How School Liaisons Help Students Realize Education Goals and More

School liaison sits behind desk

Parents have many questions about their children’s education, and military life can create even more. If you’re looking for answers to your education questions, your installation school liaison can connect you with the support you need.

The School Liaison Program offers an array of services and resources to support children, parents, installation leadership, schools and the surrounding community. By working together with these stakeholders, the School Liaison Program builds a support network to provide the best possible education experience for military-connected children and youth worldwide.

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Contact your local school liaison for all of your pre-K-12 education needs

School liaisons are located at each installation and are the main contact for military families, local school systems and installation leadership for school-related matters pre-K through 12. School liaisons are experienced professionals who advocate, advise and build partnerships with the civilian and military community to help address common education challenges of military families. School liaison support is free of charge and open to all Department of Defense identification card holders, educators who serve military students and community partners involved with pre-K-12 education.

Student and family support

School liaisons provide a wide variety of services for students and families, including:

  • Transition support – for PCS moves, as well as general education transitions
    • Information on campus specific programs and courses of study, school districts and boundaries
    • Assistance with transferring credits and registering for classes
    • Help with locating after-school and extracurricular programs
    • Tutoring referrals
    • Youth sponsorship referrals
    • Support for transitions to elementary, middle and high school and beyond
  • Alternative schooling support – including information about private, parochial, charter and homeschool options
  • Special education support and referrals – including referral to the Exceptional Family Member Program and other local resources
  • Deployment support – including parental absence coping strategies, educator awareness of deployment cycles, accommodation compliance and non-medical counseling referrals to minimize the negative academic, social and emotional impact.
  • College, career and military readiness:
    • Test preparation and scheduling
    • Scholarship and financial aid information
    • Postsecondary opportunities
    • College, vocational and career fairs
  • Parent workshops on topics such as:
    • Smooth transitions
    • College and career preparation

School liaisons know that transitions are more than just permanent changes of station. Children move to new schools, and they also move within schools. In addition, military children transition from parent(s) being home to being deployed. Rest assured that whatever transition your military child is navigating, school liaisons are available to help improve their academic experience, promote social and life skills, offer vocational guidance and build education partnerships to help them thrive.

Education community support

In addition to working with students and families, school liaisons work with local education community partners and installation leadership to meet military children’s education needs. School liaisons offer information workshops and professional development opportunities. Topics include:

  • The social and emotional effects of military transition
  • Reducing test anxiety in youth
  • Grant resources for school systems (such as Federal Impact Aid and DOD grant opportunities)
  • Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission compliance support
  • Military culture
  • Installation tours

Partners in education

On the program level, school liaisons collaborate with national educational and local community organizations to promote the best education for military children. Some educational partners include:

The partnerships, resources and services that school liaisons develop and coordinate play a key role in creating a collaborative relationship between the military community and school systems worldwide to support the educational needs of military children and families.

School Liaison Program support is open to all DOD ID card holders, educators who service military students and community partners involved with pre-K-12 education. For more information, contact your local installation school liaison office.

More Parenting Resources for Managing at Home During COVID-19

A woman sits with her children on a sofa.

Current as of July 12, 2021


The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a challenge. Many parents are still working from home, children are on modified school schedules, and the continued disruptions and vigilance can be exhausting.

Military OneSource is committed to helping you find the resources you need to stay the course. Take advantage of the expanded hourly child care service. Add some new activities to your toolkit. Try some apps for self-care. And reach out for support if you need it. Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7/365 to help you and your family find the resources you need to meet the current challenges

Expanded hourly child care service

To support the growing needs of military families, the Department of Defense has expanded child care options. Through Military OneSource, military families now have free access to a national database of more than a million caregivers so they can find hourly, flexible and on-demand child care. The nationally recognized subscription service lets you:

  • Search for potential caregivers based on your own needs and criteria
  • Check references, review background checks and conduct interviews
  • Choose, hire and pay providers on your terms

The service is easy to access and available online for your convenience. For more information, and to register, visit the Military OneSource Expanded Hourly Child Care Options web page.

