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Veterans use revamped program to ease into civilian life

By Joel Fortner | Air Force Public Affairs Agency | Aug. 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A redesigned program will help ease every Airman's transition to civilian life and help them better apply their military experience, Air Force officials said.

The program is the first major overhaul of the transition assistance program for military members in nearly 20 years. The effort began in response to a call from President Barack Obama in August 2011 to ensure all service members are "career ready" when they leave the military.

Slated to begin service-wide in November, the current three-day, optional program will be expanded to five days. It has also been redesigned into a comprehensive, mandatory program that includes pre-separation counseling, a military-to-civilian skills review, a Veterans Affairs benefits briefing, financial planning support, job-search skills building and individual transition plan preparation.

A pilot program was held July 9-13 at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, which allowed Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs to test the initiative.

According to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, the redesigned program bolsters and standardizes the transition services that service members receive, prior to retiring or separating from the military, to make them employment ready.

"America's Airmen have extraordinary technical expertise and world-class leadership skills that are in high demand," Donley said. "Our goal is to provide Airmen leaving the service with a comprehensive transition assistance program that prepares them for life after the military."

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy said the program is as good for the civilian sector as it is for Airmen.

"Employers are looking for educated, trained and experienced people like those who are separating from the Air Force," he said. "This program will help smooth the transition to civilian life for our Airmen."

Under the old program, separating Guardsmen and Reservists were often left to their own devices. Roy said another benefit of this new program is the inclusion of the Total Force.

"We want to take care of all our Airmen, and this program does that," he said. "No component of our Total Force deserves more help transitioning than another."

By October 2013, three two-day optional sessions on pursuing a technical certification, starting a business or pursuing a higher educational degree will also be offered to Airmen.

For more information, contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center or email af.a1saa@pentagon.af.mil.