Transitioning back to civilian life after spending four years (or more) or even an entire career serving in the military is a big step. Figuring out where you’ll live, if you’ll be working or going to school, or where your children will go to school are life-changing decisions. The military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) strives to help make the process easier.
The process begins with pre-separation counseling, ideally done 12 to 24 months before separation, when a counselor discusses education, training, employment, career goals, financial management, health, well-being, housing and relocation with the service member and his/her spouse.
TAP is the result of an interagency collaboration. The basic TAP curriculum is broken down into three main parts: Department of Defense (DoD), Veterans Administration (VA) and Department of Labor (DoL).
During the DoD portion, service members go through three different classes:
Resilient Transition- The differences that can be expected when going from the military to the civilian world
Military Crosswalk- A look at how the skills acquired through military service can translate to the civilian workplace and how they can be used in applying for jobs, resumes and interviewing.
Financial Planning- A comparison of civilian salaries and military pay, the change in taxes, and how transitioning can impact finances.
During the VA portion, representatives discuss the benefits available through the VA and how to apply for them.
The DoL portion is an employment workshop that uses a military operational approach to planning employment, with discussions that range from gathering intelligence to identifying resources to plan development to timelines.
Around the 90-day mark from separation, service members are evaluated as part of the Capstone portion to see if they are ready to transition or if they feel they need more assistance. The program is accessible online at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/programs/tap.