and a command willing to take the time to help me explore them."
Sandlin's advice to other Sailors that are facing separation is simple. He advises them to look at all the resources available. However, he knows this can be overwhelming on your own.
"The last thing anyone getting separated wants to hear is, 'the resources are there, and it is up to you to seek them out,'" said Sandlin. "What they really need is a person in their chain of command to spend some one-on-one time helping them through the process; someone to lift their spirits and help them through by providing support, not just a web address."
Sandlin said he believes that with the help of a good chain of command every transitioning Sailor can be successful.
"I am a good Sailor," said Sandlin. "That will never change. What has changed is my career path, and I can't wait to follow it."
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