The DOD COOL Program is a way for DOD members to earn industry-recognized professional certifications, licenses to enhance their active-duty work, and to prepare them as they transition to the civilian job-market or an officer position. The program pays up-front for these exam fees and is available to all branches of the military. There is also a Civilian COOL program. Additionally, the licenses and credentials that you are seeking DO NOT have to apply to your current career and skillsets. So, if you are looking to transition to the flight deck, you can use the DOD COOL program to cover the costs of your written exams for private pilot certificate and beyond. If you are a reservist or guardsmen, you can use the program while on Title 10 or Title 32 (502f) orders. The video above from Beyond the Uniform Podcast explains in detail how the program works for different branches. To see detailed information about the branch that applies to you visit the DOD COOL Portal.

GI Bill

The GI Bill is a great resource for paying for college and other training. RTAG has a great article detailing how to use the GI Bill and other programs to become a pilot. Click here to view the article and resources.  Military Benefits also has a helpful article here. For VA benefits information on flight training, click here.

Rated Prep Program (Air Force)

“The Rated Preparatory Program provides a unique opportunity for officers and enlisted personnel to become rated officers,” said Brig. Gen. Brenda P. Cartier, AETC director of operations and communications. “Through RPP, qualified Airmen gain skills they may have not had the opportunity or resources to gain before entering the Air Force. We want to provide our Airmen the tools to pursue their lifelong dream of flying in the Air Force—a dream they may have never thought possible.” Program participants will receive self-paced ground training, about eight flight hours in a Civil Air Patrol Cessna 182 Skylane, and additional training in FAA-certified simulators—helping them become more competitive for rated selection-boards. Find more information here.

Additional Resources:

RTAG is a Veteran run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed to help all veterans, regardless of experience, jumpstart their post-military career in the world of aviation. They host annual events/job fairs/conferences that are highly-beneficial to military members hoping to transition from enlisted-to-officer or into civilian aviation. They also offer an annual scholarship and constantly provide resources that are useful to transitioning military members. I highly recommend joining their Facebook page and following them on other forms of social media for continued resources and discussions.

Stripes to Bars is a 501(c)(3) public charity that enables qualified veterans to earn Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificates. They are passionate about assisting Veterans in their transition from military to civilian life, while increasing the pilot population. Click here for more information.

Mission 43

Mission 43 is made up of current- and retired-military personnel and their spouses. Their goal is to serve military families through various programs to help treat TBI, PTSD and substance abuse disorders. They also host a podcast and aim to encourage and empower current- and transitioning-military members through telling inspiring stories. In Mission43’s Education Discovery Series: Aviation, they sit down with Shane McKenna to provide insight into using state education assistance benefits as a member of the Army National Guard, Part 61 and Part 141 flight schools, and the process of becoming a professional aviator. Watch the video above and click here for detailed information and scholarships. Listen to more episodes of the podcast here or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Pat Tillman Foundation

The Pat Tillman Foundation Scholarship is provided each year by the Pat Tillman Foundation. The foundation selects remarkable service members, veterans and military spouses as they look to begin their next chapter as public and private sector leaders. As a Tillman Scholar, you have the opportunity to earn more than a military scholarship; you are part of a network of leaders making an impact. This scholarship is great for paying for college or any continuing education. Becoming a Tillman Scholar also opens up countless possibilities through networking and being part of a global community of high performing peers and mentors. Click here for eligibility and requirements.

Pilot Pipeline knows that navigating the aviation industry can be a nightmare. To help streamline the process and stop you from spending hours on the web reading thousands of pages of regulatory requirements, browsing hundreds of training providers, and applying to countless employment opportunities, they created a software program that consolidates all of the relevant information in a centralized location while calculating the time, cost and earnings of each step. What’s even better? Once you make a decision on your desired path, their Timeline Assistant will tell you everything that you need to do and when to do it. Check out their resources and website here!