The New State of Veteran Transition

TAP prepares transitioning service members for civilian life

Every President – in his role as Commander-in-Chief – has a direct impact on US veterans. Sometimes, it’s the result of either starting or ending a military conflict. In other instances, the impact affects many generations of vets to come, in the form of veterans’ benefits. President Obama directed the VA and DOD to craft the first redesign of the Transitional Assistance Program that had taken place in over 20 years.

After a summer run-through of integral parts for the revised TAP, most of the innovations will be operational as of November, 2012. Some changes will be effective at the end of 2013 or no later than October, 2014.

Pre-Separation and Individual Counseling

Old timer vets may remember when counseling involved a quick meeting in the CO’s office, pretty much as their DD-214’s were being signed. They were asked about their future plans, much in the way a distant uncle asks about them as he’s signing the graduation gift check. According to Army Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Jason T. Evans, speaking through the DOD, all soldiers will now receive pre-separation counseling a year before they leave the service. According to the White House, this will be “to discuss their career goals and start their transition process.” Members will have a needs and goals assessment coupled with a counseling session about benefits, resources, and available assistance across a wide scope of military separation topics.

Out-processing will not be a passive, one-way street. Each service member will develop an Individual Veteran Transition Plan that documents his or her personal transition, as well as the deliverables he or she must attain to meet the new transition program’s Career Readiness Standards. Then, service personnel will attend the Department of Labor employment workshop and the Veterans Affairs benefits briefings.

5-Day Core Curriculum

The five-day Transition GPS Core Curriculum will include a financial planning seminar, a workshop offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs on available veterans’ benefits and services, and a re-designed employment workshop offered by the Department of Labor.

Transitioning service members will also undertake a Military Occupational Code Crosswalk to translate their military skills, training, and experience into civilian occupations, credentials, and employment. This has been considered one of the toughest challenges facing vets, to explain to a potential employer how their experience translates into the civilian world.  An Individual Transition Plan session will allow Members to seek guidance from subject matter experts, identify career goals, and develop a roadmap for their transition.

> Related: Stress & Cash During Transition

Career-Specific Additional Curriculum

According to the DOD, these are some of the programs scheduled for implementation throughout 2013 and into 2014: in addition to completing the Transition GPS Core Curriculum, transitioning service members will also have the option of participating in a series of two day tailored tracks within the Transition GPS curriculum: (1) an Education track, for those pursuing a higher education degree; (2) a Technical and Skills Training track, for those seeking job-ready skills and industry-recognized credentials in shorter-term training programs; and (3) an Entrepreneurship track, for those wanting to start a business. This tier system echoes how American high schools used to be set up in the days when there were lots of different options facing graduates, including further education, manufacturing and setting up one’s own business. This phase is considered the “full conversion to the military life-cycle transition”.

CAPSTONE Event

Before their separation from military service, service members will participate in a CAPSTONE event, verifying that members in fact achieved Career Readiness Standards.  Service members who require additional assistance will be referred to supplemental training opportunities. In addition, through the CAPSTONE event, all service members will be offered a “warm handover” to appropriate government agencies and organizations that will be able to provide them continued benefits, services, and support as veterans. This presents a welcome change to veterans who used to have to spend time untangling the bureaucratic red tape to find assistance.

Military Life Cycle Transition Mode

The new transition program will incorporate career readiness and transition preparation into the entire span of a service member’s career. In the past, transition and preparation for the civilian workforce occurred late in a service member’s time in the military, near the point of separation. Often, the transition came at a time of duress, such as when a service member was wounded and receiving a medical discharge. It was very difficult to have a full and effective transition in those circumstances. Also, the time devoted to the service member’s employment needs was clearly inadequate to get veterans trained to return to civilian employment. With the reality that most service members will be returning to the civilian workforce, these changes were crucial. Under this new program, these concepts will be incorporated earlier to ensure that the counseling, assessments, and access to resources to build skills or credentials occur at earlier stages of a service member’s military tenure.

> Tips: A Successful Transition

In 2014, a pilot will begin to institute a number of financial planning and individual transition planning courses. This is critical for young vets who may never have had the full responsibility of financial planning with a civilian paycheck or who may never have experienced a gap in receiving a paycheck. Additionally, civilian banking and loan programs present different challenges of which the service member should be made aware.

 

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