CDC resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide updated advice on a variety of current parenting topics including:

  • Daily Activities and Going Out – includes advice for dining out at restaurants, playing sports, hosting and attending gatherings, and more
  • Travel – offers information on air, train, bus and car travel, links to daily state case numbers and recommendations for destinations around the world
  • COVID-19 Parental Resources Kit – provides specific tips for promoting social, emotional and mental health of children in age groups 0-5, 6-12, 13-17 and 18-24 years

Activities resources

For preschool age children:

For youth and teens:

Resilience resources

Military families know that life challenges can inspire us to be our best selves. This time at home lets us practice stress-management skills and try new tools. The following resources can help build resilience:

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community, visit Defense.gov, follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram platforms, and continue to check the Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

504 Plan Versus IEP Overview

Student working in classroom

School systems use both individualized education programs and 504 plans to meet the individual needs of students with special needs. The two documents have the same goal but take a different approach in helping students learn. One is not better than the other, just more appropriate for the student’s specific learning needs. Both the IEP and the 504 are legally binding documents created to ensure students with special needs receive the proper services or accommodations to reach their education goals.

Learning about the difference between IEP and 504 plans can be confusing for parents unfamiliar with special education laws and what they mean for their child. There are three federal laws that guarantee the rights of students with special needs: the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (special education law) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (civil rights law). Individual states set the guidelines on how they will provide IEP and 504 plan services and supports.

Individualized education program overview

To be eligible for an IEP, a student must meet criteria set by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and have one of 13 specified conditions that are written in the law. However, having one of these conditions isn’t enough to ensure a student is eligible for special education and an IEP. The disability must also have an educational impact that negatively affects the student’s ability to learn. Lastly, it must be determined that the student requires specialized instruction to be academically successful. All three of these criteria 1) qualifying disability, 2) disability impacts learning and 3) student requires specialized instruction to achieve education goals, must be met for the student to be found eligible for special education. If all three of these criteria are met, an IEP will be developed to map out short- and long-term learning goals for the student and where and how these goals will be met.

Quick facts about IEPs

  • The parent or guardian is always an important member of the IEP team.
  • An IEP includes information on a student’s present levels of performance, annual goals, related services, possible changes to placement, accommodations and modifications.
  • Accommodations provide supports to access the curriculum (i.e. sitting at the front of the classroom to hear/see the teacher), where modifications might change the curriculum or the way a student accesses the curriculum.
  • School systems must review IEPs at least annually; parents must be notified in writing about the IEP meeting, the purpose of the meeting and be asked to attend.
  • A triennial review is conducted at least every three years to make sure the student continues to meet the eligibility criteria established by IDEA.
  • The IEP will be reviewed at each new school. It will be implemented as written or revised depending on the IEP, the school’s assessment of the student’s needs, and state/local policy on the IDEA and free and appropriate public education.
  • An IEP typically ends at the completion of high school, although it may go until age 21 if the student receives district services after high school, such as vocational and/or independent living instruction.

IEP review meetings

You have the right to prepare for your IEP meeting by asking for a draft copy of the IEP prior to the meeting. If you can’t get the draft, consider rescheduling until you receive it so you can arrive prepared for the meeting. Other tips to consider for your meeting include:

  • Remember you are the expert on your child and the one constant member of the IEP team from preschool to high school – you are there for the entire journey.
  • Write down your questions and ask for clarification. Involve a friend, EFMP Family Support provider, school liaison, teacher or community agency representative for a second set of eyes on the IEP draft before the meeting.
  • At the meeting, if you aren’t clear on the proposed recommendations, you have the right to ask your questions, disagree and make suggestions. You do not have to sign the IEP if you disagree, your child will still receive special education services while you consider options.

