DoD official describes transition program progress

by Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News
Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The redesigned Transition Assistance Program gives separating service members a "unique set of capabilities" as they enter the civilian workforce, Susan Kelly, defense transition to veterans program office director, told a House Veterans Affairs Committee panel yesterday.

In a review of the program before members of the economic opportunity subcommittee, Kelly outlined strides the Defense Department has made with the new TAP, in collaboration with several interagency partners, such as the veterans affairs and labor departments.

Kelly emphasized that the new program will help more than 1 million service members transition from active duty in the next four years.

Career-readiness Standards

"The foundation of the redesigned TAP is a set of career-readiness standards that are verified for all transitioning service members no later than 90 days prior to their separation from the military," she explained.

If civilian career readiness standards are not met, service members receive further training or a "warm hand-over" to interagency partners who ensure they receive post-separation assistance, Kelly added.

"Part of the redesign includes the robust 'Transition GPS curriculum - Goals, Plans, Success.' It builds the skills that transitioning service members need to meet in career-readiness standards and it is now fully implemented at 206 military sites in the United States and overseas," she said, adding that three supplemental training tracks exist for those who want to pursue higher education, technical training or entrepreneurship.

The five-day program also is offered for service members around the world through DoD's Joint Knowledge Online platform, Kelly said.

TAP Evaluation Strategy Progresses

A strategy for evaluating and assessing TAP has shown substantial progress, Kelly told the House panel. Its three goals are accountability, customer satisfaction and program effectiveness, she said. Long-term measures also are being developed by VA, DoL and the Small Business Administration, she said.

"Outcome measures are a priority for the TAP evaluation strategy, beginning with [The Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011] and career-readiness compliance," Kelly said.

DoD-verified data to date shows active-duty service members' compliance across the services ranges from 91 percent to 97 percent, she said.

"These results account for three-quarters of the members who have separated from active duty," Kelly added.

Work Remains to Be Done

"We realize that we must work hard to close the remaining reporting gap," she said.

A comprehensive communications campaign to inform service members about the redesigned TAP was put in place during fiscal year 2014, Kelly said. This year, she added, the goal is to implement the Military Life Cycle transition level of the program.

According to DoD's TAP website, the MLC transition level is critical because it gives service members the chance to plan for their post-separation career and see how their military skills can be used in the civilian world; it enables DoD to show how the services prepare their members for transition, and it optimizes how these highly trained and adaptable people can rapidly contribute to civilian society.

"This marks a major cultural shift for the department," Kelly said. "In December, the military services reported to the White House that Military Life Cycle transition preparation was fully implemented at their installations, which the new TAP interagency governance structure will continue to monitor and improve."

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