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Airmen in transition
"Transition Goals Planning Success," an overhauled version of the traditional Transition Assistance Program servicemembers attend before leaving active duty, was implemented military-wide Nov. 21, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Kate Thornton/Released)
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Revamped Transition Assistance Program prepares vets for civilian life

Posted 11/30/2012   Updated 11/30/2012 Email story   Print story

    


by Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/30/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- From the moment servicemembers join the military, they are told where to be, when to be there and what to do.

When the time comes for them to separate or retire, the transition to a less-structured civilian life can be challenging.

"Transition Goals Planning Success," an overhauled version of the traditional Transition Assistance Program servicemembers attend before leaving active duty, was implemented military-wide Nov. 21.

"The goal of the new program is for veterans to be career-ready when they leave the military and to reduce their unemployment and homeless numbers," said Brigit Hendrix, the Airman & Family Readiness Center's TAP coordinator. "The new program focuses on what each individual needs to succeed and be career-ready. The new curriculum gives them the tools they will need, whether they want to go to college, get a job or start a business. Transition GPS provides them with the necessary resources to get on track."

The call for a revamped TAP came directly from President Barack Obama, who in late 2011 tasked the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, along with other government agencies, to reform the program.

The original program was pre-separation counseling followed by an optional three-day workshop. Transition GPS steps it up by making the five- to seven-day program mandatory and incorporating individual counseling.

Participants are still briefed on VA benefits and counseled on finances. Each still prepares an individual transition plan on their planned path: education, entrepreneurship or technical training.

"The DOD puts a lot of effort into helping veterans be prepared when they get out," said Col. Joseph Atkins, 8th Mission Support Group commander. "In the past, the class was optional so they were breaking away without the tools or resources they needed. Now, veterans will separate or retire with a better idea of what they need to do next."

One of the toughest parts for transitioning veterans can be translating their military experience into useful civilian skills. For example, a security forces member who led a fire team while deployed could highlight managing teams in stressful situations.

"I definitely feel more prepared coming out of this class than I did before," said Senior Airman Paul Foster, an 8th Maintenance Squadron nondestructive inspector who is separating next year to work in the energy field. "The most useful thing I'm getting out of it is the resume-writing skills. We're learning how to organize the information to get an advantage when finding a job. It's nice to know the military is helping its people out."

Transition GPS will be implemented in all services, including the Coast Guard, by the end of 2013.



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