There are a number of extensive services and benefits to help make your transition from the military to civilian life a success. If you are an active-duty service member, member of the National Guard or Reserve, or a military spouse or caregiver, you can take advantage of these transition resources.
Transition resources and programs
- The Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program has information, tools and training to prepare you and your family for your military-to-civilian transition.
- Find your nearest Transition Assistance office. Transition Assistance offices are on most military installations in the United States and overseas. Each service branch has its own program:
- Military OneSource also provides the Transitioning Veterans specialty consultation to further assist you in transitioning from the military to civilian life.
- The Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program offers the Military Spouse Transition Program to further assist military spouses and the family in transitioning into civilian life.
In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 into law, which significantly altered the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program for the first time since 2011.
The purpose of TAP remains the same, but the new TAP requirements in FY19 NDAA went into effect Oct. 1, 2019.
The DOD’s TAP is an outcome-based program that bolsters opportunities, services and training for transitioning service members in their preparation to meet post-military goals, and should not be confused with TAPS, an acronym for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
The mandatory components of TAP are applicable for all service members who have at least 180 continuous days or more on active duty; this includes National Guard and Reserve.
- 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.
- 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 of the transition process and post-transition goals.
- Once the individualized IC 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 to include benefits, entitlements and resources for eligible transitioning service members. Caregivers and spouses are especially encouraged to attend pre-separation counseling with their service member.
- The DOD’s Transition Day follows pre-separation counseling and is mandatory for transitioning service members. This portion of TAP includes curriculum modules on building resiliency by managing your own transition, MyTransition, a Military Occupational Code Crosswalk to help define and translate military skills, and the financial plan for transition module, which fulfils the mandated financial literacy requirement.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to provide the VA Benefits and Services brief, formerly known as VA Benefits I and II, on the VA benefits and services available to service members and veterans.
- The Department of Labor will provide a required DOL one-day brief on preparation for employment, which is a change from the current three-day DOL Employment Workshop.
The new changes with TAP also include 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.
The Capstone event, which is the culminating event where commanders verify achievement of career readiness standards and a viable ITP, must happen no later than 90 days before separation or release from active duty. Capstone remains the culminating event for TAP.
While certain changes to department’s TAP are standard across the military departments, each military service may execute the mandatory portions of TAP based on their service culture, as long as they are within the required timeframes.
This may result in a distributive model, where TAP is encouraged to be completed over the course of the 365 days following IC and pre-separation counseling, or in a consecutive model where TAP is completed in a five-day consecutive period, allowing service members to use the knowledge gained upfront to explore additional tracks, extensively network, complete a marketable certification, attend a DOD SkillBridge program or use a mentor to ease their transition.
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
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.
- InTransition. This is a free, confidential program that offers specialized coaching and assistance to service members, veterans and retirees who need access to mental health care during times of transition, such as relocating to another assignment, returning from deployment or preparing to leave the military.
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. Military OneSource can help guide you through the process. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? View calling options.
Receive personalized support for your transition.
Military OneSource assists in easing transition stress with our specialty consultation for transitioning veterans.