Last week, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office became the newest participant in a U.S. Army program that guarantees former soldiers an interview for potential employment after they leave the service.

Officials from the sheriff’s office and Army convened at the sheriff’s La Plata headquarters Thursday morning for a brief ceremony signifying a new partnership between the two. The Partnership for Youth Success program, also known as PaYS, is a collaborative effort between the Army and employers, both public and private.

Lt. Col. Nathan Allard, the commander of the Army’s recruiting battalion in Baltimore, said the program is as beneficial for the soldiers as it is for the employers. Soldiers, Allard said in remarks at the event, get the satisfaction of knowing the selected employers value the service the men and women applying provided for the country, and the employers in turn gain access to a “pool of professionals with exceptional work habits who have been held to the highest standards of conduct” from which they can select new hires.

The program has been in effect for 20 years, Allard said, and currently has 874 partners ranging from big corporations like Amazon to local operations like the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Troy D. Berry (D), speaking at the event, said the partnership is a good means of showing both the agency’s commitment to helping local youth and to hiring veterans. Outgoing soldiers, Berry said, may be ideal candidates for future sheriff’s deputies as they espouse many of the same virtues.

“It reassures parents and guardians that we invest in our sons and daughters while preparing them for the future,” Berry said. “By partnering with the Army through the PaYS program, it is a win-win for everyone involved.”

Sheriff’s office Cpl. Rochelle Williams, herself a veteran of the Army and current recruiter for the agency, said her military experience has inimitable value. After four years of active duty as a soldier, Williams began her law enforcement career by working as a dispatcher in a neighboring jurisdiction before coming to work as a police officer in Charles County and is now a 15-year veteran of the agency.

“The Army experience was like no other,” Williams said. “Looking back, there was no college in this universe that could have possibly taught me the discipline, honor, integrity, leadership and life skills that the Army and my fellow sisters and brothers in arms taught me.”

Her decade-plus of service, Williams said, has allowed her to continue to meaningfully serve her country and her community. There is a similar sense of camaraderie, she said, between police and soldiers. Through the agency’s participation in the PaYS program, Williams said, she hopes to mentor the next generation of leaders in law enforcement.

At the end of the ceremony, Allard administered the oath of enlistment to five new recruits who will participate in the PaYS program once their terms of active Army service are completed. Through swearing the oath, Allard said, the teens have already distinguished themselves as exceptional.

“In America, you don’t serve a king, you don’t serve a queen, you don’t even serve the president,” Allard said before giving the oath. “We serve the Constitution of the United States of America, and that’s what makes being a soldier in our army extremely special. ... You are special, and I thank you so much for coming here.”

Twitter: @LindsayIndyNews

Twitter: @LindsayIndyNews