504 plan

If a student has a medical diagnosis or condition that impacts learning but doesn’t qualify for an IEP based on the three criteria, the student may qualify for a 504 plan instead. If the school recommends a 504 plan, ask questions like these for clarification:

  • Why do you believe a 504 plan is a better option for my child?
  • How can a 504 plan help my child in school?
  • How would the proposed 504 accommodations help remove learning barriers for my child?
  • How often can we meet about my child’s plan?
  • Who is on my child’s 504 plan team?

Remember, a 504 plan is a formal plan that schools develop to remove barriers to learning and give students with special needs or impairments the support they need. Typically, the changes or accommodations are made in the general education classroom and don’t require specialized instruction.  Because of this, a 504 plan is not special education and is not part of the IDEA. The 504 plan gets its name from section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and provides associated civil rights protections to the student.

One example of a student who may benefit from a 504 plan could be a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who needs extra time to take a test or complete homework. Perhaps the student also has a need for specific seating – maybe in the front of the class or next to the teacher to be less distracted by other students. These minor accommodations may be just what the student needs to thrive in the classroom.

A good 504 plan:

  • Is personalized for the student’s individual needs
  • Covers all the areas where help is needed
  • Describes specific services that the student needs. For example, the student may need assistive technology for reading – perhaps audiobooks – to hear as well as see what they are reading.

Check in with teachers on a regular basis to see how accommodations are working and if necessary, adjust the plan. You and the school should review and update the plan yearly to make sure it covers your child’s current challenges and eliminates unneeded accommodations.

There is no age limit on the 504 plan – so your child can take it to college or even to the workplace. The 504 plan doesn’t offer related services – like physical or occupational therapy, etc. Instead, the accommodations or supports even the playing field for your child so they can access learning the way their same-age peers do. There are no annual goals in a 504 plan – except the goal to make sure your child has what they need to be successful in the classroom.

Moving with an education plan

Since different school districts provide IEP and 504 plan services in different ways, military families may be concerned about continuity of services between PCS moves. However, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, a voluntary agreement between states and the military, helps to ease relocation issues. The compact calls for the temporary provision of IEP and 504 services comparable to the previous school’s until an IEP is created for the new school.

The Department of Defense State Liaison Office continues to work on the Advance Enrollment Initiative, which is now policy in many states. This initiative gives PCSing students the opportunity to register in a new/anticipated school district and begin coordinating their IEP or 504 plan requirements before they are physically located within the school district.

One of the most important steps military parents can take to pave the way when relocating is to involve their school liaison. School liaisons can also help with any other issues that arise with your child’s education, IEP or 504 plan.

Keep track of contacts, resources and your child’s progress and plan using the Special Care Organizational Record for Children with Special Health or Educational Needs. Visit EFMP & Me and review the education checklist to learn more about IEPs and 504 plans. And don’t hesitate to connect with an EFMP Family Support Provider, school liaison office or call to speak with a Military OneSource consultant at 800-342-9647 to get the information you need.

Navigating Early Intervention Services

Smiling mother and child

Every child grows and learns at their own individual pace, but researchers agree that the first three years of a child’s life are the most critical for learning. If you believe your child might have a developmental delay, providing early intervention services can help them learn and develop to their full potential. As a military family, there are services to help support you.

The Exceptional Family Member Program works with other community and military agencies to make sure you have the EIS support you and your infant or toddler need. Local school districts or health departments often provide these early intervention services.

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Find tips and information on early intervention services and so much more.

EIS programs are called different names in different areas, but are often referred to as Part C because that is the section of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that pertains to early intervention. Find a list of state Part C coordinators and programs by searching for your state in the Military OneSource Early Intervention Directory (Birth to 3).

Identifying the need for services

 Sometimes it’s hard to identify possible delays but reviewing milestone checklists and watching the short course on Childhood Development Milestones and Identifying Delays may be helpful. Consider downloading the CDC’s Milestone Tracker App.

