LACEY, Wash. -- Spending a year in Afghanistan taught Sgt. Bernard Bergan how to be a soldier and made him a proud American.
"Loss of life is a reality of what we deal with," said Bergan.
But the education he needed to start a career in the software industry came during a 16-week course at St. Martin's University in Lacey.
Monday Bergan became one of 22 graduates of the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy, a free program offered to outgoing Joint Base Lewis McChord soldiers. He and nine other soldiers were offered jobs at Microsoft when they get out of the military.
"This was one of those 'too good to be true' opportunities," said Bergan.
More soldiers are being offered post-military career training as part of the 2011 "Vow to Hire Heroes Act."
Similar classes have offered education in the welding and HV/AC trades.
Every year an estimated 6,000-8,000 soldiers leave the military from Joint Base Lewis McChord.
Bergen said more companies should hire soldiers who he said are typically loyal and hardworking.
"America trusted us to go overseas," said Bergen.