By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (May 12, 2014) -- For some Soldiers leaving the Army, they've already got a job interview lined up with one of more than 500 private-sector companies.
In fact, as part of the U.S. Army Partnership for Youth Success Program, called "PaYS" for short, those Soldiers had their interviews lined up as soon as they completed initial-entry training.
During a memorandum of agreement-signing ceremony today, at the Pentagon, Sony Computer Entertainment America -- the division that produces the Play Station gaming system -- became one of the many companies that promise new Soldiers a shot at a private-sector job when their enlistment is over.
"At Sony, we are partnering with the Army to make sure we provide great career paths for young people who join the military and serve our country," said Sally Buchanan, senior vice president for human resources at Sony Computer Entertainment America. "It's important for them to know, when they come out, that [they] have gained valuable experience as a result of serving [their] country. We're very proud to be a part of the PaYS program and to sign this document here today. We wholeheartedly support the hiring of veterans and will continue to do so throughout the years to come."
Karl F. Schneider, the Army's acting principal deputy assistant secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, signed the memorandum of agreement with Buchanan, solidifying the relationship between the Army and the makers of one of the most popular gaming systems in the world.
This is "another great company coming on board to help us help the nation, making sure that our best are taken care of, not only while they are on active duty, but when they leave active duty," Schneider said.
Schneider said that what companies like Sony get for participating in the PaYS program are workers who exceed most standards.
"What you get out of the Army are young men and women who are well-educated, who have done something hard, who have values, who know how to work together for a common goal," he said. "All of those things that corporate America needs."
About 510 companies are involved in the PaYS program. Those companies do not agree to hire Soldiers who are leaving service, but do agree to offer Soldiers a shot at employment -- in the form of a guaranteed interview. Soldiers sign up for the program, and pick the company they would like to interview with, early in their Army career. The program began in 2000, and so far, about 160,000 Soldiers have signed up to participate.
Angela R. Byrd, who serves as the PaYS program manager, said the program helps departing Soldiers with their resume, and also provides them with "the resources they need so they can be an ideal candidate for these companies.
"We're hoping to continue to grow the program," she said. "The more it grows, the more exciting it becomes. It's a win-win for all of us."