First off, the answer is “yes.” I loved to fly as a U.S. Naval aviator.

But the best part of my service – first as an aviator, later in the Pentagon, and now in the Reserves – has been watching young men and women, from every walk of life, earn a place at the American table through the G.I. Bill. That program helped build our country’s middle class by providing millions of military veterans a path to higher education through service.

So, when I first learned about a program Amazon offers to the associates who power the company’s operations and logistics network, called Career Choice, it immediately evoked the GI Bill:  Earning access to life-changing educational opportunity through one’s work.

With Amazon’s continued growth in California since 2012, with over 18,000 full-time fulfillment center associates – and a new fulfillment center in Sacramento about to launch – this Career Choice program provides a lens for understanding who the company is as an employer and community partner.

The Career Choice program works like this: after 1 continuous year of service at Amazon, every hourly associate is eligible for up to $12,000 – $3,000 per year for four years – to apply to college-level courses leading to careers in in-demand jobs fields.

Many companies offer tuition assistance benefits, but this program is a bit peculiar. First, it is exclusively for the hourly workforce, not white collar workers. Second, the $3,000 per year is pre-paid directly to the educational institution; no associate has to reach into their pocket then wait for reimbursement (which can be a significant inhibitor). But most significantly, Amazon “does the homework in advance” to help guide associates to qualifications in those career paths most in demand. Think: nursing, IT specialist, commercial driver, solar panel installer. We use Bureau of Labor Statistics data, along with local labor market studies, to help determine precisely the most sought-out roles in a given community, then pay for courses of study exclusively in those fields.

So far, over 12,000 Amazonians have taken advantage of Career Choice in ten countries. And we’ve set a goal to reach 20,000 in the near-term.

Of course, it begs the question: is Amazon really paying for training that will help its employees leave the company? The answer is yes. We recognize that many people will spend a career with Amazon, and we welcome that. But we’re realistic that, for many, Amazon may be just one stop along the path toward their personal and professional goals.

Take a look at a recent Careerbuilder survey, which found that 45 percent of employees plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. By the age of 35, 25 percent of current workers have held five jobs or more. This phenomenon is often associated with the millennial generation – and with good reason: 36 percent of millennials reported that they intended to look for a new employer within the next 12 months (compared to 21 percent for non-millennials).

Companies ought to embrace this new reality, and make employees’ time with them rewarding by opening up opportunities for advancement – even if that means advancement outside of the company.

We think it’s the right thing to do. But helping to upskill employees makes good business sense as well. It can help recruit better talent, drive engagement, and reduce attrition.

We believe in Career Choice so whole-heartedly in fact that we are willing to share what we’ve learned and offer our help to any company interested in setting up something similar for their employees, at no cost. Why? Because we know that if more companies join us in this initiative, it can have a profound effect on not just individuals’ lives, but on the broader economy.

Californians ought to seek out employers who offer opportunities to gain new skills; and if you think some variation of this approach can help your company, Amazon wants to partner with you.