Make a list of your concerns and questions and talk to your child’s pediatrician. Often, physicians will give you a referral for an early intervention evaluation and point you in the right direction. However, you don’t need to have a doctor’s referral to request an evaluation.

Finding services

Services under the early intervention program are available from birth through 36 months of age, in every state, and are typically provided in home and community settings. Your early intervention service coordinator oversees the services delivered by providers while your child is in early intervention.

CONUS families: The EFMP Family Support provider on your installation is a great point of contact to learn more about early intervention services in your location. The Early Intervention Directory (Birth to 3) is also a good resource, because the early intervention process is usually determined by where you live. Choose your state of residence (or where you are moving) to understand where to find services.

  • If your family lives on an installation with a Department of Defense Education Activity school, you must access early intervention screening and services through the Educational and Developmental Intervention Service at the installation military treatment facility.
  • If your installation does not have a DoDEA school, or you live off the installation, you must access Early Intervention Services for your child through local community services.

OCONUS families: Talk to the EFMP Family Support provider at your location to find out how to start the evaluation process or continue/transfer services. Use the Directory of Early Intervention, Special Education and Related Services in OCONUS Communities to find out which communities offer early intervention services and the types of services they provide.

Evaluation for early intervention

To learn more about the evaluation process, contact the or reach out to your state program. Discuss your concerns and request to have your child evaluated for eligibility for early intervention services. The goal of the evaluation, also called initial assessment or eligibility assessment, is to see if your child can use help with life skills such as talking, movement, learning, etc.

Evaluation steps typically include the following:

  • You will have a service coordinator/case manager assigned to answer your questions and oversee the process.
  • You must sign a written consent and agree to testing. You will then work out evaluation details with the service coordinator.
  • Evaluation location will typically be your home or another familiar location.
  • A team of two or more will conduct the evaluation: Developmental specialist, physical therapist, speech therapist, social worker/psychologist – all experienced with young children.
  • Evaluators may ask about child’s medical history. They could observe your child’s interactions with other family members, give standard tests to learn about skills and ask your child to complete play-based tasks.

Eligibility for services

After the evaluation, you’ll meet with the team to review the results and determine eligibility for services. Make sure you get all your questions answered and share if you have concerns or disagree with their findings.

Eligible: The team will write a plan that outlines the services and support your child will receive. Early intervention usually lasts until your child’s third birthday when your child may move to special education services under IDEA if needed.

Not eligible: If your child is not found eligible, and you disagree, you have the right to appeal the decision. You may also choose to research organizations with licensed professionals who can help you develop a plan and work with you and your child to overcome challenges.

Early intervention services

Early intervention focuses on improving skills in the following areas:

  • Physical (reaching, crawling, walking, drawing)
  • Cognitive (thinking, learning, problem solving)
  • Communication skills (talking, listening, understanding)
  • Self-help skills (eating, dressing)
  • Social or emotional skills (playing, interacting with others)

Services might include but are not limited to: Speech and language therapy, physical or occupational therapy, psychological services, hearing or vision services, social work services, transportation, assistive technology. Your service coordinator will support you in explaining the specific services your child needs.

Take advantage of all the resources and services available to you and your family through EFMP. Get started with the Early Intervention Fact Sheet and check out the Office of Special Needs EFMP & Me podcast series for information on enrollment, education, PCS, legal and long-term and financial planning and caregiving. And be sure to visit EFMP & Me, your 24/7 guide to everything EFMP.

Advance Enrollment for Military Children

Teens talking in library

If your child is one of the 185,000 military children changing schools annually due to a permanent change of station move, you may know about bumpy transitions between school systems. The challenge of transferring records, state differences in education and graduation requirements, and enrollment barriers in sports, electives and extracurricular activities, can be daunting. If your child is on an individualized education program, you add another layer of concern.

