On Sept. 11, a group of military veterans and supporters donned their running shoes and headed out of Seattle bearing an American flag. Nineteen days later, on Sept. 30, another group approached Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, carrying the same flag. The groups are taking part in the Old Glory Relay (OGR), an event designed to raise support for military vets and help them connect with citizens as they run cross-country toward the flag’s final destination in Tampa, Florida.
At Camp Pendleton’s Las Pulgas gate, a cyclist with Team Red, White and Blue handed off Old Glory to a contingent of 22 active-duty Marines, two Marine vets, and two Sailors, all led by Lee Marine, Field Operations Program Manager for Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA). The team ran together as a unit for the first two miles before breaking up into three smaller teams that each covered a section of the 13-mile run across base.
There was constant cheering, honking and waving from civilians and fellow Marines as the runners made their way to the south gate, in Oceanside. From there, a new team of runners carried the flag to its evening destination at the U.S.S. Midway Museum in San Diego. Later that evening, Rocky Quach, Marine Staff Sergeant and MSSA class leader spoke at an event in San Diego’s Horton Plaza.
The Old Glory Relay is put on each year by Team RWB, a nonprofit group committed to helping enrich the lives of America’s vets and helping them in the sometimes difficult transition to civilian life. That transition is very real for the Marines who carried the flag across Camp Pendleton, since their terms of service are all drawing to a close.
As members of the seventh MSSA cohort at Camp Pendleton, the 26 cohort members are all taking part in an 18-week program that’s designed to help them gain the career skills necessary to transition out of the military and into a career in tech.
During their time in MSSA, they get access to technical training, certification testing and practical exercises. They’re also paired up with mentors from Microsoft who offer valuable guidance on critical soft skills such as writing a powerful resume, conducting an effective job search, interview preparation and networking effectively.
Once the program is over, MSSA graduates have the opportunity to interview for open positions with Microsoft or one of its many partners in the tech sector. Currently, MSSA is offered on three military bases (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Fort Campbell and Camp Pendleton), and will be opening its doors at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning on Oct. 17 and at the San Diego Community Campus on Jan. 9. MSSA is projected to expand to nine regions servicing 14 bases across the U.S. in the coming years.
The community base model opens the program to a wider group of service members allowing them to determine a schedule that works best for their military duties and personal life while training for high-paying, meaningful careers in technology. With our learning partner, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), the San Diego Community Campus will serve the community near Naval Station San Diego, Naval Air Station North Island and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.