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USO Transition Program

Helping service members prepare for their next journey

Olivia Burley and USO senior transition program manager Angela Collins look over some information at a recent career event. Photo credit: USO Northwest

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Olivia Burley, a military spouse, made it clear to a United Service Organizations (USO) Transition Program member at USO Northwest (USO NW) what she did not want to do in her next career move.

"She was very clear about that," began Patrick Creighton, a decorated Army veteran and a senior member of the Transition Team at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. "On the other hand, she had no real focus on what she did want to do moving forward."

It is at this point that the USO NW's Transition Program and its experienced team members are of significant help.

The team at JBLM consists of Creighton, along with fellow veterans Angela Collins and Cynthia Ellis. All three began serving as transition specialists in Lakewood in 2015.

"Collectively, we volunteered our time to reconnect with service members," explained Collins, the USO's senior transition program manager.

Collins, Creighton and Ellis bring with them over 32 years of military service to the USO mission.

The USO Transition program extends and enlarges the USO's expertise by helping active duty, Reserve, National Guard, and military spouses by offering professional development services throughout the duration of their military service, as well as during preparation for post-military life.

The USO NW Transition team also supports all service members, military spouses, Coast Guard, Space Force, Reservists, and National Guardsmen in Alaska, Northern California (everything north of Los Angeles), Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

"The feeling of ‘we've got your back' is present within the Transition team and the USO NW," said Collins.

"The opportunity to provide one-on-one support, fill information gaps, and provide substantial opportunities to connect, learn, and prepare for the next journey, whether it's a PCS or taking the final leap into the civilian world, is what the team is about."

Burley knows this to be true.

A few weeks after collaborating with Creighton, she commented that she had found her dream job - working for the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs.

"She was so excited about this that she scheduled several virtual face-to-face meetings to speak about how she should approach each step of the hiring process," said Creighton. "She valued the outside perspective of her Transition Specialist."

Burley was made aware that the job she sought was highly popular and highly sought after. Determined to do her best, she asked Creighton if the transition team had any resources that would help her prepare for an interview.

"We do," stated Creighton, "and she passed the interview with flying colors ... and was offered the position."

Not long after taking the job, Burley called Creighton to tell him that without the USO Transition Program at JBLM, the advice of the interview coaches, and the advice from him, she felt she would not have gotten the job.

"It's never too early to plan for your transition," said Creighton. "We recommend speaking with us as soon as possible so we can come up with a plan together on how to move forward."

To learn more about the program, visit

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