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The Department of Defense worked with the National Center for Interstate Compacts to establish the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children in 2008, which covers common policies for records transfer, enrollment, placement and graduation requirements. These common policies cover many of the concerns experienced by military families, but still leave families to deal with issues once they have arrived at the new duty station. The Department of Defense State Liaison Office is working with states to make the task of transferring to a new school easier by giving military parents a temporary waiver to residence requirement. This will enable them to pre-enroll their children in a school district before they arrive at the PCS destination. The initiative, called “Advance Enrollment,” is now policy in 24 states.

Advance enrollment initiative

Advance enrollment lets your military child register in their new school district at the same time as the general student population, which is generally at the end of the previous school year. Military children moving to a participating state will no longer have to prove physical residence within the school district boundaries before they enroll.

Benefits of advance enrollment for your military child include:

  • The opportunity to participate in random lotteries for charter or magnet schools
  • The chance to enroll in specialized academic programs
  • The opportunity to begin coordinating IEP and 504-plan requirements
  • The ability to register for courses and plan their course of study
  • The comfort of knowing which school they will attend before arriving at the new location

Additional details and supporting states

You must provide the following information to take advantage of advance enrollment:

  • Documentation of a pending military relocation to the state
  • Proof of residency provided to the school district within the required number of days after arrival in the new location

Not every state has approved this policy. States who have passed the policy include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Get more information

Bookmark Temporary Waiver of Residence Requirement for School Enrollment to stay up to date on this policy. If you have questions or need any information regarding your child with special needs, contact your installation EFMP Family Support Staff or an EFMP Resources, Options and Consultations special needs specialty consultant through Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or by live chat.

Helping Your Children Change Schools

Young student wearing mask in class

Frequent moves to new duty stations is a fact of military life, and your child will be asked to respond to the routines and demands of military life as well. Being prepared to help your school-age children change schools can go a long way to helping them adjust to their new environment in healthy ways. Parent preparation can mean a smooth school move for your children from one school system to the next.

When making moves within the continental United States, the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children addresses educational transition issues of military families. Adopted by all states and the District of Columbia, the Interstate Compact replaces varying individual state education policies that affect transitioning military dependent children and supports uniform treatment for these students as they transfer between school districts and states. The Interstate Compact covers all schools, including Department of Defense Education Activity, or DODEA, schools.

Your school liaison can assist with your child’s school transition.

School liaisons are your primary point of contact for all school-related matters, especially a school transition. The school liaison at your current installation can connect you to your new installation school liaison who will help smooth the transition to your child’s new school. Let your school liaison help you and your family navigate school selection and youth sponsorship during this time of change.

The Interstate Compact addresses educational transition issues of military families such as eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation, making it easier for military children to enroll in needed classes, play sports and graduate on time. Here are some of the ways states are helping you make a smooth move for your children.

Immediate enrollment

When leaving your school district, you can get unofficial records to carry to your new school. Your student will be able to enroll without delay, even before the official transcript arrives. If your child needs additional immunizations, you can enroll and take care of these requirements within 30 days.

Placement and attendance support

Your children will be placed in appropriate required classes, advanced placement and special-needs programs while awaiting evaluation at their new school. That means your child won’t be put in a “holding class” while your new school is taking the time to assess him or her. The Interstate Compact also enables a student to miss school for military-related reasons or to request excused absences before, during or after a deployment.

Special education services

If your student is covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, federal law protects your child’s right to receive the same services identified in his or her existing individual education program, or IEP. The receiving school may perform subsequent evaluations to ensure appropriate placement.

Extracurricular participation

If your child is eligible, the new school will facilitate participation in extracurricular activities even if application deadlines or tryouts have passed.

Graduation

Rest assured that your high schooler’s graduation will not be affected. Here are some examples of how the Interstate Compact assists with checking off graduation requirements:

  • Course waivers: If your child has already completed similar coursework, the new school shall waive courses required for graduation.
  • Exit exams: The new school district shall accept your child’s exit exams and achievement tests required to graduate from his or her previous school.
  • Senior-year transfers: If your student changes school during his or her senior year, the two school districts will work together to get a diploma from the former school to ensure on-time graduation.

