Algonquin College hosts military open house in Pembroke, Ont.

Algonquin College hosted current and former military members in Pembroke, Ont. on Saturday, for the school’s first military open house.

A memorandum of collaboration was signed between the college and CFB Petawawa. The partnership commits both sides to assisting active members looking to leave the military to enrol in programs at Algonquin.

“The rigours of military life, it’s not the easiest career path and it’s great to help the transition from military life into civilian life,” CFB Petawawa base Commander Col. Jason Guiney said.

In a 2019 survey, Algonquin College in Pembroke found that 30 per cent of its student body had a direct connection to the military base located just up Highway 17.

Another key aspect of the partnership is the upgrading of skills and education for veterans and members transitioned out of active duty.

“Through a soldier’s military career they get skill sets, some of them that are transferable into the civilian job market such as a mechanic,” explains Guiney.

“And others such as an armoured soldier or infantry soldier where those skills are not necessarily transferable into the civilian market.”

Daniel Larente served 17-and-a-half years in the Canadian Armed Forces as a military police officer. He left the service in October 2021 and has been enrolled in the outdoor adventure program at Algonquin since.

“I think in my time I got a lot of the skill sets I’m using now and they’re just being shaped a different way,” Larente tells CTV News.

“When I needed help [the college] was here to help.”

While the transition to a new way of life can be tough, Algonquin College Pembroke campus Dean Sarah Hall says military members have taken up career paths in many of the campus’s streams.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of ex-military people come into our trades program, carpentry and renovation. You heard today computer systems, all of our health programs, outdoor programs, forestry.”

Holly Antle attended Saturday’s open house. She has served as a medical technician for 22 years with the Canadian military and is being forced to transition out due to medical reasons.

“It’s kind of scary to think about not being in the military and being a civilian,” she says.

With interest in outdoor adventure and trades programs, Antle admits she is nervous to step out of the only life she has known.

“I have to prepare myself for getting out of the military. So info gathering and formulating a plan is part of the deal.”

Despite making the pathway out of the military more prominent with this partnership, Guiney says he isn’t worried about more members looking to leave the armed forces.

“It’s a demonstration that if you come into the military, we’ll train you and whether you’re released, the military has a mechanism to help the soldiers do that.”

“So I think that’s something that would attract someone to coming in knowing they’ll be taken care of.”

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