Each year, nearly 200,000 veterans leave military service. The return to civilian life is known as the military to civilian transition. To help you make a successful transition, The Departments of Defense (DoD), Education, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs (VA), along with the Small Business Administration and the Office of Personnel Management, have partnered to create the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). TAP provides information, tools, training, and job-search assistance so that service members and their spouses are ready to succeed in the civilian world.
What Services are Provided by TAP?
Services include comprehensive workshops held at select military installations. The workshops are run by professionally-trained facilitators who work at state employment services, military family support services, Department of Labor contractors, and the VA.
What Will I Learn About In These Workshops?
- Pre-separation counseling
- Relocation assistance
- Career decision-making
- Job searches
- Current occupational and labor market conditions
- Resume and cover letter writing
- Interviewing techniques
- Evaluation of employability relative to the job market
- Information on veteran’s benefits, including education and training, health and life insurance
If you are separating from the military with a service-connected disability, the Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP) is available. You’ll get additional instruction to help determine your job readiness and address any special needs of disabled veterans.
Spouses are also encouraged to attend benefits briefings and meet with Benefits Advisors.
When Does My Transition Begin?
You must begin the transition process a minimum of 365 days before separation or retirement. If you’re retiring, it’s recommended that you begin the transition process at least two years prior to retirement. If your separation or retirement is unexpected and happens less than 365 days from the event, TAP must begin as soon as possible within your remaining period of service.
What Is The TAP Curriculum?
The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) curriculum is a modular curriculum designed to prepare you for civilian life. It provides you information and resources on a variety of topics related to employment, higher education, finance, transition stress, entrepreneurship, and more. TAP also offers online courses tied to the curriculum. You can view the TAP classes scheduled for your service component or select the specific courses listed by the provider (i.e., the VA).
Each service manages its own transition programs that meet the needs of services members in their branch of the military.
Here are the individual service’s transition programs:
What Are The TAP Steps?
Here are the steps to making the successful transition from the military to civilian life:
- Individualized initial counseling (IC) – You’ll meet with a TAP counselor and create a personal self-assessment and begin working on an Individual Transition Plan (ITP).
- Pre-separation counseling – This session covers benefits, entitlements, and resources. Caregivers and spouses are encouraged to attend pre-separation counseling with you.
- DoD Pre-Separation Training Day – This eight-hour day of training includes curriculum modules on building resiliency by managing your transition (MyTransition), a Military Occupational Code Crosswalk.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Briefing – This session provides you with info on VA Benefits.
- The Department of Labor (DOL) Briefing – This required briefing will provide you with info on employment services offered by the DOL.
- Capstone Event – The Capstone is the culminating event for TAP, where commanders verify that you have are prepared to transition from military to civilian life. You must show that you have achieved career readiness standards and have a viable ITP. The Capstone event must happen no later than 90 days before separation.
Specialized Transition Assistance Program Career Tracks
Since no person has the same transition goals, you may select one of the following two-day, individual tracks designed to help you achieve your personal goals:
- DOL Employment Track – If you are looking to enter the workforce.
- DOL Vocational Track – If you want to explore a vocational school or a technical job.
- SBA Entrepreneurship Track – If you are interested in self-employment or starting a veteran-owned business or nonprofit.
- DoD Higher Education Track – If you want to go back to school and get your degree.
- Women’s Health Transition Training Track – If you are a transitioning servicewoman and want to understand available VA health care benefits and services, including how to enroll in VA health care and other transition assistance tools and resources.
For more information on the TAP program visit the Department of Labor.
Jim spent 22 years on active duty, climbing the ranks from Airman Basic to a decorated Air Force Major. Stationed all over the world, he held many high-level posts, including Chief of Foreign Military Sales at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jim earned his Ph.D. through the Montgomery Era GI Bill and spent 13 years teaching African Studies in Pennsylvania. Jim is also an award-winning travel writer.