School liaisons

School liaisons are located at every installation and are especially helpful in dealing with your school transition issues. This local resource has well-established relationships with school administrators, district officials and state departments of education and can help with your transition needs. School liaisons are available for all Department of Defense identification card holders, educators who service military students and community partners within the pre-K-12 education realm. School liaisons understand the military experience and are here to help with your child’s move to a new school. Contact the school liaison at your current or acquiring installation for help with:

  • Transition support, including school districts and boundaries
  • Alternative school options and programs, including private, parochial, charter and home school
  • School and community information nearby
  • Special education
  • Deployment support
  • Compliance with the Interstate Compact
  • Youth programs inside and outside of school
  • Scholarship and grant resources
  • College, career and military readiness

You can also call Military OneSource to connect to an education consultant for help with everything from tutors to tuition. Don’t wait until the move occurs. Call 800-342-9647 or set up a live chat today. OCONUS/international? View calling options.

 

For Service Members – Resources

You’ll find there are numerous programs, resources and services available to help you pursue education and find employment – both governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations. Here are some of the major resources.

Education resources and tools for service members

Voluntary Education Program: The Department of Defense off-duty Voluntary Education Program is one of the largest continuing education programs in the world, with 350 installation education centers worldwide.

Postsecondary Education Complaint System: If you or your family member receive tuition assistance or are a My Career Advancement Account Scholarship recipient, you are encouraged to submit your feedback through this system.

College Navigator: This tool from the National Center for Education Statistics can help you choose the right school with information about more than 7,000 institutions. Compare tuition, financial aid statistics, credit transfer and more.

TA DECIDE: Make informed decisions about your education. Compare schools, tuition and fees, programs, assistance available and more with the TA DECIDE tool from the Department of Defense.

Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, or DANTES: Use this online resource to pursue your educational goals and earn degrees or certifications. DANTES helps you plan examinations, find educational institutions and connects you with education counselors.

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium: This network of more than 1,900 universities and colleges provides opportunities for service members, veterans and family members. Explore member institutions, campus programs, scholarships and more.

Department of Veterans Affairs education resources: The VA website connects you to information about education, the GI Bill® and job training programs for service members and veterans. Learn more at explore.va.gov.

Student Aid on the Web: This U.S. government website provides information and resources for college students and their families to help them choose the right college, apply for financial aid and repay student loans.

The Department of Education website provides information for students, parents, teachers and administrators, including links related to student aid, grants and scholarships.

GI Bill® Comparison Tool helps you compare VA-approved institutions and review other information to choose the right school. It’s also helpful for applying GI Bill benefits to an on-the-job training program.

Career Path DECIDE: Service members and veterans can use this online tool to find best-fit careers based on their military occupation, education level and prior experience, as well as the required credentials or degrees.

Military OneSource provides education consultants who can assist you with questions about financial aid, scholarships, tutoring and college information. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? View calling options. Find:

  • Contact information for military-friendly schools and institutions that allow you to transfer previous college credits
  • Getting your credentials converted and diplomas translated to meet state- or country-specific requirements
  • Profiles on specific colleges and their credentials

Employment resources and tools for service members

Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program: The place to start for employment planning and career readiness. The website connects you to your service branch, as well as resources and tools.

Find your nearest Transition Assistance Program. Transition Assistance offices are on most military installations in the United States and overseas. Each service branch has its own program:

The Department of Veterans Affairs: The VA offers numerous employment resources to help veterans find civilian jobs. Resources include career exploration and counseling, support, connections to job fairs, job searches, vocational and employment counseling and job-seeking tools.

Find a Job: The VA and the Department of Labor have teamed up to offer numerous online resources for veterans and military spouses seeking employment. Get tools, one-on-one assistance, training and more.

