Changes in the Transition Assistance Program
There have been extensive changes in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for those Servicemembers leaving the military. Gone are ‘death by PowerPoint’ presentations. In its place is an interagency (Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Labor (DOL), Small Business Administration (SBA)) Transition GPS (Goals, Plans, Success) program. This five to seven day event, generally within 180 days of separation, has established Career Readiness Standards for every transitioning Servicemember regardless of Service. For those of you who have already separated, we’ll tell you how you can see the new program and what you may have missed.
This mandatory interagency Transition GPS program is broken down into several different segments:
- An overview. A military occupational codes crosswalk, resilient transition overview, and financial planning seminar conducted by the Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard). This training provides the foundational pieces for a successful transition.
- Employment Workshop. A three-day Employment Workshop conducted by DOL addresses factors that contribute to successful employment transition, as well as challenges that may interfere with work performance. The intent is to provide transitioning Servicemembers with the skills needed to find and maintain a private or public sector civilian job.
- VA Benefits Brief. A two-segment Benefits Brief by VA informs transitioning Servicemembers of their Veterans benefits options to include information on education, health care, life insurance, home loans, VA disability compensation, and the eBenefits portal. In addition, VA provides individual assistance to address specific questions about benefits, help with filing claims, and establish a profile on the Veteran’s Employment Center.
- A Capstone event, conducted before a Servicemembers’ transition from military service and sponsored by the Services, confirms all objectives of the Career Readiness Standards have been met and a viable plan to successfully achieve transition goals has been established. Representatives from DOL, VA, SBA, and other community organizations attend the CAPSTONE event to ensure Servicemembers connect with the proper resources as they become Veterans.
Servicemembers may also select and participate in optional two-day Transition GPS tracks as well which include:
- The DoD-sponsored Education Track in which Servicemembers intending to pursue a college education receive guidance to prepare for the college application process by identifying an education goal, exploring education funding, and researching and comparing institutions. Upon completing the education track, Servicemembers will be prepared to submit an application to an academic institution, schedule a session with a counselor from the institution, and connect with a Student Veterans Organization on campus.
- The VA-sponsored Career Technical Training Track workshop assists transitioning Servicemembers and their spouses to identify civilian occupations, establish career goals, and begin applications for credentials and vocational training. Servicemembers pursuing further technical training will receive guidance and help in selecting schools and technical fields with an emphasis on such topics as selection of a reputable career and technical training school, the application process from start to finish, and how to use certification finder web tools and other web tools that identify licensed occupations.
- The SBA-sponsored Entrepreneurial Track, in which Servicemembers pursuing self-employment in the private or non-profit sector will learn about the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, the benefits and realities of entrepreneurship, and the steps toward business ownership. Upon completing the Entrepreneurship track, Servicemembers will have developed the initial components of their business plan and after completing an optional eight-week online course, will be connected with a small business owner to mentor and guide them through their business start-up.
It is never too early, or too late, to make plans for the future. Servicemembers, Veterans, and their spouses can view and re-visit valuable Transition GPS information and resources at any time, pre- or post-transition, by accessing the curriculum through the eBenefits website (another shameless pitch to sign up for eBenefits). If you have specific questions about Transition GPS or VA benefits and services, or wish to attend a VA Benefits Briefing or Career Technical Training Track, contact your local Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Manager, by visiting http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil/.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to also remind you about our integrated employment tool, the Veterans Employment Center (VEC), in the eBenefits portal. The VEC was developed to put America’s current and former military personnel and their families in the job search driver’s seat by translating and matching their extensive training and experience with available jobs. Additionally, the VEC provides employers who are seeking to leverage the skills and talents of those who have served our county to ability to search thousands of Veterans profiles – leveraging eBenefits as the validator that they are searching through actual Veteran profiles.
I encourage you to utilize and inform others about the Veterans Employment Center which can be found at: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/jobs