by Brian Lamar, U.S. Navy Public Affairs
Angeline Delgado, the transition assistance program (TAP) manager at the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) starts her day with a smile. She is smiling because she is finally in a place in life where she feels like she is not only making a difference, but she believes she is in a position to do exactly what she was made to do.
In many ways, Delgado is the gatekeeper to a service member’s future. First, she triages service members who are planning to close out their careers in the military.
Tier 1 support is basically no assistance, where the service member has a solid plan and path for transitioning to the civilian world.
Tier 2 requires a bit more work. Delgado interviews the separating service member and identifies resources to help them transition.
Her most intense level of support is Tier 3. Tier 3 requires one-on-one guidance through the whole process from identifying what a service members’ plans are once they are out, education opportunities, classes for interview and resume prep, and a myriad of items to keep a service member on the path of transition.
“Many times a service member will come to my office and simply say ‘I need some assistance, I don’t know what I need to do.’ Then I sign them up for the TAP (transition assistance program),” said Delgado.
Delgado works feverishly every day to give service members the best possible chance at a smooth transition.
When asked why she strives so much in her current role, her response is simply that she learned through her own journey and that it is a labor of love.
“I sat in this TAP class in 2013 and I got little to nothing as far as useful information went. I learned the hard way. Today, I want Sailors to learn finer points to the civilian world like negotiating salary, VA (Veterans Affairs) benefits and other information that is not easily available,” Delgado said.
Before Delgado started her journey with FFSC, she received a graduate degree of clinical counseling from William Carey.
Once in the career field, she quickly learned that it wasn’t where she wanted to stay. She also served as a constituent liaison in Congressman Steven Palazzo’s office. That job led her to what she refers to as her forever happy place.
“I enjoy my job. I have no stress. I landed the unicorn job. It doesn’t get old. In November, it will be my five-year mark. There is always someone that needs help with something. I like being the person who is able to give guidance and help locate resources,” said Delgado.
Delgado also acts as a liaison between the transition program at FFSC and a program that is currently underutilized by businesses in the Coastal Mississippi area called SkillBridge. She hopes to spread the word to provide businesses with quality interns while giving transitioning service members a head start in learning about their desired career field after the military.
The Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge program is an opportunity for service members to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences.
Her first placement assistance in DoD Skills Bridge was three years ago, when she placed a Sailor with Ingalls Shipyard.
Delgado, who is a CrossFit coach working on her level 2 certificates and is an English Bulldog aficionado, has a couple of mantras to keep her work in perspective.
First, her mantra she repeats to herself to stay grounded is “Live life in the moment. Be a good human and strive to be better than I was yesterday. Be peaceful and do not let stress ruin my life,” she explained.
For others seeking new careers, her advice is simple. “Find the person doing the job you want to do, and ask them how they got there.”
Colleagues, coworkers, friends and shipmates all have high praise for Delgado and the work she accomplishes. Her dedication to helping others is perhaps only eclipsed by her rapport with nearly everyone she interacts.
“Angeline has taken the initiative to advocate for the SkillBridge Program, a DoD program that allows qualifying service members to pursue internships at program-participating industry partners for up to 180 days prior to their EAOS,” said Barbara Jones, the NCBC Gulfport FFSC director. “Angeline’s assistance with the SkillBridge program has earned her numerous accolades from the TAP Coordinator at NRSE (Navy Region Southeast), who stated, ‘As the SkillBridge subject matter expert for NCBC Gulfport, Angeline has been instrumental in promoting the program and providing transitioning service members with guidance during the application process. She also provided sound judgment to command leadership on questions related to SkillBridge policy. Actively engaged within the local community, she promoted the SkillBridge program and is directly responsible for the recruitment of two local industry partners/employers during the previous quarter.’ Companies apply to participate in the SkillBridge program through an online process, and Angeline provided guidance to these two companies, resulting in their being quickly approved.”