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NEWS | March 15, 2013

Redesigned program guides members through transition

By Mike Joseph JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

The Department of Defense standardized the Transition Assistance Program across the board for all branches of service to include the reserves and National Guard.

Though still referred to as TAP, the redesigned "Goals, Plans, Success" program was expanded into a five-day curriculum that includes a three-day employment workshop, plus various briefings and counseling sessions.

Military members who voluntarily separate or retire are required to attend a mandatory pre-separation briefing.

The briefing is an overview of military entitlements (DD Form 2648) and a prerequisite before enrollment into the transition "Goals, Plans, Success" or GPS portion of the program.
A retiring member is eligible to attend the mandatory pre-separation briefing up to two years before his or her official retirement date.

For voluntary or involuntary separating members, attendance can be as early as one year.
It is highly recommended that attendance be completed no later than 90 days before separation.

Determined to give service members a greater chance of success after leaving the military, DOD has hired four additional counselors to the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland transition team to conduct the program.

"DOD wants members leaving the military to be more prepared and have some type of plan," said Della Gooding, a Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant.

"Whether separating or retiring, a lot of military members do not have a plan. The additional counselors are a great asset to help them."

Through the GPS approach and transition counselors' assistance, Gooding said separating or retiring members are provided tools necessary to help them "decide the next chapter of their lives."

"All military members have a career field that's transferable to the civilian world," Gooding said.

"Whether a member is unsure about what they want to do or has a plan, we can provide the resources to assist them." To start the week, members receive the Military Occupational Code Crosswalk and tools for financial planning. The crosswalk translates military skills, training and experience into civilian sector skills language.

It also illustrates how to identify civilian opportunities and requirements in relation to a member's military experience.

Following the Crosswalk, the next three days are spent in a Department of Labor employment workshop, where individuals continue to evolve and develop their transition plans and goals.

This workshop focuses on career exploration, resources, job search plans, resumes, interview skills and the federal civilian hiring process.

The final day covers military benefits such as veteran affairs and education.

Transition counselors, who've guided and assisted members throughout the week, review individual transition plans to ensure required career readiness standards are met.

"When they come to the workshop, they start getting ideas they haven't thought about," said Jerome Davis, an Airman & Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant at Lackland.

"Some don't know their eyes have been closed, but by the end of the week they look at things very differently. It gets them to think about their next move."

One of the first moves is subtle and occurs before the course begins.

"We ask them to wear civilian business attire on purpose," Gooding said.

"We're trying to establish a mindset of making a decision about what to wear on a daily basis. For x-number of years, you've put the same thing on - a uniform - every day."

The transition program was redesigned by an interagency government team. It included representatives from DOD, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor, Department of Education, Department of Homeland, Security, Office of Personnel Management, and the Small Business Administration.

"All of the local, state and federal agencies are aware of the revamp. They're all in agreement to come on board 100 percent," Gooding said.

"It has taken us into the 21st century."

For more information about transition assistance, contact the Lackland AFRC at 671-3722.