The military’s Transition Assistance Program is designed to make the process easier. But does it? Some military families are reluctant to take advantage of the TAP program. The apprehension comes from rumors they’ve heard about the TAP of the past. But the TAP program of today may be more robust, and more useful, than you think. Here’s what you can expect.

Mandatory TAP session are broken into three parts – pre-separation counseling, the TAP curriculum, and Capstone. Pre-separation counseling is ideally done twelve-to-twenty-four months before a service member separates. A counselor sits down with a service member and his spouse to discuss education, training, employment, career goals, financial management, health, wellbeing, housing and relocation. This conversation lays out the big picture goals for a service member’s post-military life.

The TAP curriculum is a week-long classroom course to create a plan around to support the goals the service member has already identified. The classroom instruction includes a Department of Defense Component, a Veterans’ Administration component, and a Department of Labor component. The DoD portion includes advice on how the civilian world differs from the military world, financial planning, and how to translate your military skills. The VA portion reviews benefits available to veterans and how to apply for them. The Department of Labor portion is a step-by-step guide to applying for a post military job.

The Capstone is simply the review process where a commander reviews what you’ve accomplished in TAP, and that you have the tools to succeed post-military. If there are additional elements of your transition plan that need assistance – whether it’s resume advice or a better understanding of your VA benefits, the Capstone element is your chance to review where you’re at with your leadership and get any additional help you need.

Like most things, TAP is what you make it. But don’t let yourself be fooled by a rumor that the program is a waste of time. Taken as one part of a broader, personalized transition plan, it should be considered an essential step toward your new mission – a civilian job.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.