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Transition Assistance Programs and Resources

The military has an extensive array of services to help make your separation a success. If you're an active-duty service member, National Guard and Reserve Component service member, or service member's spouse, you can take advantage of these transition assistance resources and more.

A full year of support

As you transition into civilian life, you and your family have full access to Military OneSource for 365 days after separation or retirement.

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Transition resources and programs

Components of the TAP curriculum

TAP starts no later than 365 days prior to transition for those who are separating or retiring. It is recommended retirees begin the transition process at least two years prior to retirement. In the event of an unanticipated separation or retirement, or a member of the Reserve Component is demobilized with less than 365 days, TAP must begin as soon as possible within the remaining period of service.

  1. Individualized initial counseling
    Individualized initial counseling between the service member and a TAP counselor is now the official start to the transition process. During the IC session, service members complete their personal self-assessment and begin the development of their Individual Transition Plan to identify their unique needs for the transition process and post-transition goals.
  2. Pre-separation counseling
    Once the individualized counseling is complete, pre-separation counseling commences. Pre-separation counseling, just like IC, must start no later than 365 days prior to transition. Pre-separation counseling covers by-law information including benefits, entitlements and resources for eligible transitioning service members. Caregivers and spouses are especially encouraged to attend pre-separation counseling with their service member.
  3. The DoD Transition Day
    The DoD Transition Day follows pre-separation counseling, and is mandatory for transitioning service members. It covers these topics:
    • Managing Your Transition gives service members an understanding of the importance of preparing for their transition from military service into the civilian sector and provides an overview of the Transition Assistance Program curriculum. The “less obvious” topics of transition – such as personal and family transition concerns, the differences in the culture of civilian and military workplaces, transition-related stressors, and the importance of effective communication during the transition process – are introduced. The course concludes with both military and civilian resources that can provide support during and after transition for military personnel and their family members.
    • Military Occupational Code Crosswalk demonstrates how to translate military skills, training and experience into civilian credentialing appropriate for civilian jobs. Service members will document their military career experience and skills, translate their military occupation experience to civilian occupations and skills, and identify any gaps in their training and/or experience that need to be filled to meet their career goals.
    • Financial Planning for Transition builds on the financial training provided during the military life cycle and helps service members understand how transition will impact their financial situation. Subjects include change in income, taxes, healthcare costs, new expenses and other financial matters. Online tools are used to calculate the military-to-civilian income equivalent and to research the cost of living for at least two geographical locations. Throughout the course, service members have the opportunity to develop or update a spending plan.
  4. VA Benefits and Services
    VA Benefits and Services is a one-day interactive briefing that teaches service members about VA benefits and programs based on their needs and where they are in their transition journey. Each module highlights real stories and examples from service members who have already transitioned from military to civilian life. Topics covered include disability benefits and compensation, memorial and burial benefits, education and economic support, housing benefits and health care options, including both physical and emotional health needs.
  5. Department of Labor Employment Fundamentals of Career Transition
    The Department of Labor Employment Fundamentals of Career Transition provides an introduction to the tools and resources service members can use to evaluate career options, gain information for civilian employment, and understand the fundamentals of the employment process.
  6. Service member elected tracks
    The TAP also includes a service member election of two days of instruction. These include the DOL Employment Track, DOL Vocational Track, DoD Education Track and the Small Business Administration Entrepreneurship Track. Transitioning service members must elect at least one track but may attend more than one based on their ITP and post-transition goals.
  7. Capstone
    The Capstone is the culminating event where commanders verify achievement of career readiness standards and a viable ITP. It must happen no later than 90 days before separation or released from active duty.

Make sure you get your VMET

Your service branch is required to verify your military experience and training. Your Verification of Military Experiences and Training form DD 2586 assesses your knowledge, experience and skills as they relate to civilian jobs. The form provides:

  • Military experience and training
  • Recommended college-credit information
  • Civilian-equivalent job titles

Download your VMET from the Defense Manpower Data Center

More transition resources

  • Installation briefings. Installations hold classes and seminars on dressing for success, goal setting, change management, and evaluating and negotiating job offers.
  • Individual assistance. Installation transition assistance offices provides personal help for you and your spouse for up to 180 days after separation or retirement, including one-on-one support, resources, needs assessments and referrals.

Your transition to civilian life is a significant event. Start planning as soon as you know you'll be leaving the military – even if it's a year or more away.