Tap into “TAP” for an Effective Transition
Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be exciting. But it can also be challenging and overwhelming at times, given the complex process that’s involved. With that in mind, the U.S. Military established the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to meet the needs of separating service members during their transition period by offering job-search assistance and related services. Below are the names of each service’s TAP, and three key steps for getting the most out of their offerings, based on guidance from Military.com (https://www.military.com/military-transition/3-steps-to-getting-ready.html):
- Army: Soldier For Life — formerly known as the Army Career and Alumni Program, or ACAP (https://www.soldierforlife.army.mil/).
- Air Force: Airman and Family Readiness Center .
- Navy: Fleet and Family Support Center.
- Marines: Career Resource Management Center (CRMC)/Transition & Employment Assistance Program Center .
- Coast Guard: Worklife Division – Transition Assistance (https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/).
Step 1. Schedule Your Pre-Separation Counseling
One of the first things you must do is to make an appointment to meet with your Transition/ACAP Office or Command Career Counselor. In most cases, these professionals can be found in the Family Center of your military installation’s Transition Assistance Office. They can assist you with special transition benefits information, employment workshops, automated employment job-hunting tools and job banks, veteran benefits information, and other particulars. Best of all, their assistance is free of charge!
Step 2. Review the Pre-Separation Counseling Checklist
Your Transition Counselor or Command Career Counselor will walk you through the Pre-Separation Counseling Checklist. At this meeting, he or she will:
- Assist you in developing an individual needs assessment.
- Identify helpful relocation resources.
- Offer immediate and long-range career guidance.
- Provide benefits counseling.
- Refer you to other service providers for any additional assistance you may require.
Step 3. Draft Your Individual Transition Plan
Information on developing your individual transition plan (ITP) is available through the Transition Assistance Office. You may want to use your Transition Counseling Checklist as a guide for developing your own unique ITP. Three key decision points to be considered when creating your ITP are money, benefits and employment. Once you’ve created your ITP, review it with your spouse or another adult family member and get their feedback. It is recommended you also review your ITP with a Department of Veterans Affairs counselor or a Department of Labor Career One Stop staff member.
PLEASE NOTE: You may schedule your Pre-Separation counseling appointment any time within a year before your planned separation date. But since it takes time to prepare for an effective transition, be sure to contact the office at least 180 days before your separation. By law, pre-separation counseling (completion of DD Form 2648, the “Pre-Separation Counseling Checklist”) must occur no later than 90 days prior to separation.