Veterans.gov: Explore job opportunities in industries, including agriculture, energy, homeland security and others. Look for jobs by state and region.

The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service: The VETS website from the Department of Labor has comprehensive career and employment assistance for veterans and their families.

Apprenticeship USA from the Department of Labor helps service members and veterans find high-skill, well-paying jobs in Registered Apprenticeship.

Feds Hire Vets: The federal government-wide employment website provides federal employment information for veterans, transitioning service members, their families and federal hiring officials.

CareerOneStop: This Department of Labor website can connect you with programs, including Veterans ReEmployment or My Next Move for Veterans. Also, explore careers, find benefits information and locate your nearest American Job Center.

USAJOBS: The federal government’s employment-related website provides helpful links for veterans seeking federal jobs. As the largest federal employer of veterans, the Department of Defense also offers help with connecting veterans with a Department of Defense civil service job.

The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program provides assistive technology and accommodations to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured service members throughout the federal government in accessing information and communication technology, which can help you with your job search.

Military OneSource: Explore our Employment section for valuable tips about job hunting, career exploration and programs. To learn more about specific benefits, visit our Education and Employment Benefits page.

Additional resources for service members

Searching for a job can be stressful, explore these additional resources to help support you mentally during the process.

InTransition provides free, confidential coaching and assistance to service members, veterans and retirees who may need access to mental health care during times of transition, such as preparing to leave military service.

Moving Forward is a free online educational and life-coaching program that teaches problem-solving skills to help you better handle life’s challenges. It is designed to be especially helpful for veterans, service members and their families.

 

Military Family Readiness System

woman chatting with service member

The Military Family Readiness System is a system of programs and services operated by the Department of Defense and other federal, state, and community-based agencies and organizations. The Military Family Readiness System enhances military family readiness and resilience and promotes military family well-being. Collaboration and integration across the system promotes positive outcomes for service members and their families across the domains of career, social, financial, health and community engagement.

The Military Family Readiness System supports every service member and family member, regardless of activation status or location, in person, by phone and online.

What services are available through the Military Family Readiness System?

The following services are available through the Military and Family Support Centers.

  • Mobility and deployment assistance — Services are designed to promote positive adjustment to deployment, family separation, reunion and reintegration.
  • Relocation assistance — Information, education and referrals can help prepare service members and their families for a permanent change of station move, including moving costs, housing options, spouse employment opportunities, schools, community orientation, settling in at their new duty location and much more.
  • Financial readiness — Life cycle financial education and counseling services provide tools and information to help you achieve financial goals and address financial challenges. Topics include consumer education, budgeting and debt liquidation, retirement planning, savings and investment counseling.
  • Spouse education and career services — Services include career exploration opportunities, education and training, employment readiness assistance and employment connections.
  • Personal and family life education — Education and enrichment services focus on increasing resilience, building and maintaining healthy relationships, and strengthening interpersonal and problem-solving skills.
  • Emergency family assistance — Services can promote short- and long-term recovery and the return to a stable environment after an emergency.
  • Domestic abuse prevention and response services — Education, support services and treatment can help promote healthy and safe intimate relationships, reduce the occurrence of domestic abuse and address domestic abuse when it occurs.
  • Child abuse prevention and response services — Services can help promote positive parent-child relationships, prevent child abuse and address abuse when it occurs.
  • New Parent Support Program — Home visitation services are designed to help new parents adapt to parenthood, through education, playgroups, classes and access to books, booklets and other written materials on parenting.
  • Exceptional Family Member Program support — For families who have special medical and/or educational needs related to the Exceptional Family Member Program enrollment and/or assignment coordination process, non-clinical case management and relocation support.
  • Non-medical individual and family counseling — Short-term, confidential non-medical counseling services address topics related to personal growth and positive functioning.
  • Transition assistance — Services can prepare separating service members and their families to re-enter civilian life.
  • Information and referral — Provides a full range of support services, information, tools and resources available within the Military Family Readiness System to meet identified needs.
  • MWR — Provides other resources within the military that contribute to the readiness and resilience of the force. MWR’s quality of life programming gives service members and families the opportunity to relax, recharge and have fun during their downtime.

