Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
The Marine Times reported this week that "[t]he Navy's
Center for Security Forces is in the final stages of creating the first
apprenticeship trade program for those with military specialties that involve
working dogs." If the Department of Labor approves the program, it means that
that "hundreds" of MWD handlers in both the Navy and the Marine Corps will be
eligible for apprenticeships that will not only potentially "boost [their]
military career, but also help [servicemen and women] land a law enforcement
gig" after they retire from the military, say with a police department K-9 unit
or with a private security company.
This is especially encouraging
news as many retiring military servicemen and women are finding it difficult to
find jobs in the civilian workforce. The Washington
Post reported in November that the "unemployment
rate for recent veterans remains incredibly high -- around 10 percent --
and remains noticeably higher than it is for non-veterans in the same
Should this new program receive
the expected approval, it will, says MA Jose Bautista, programs manager at the
Navy's Center for Security Forces, offer "concrete documentation of your skills
and experience, and that's what selection boards love to see. That same
documentation enhances someone's marketing potential in the civilian workforce
when their military service is complete for the same reasons. I've seen many
apprenticeships on the résumés of senior enlisted sailors who've walked out of
the Navy's door into very good civilian careers."
And for many handlers, this is
good news for handlers for another reason entirely: Life after the military
doesn't have to mean a life working without dogs.
MWD Rex, of Naval Air Facility Atsugi Naval Security Force, lays
on the deck of a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter during an aerial training exercise
for K-9 units. Rex and his handler are participating in readiness training for
future deployments through accumulation of scents, movement, and the feel of
riding in, and being around helicopters.
Frankel is special projects editor at Foreign Policy.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kegan E. Kay/Released