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John Nichols, deputy director for business operations for the Arizona Department of Transportation, said participating in the Army's Partnership for Youth Success program will help connect his department with highly qualified employees. (Photo by Andrew Knochel/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX -- When Anthony Nitz ends his stint as a military police officer, he'll have a better shot at fulfilling his dream of working in civilian law enforcement thanks to a partnership between the Army and employers.

"To know that I'll have an interview with a reputable place that's not going anywhere any time soon, it just means a lot," said Nitz, a Phoenix resident set to begin his military service. "It means a lot to my family too."

On Thursday, he attended a ceremony at which the Arizona Department of Transportation joined the Partnership for Youth Success, which helps match those entering the Army with job opportunities after their service.

Participating soldiers are connected with one of the more than 400 companies and government agencies in the program, and they are guaranteed a job interview after leaving the Army.

An employer steers participants toward the Army training and certification that will help soldiers achieve their career goals.

John Nichols, ADOT's deputy director for business operations, said the program will help connect his department with highly qualified employees to fill hundreds of positions in engineering, truck maintenance and other areas.

"Like any big organization, finding good employees, trained, experienced people, is very, very difficult," Nichols said.

"What this program means is we can get young people coming out of the military who already have the training needed to jump right into the job and start out," he added. "We don't have have to invest a lot of time and energy into them. So it's a big win-win for the Department of Transportation."

ADOT joins 13 partner employers based in Arizona, including U-Haul International Inc. and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, and 50 other organizations that recruit in Arizona.

Lt. Col. Jennifer McAfee, who commands the Army's Phoenix recruiting battalion, said the program has 3.6 million job opportunities in a wide range of industries, offering soldiers confidence that they'll have a job when they finish their service.

"It just fits," McAfee said. "It fits for the soldier to come back and have the same skills."

Nitz said he's glad to know he'll have a better shot at the career he wants when his military service ends.

"It's a great opportunity for anyone who has it," Nitz said.

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