How do I access services?

You can visit, call or log on to one of the Military Family Readiness System access points listed below. Regardless of your service branch or geographic location, you will have access to helpful support and resources. Military Family Readiness System access points include:

Installation-based Military and Family Support Centers

Installation-based Military and Family Support Centers are a one-stop shop for family readiness information and services. Centers are open to all service members and their families, regardless of the service member’s branch. Find your local installation’s center by visiting MilitaryINSTALLATIONS or the links below. Each branch of service uses a service-unique name for this access point:

Reserve Component Family Programs

Reserve Component Family Programs deliver family readiness services through facility-based locations, online and by telephone. While these access points deliver a limited number of direct services to members and their families, they can readily refer you to other Military Family Readiness System resources. Find your Reserve Component Family Program by visiting the links below:

Community organizations

Non-military community organizations that support military families are also considered a part of the Military Family Readiness System, as they play a key role in providing the services you need for everyday life. Your local access points, Military and Family Support Center, National Guard and Reserve Component Family Program and Military OneSource, can also connect you to other approved providers, offering services in your local community.

Preparing Young Adults for Their First Job – Strategies for Being a Good Employee

Newly hired employee gets training

Once your young adult has landed a job, there are several strategies to use to be a good, reliable employee. Learning how to support the company’s short- and long-term goals while at the same time growing and developing one’s own skills is important to both job success and career satisfaction. Put these tools and practices to work in order to make the employment experience a good one.

Be a reliable employee

There are many ways to put your best foot forward as a new employee, but these employee fundamentals are sure to help your young adult be successful:

  • Be on time. Allow plenty of time to get out the door. It’s better to be early than late, so allocate wiggle room for flat tires or unexpected road construction or traffic. Get in the practice of bringing a book to read during any extra time before the shift begins.
  • Be professional. While it’s fine to be friendly and upbeat, be sure to stay focused on roles and responsibilities. Always speak to co-workers, customers and managers with respect. Before leaving for the day, ask if there are any important tasks that need to be done.
  • Learn how to do your job well. Understand what is asked. Be clear on expectations and understand due dates and deliverables.
  • Work hard. Be fully present. Leave the phone and social media for after work hours.

Learn how to balance work with school responsibilities

Students who juggle work in addition to school obligations have to work harder to strike a balance between commitments. It’s important to set priorities and put healthy practices into place. Employ these practices to maintain a work-school-life balance:

  • Be clear about your availability. When possible, be up front about your work availability prior to beginning your job. If additional or unexpected school or personal commitments are going to impact your work availability, have the conversation with your manager or scheduler as soon as possible.
  • Manage your time. Plan your daily and weekly schedules and prioritize your work. Be honest about time snatchers – scrolling through social media feeds, binging TV shows, playing video games or splitting your focus by multitasking – and consider how you can put that time to better use. Reward yourself for using that recovered time in more productive ways.
  • Avoid schedule overload and the stress associated with over commitment. Be clear what you can handle and make sure your employer understands that as well.
  • Get adequate sleep. Your work and school performance will suffer if you don’t give your body – and your brain – proper rest and recovery.

Ask for help

It’s hard to ask for help. We want to give the impression that we are self-reliant and fear that we will appear incompetent or unknowledgeable. But a reluctance to ask for help at work is limiting or even destructive to careers and personal well-being. Understanding that we can be more effective and efficient if we ask for input or help from a more experienced employee early on is a great way to avoid larger problems down the road. Here are four times when you should absolutely ask for help:

  • You don’t know what you’re doing. Even the most experienced employees face instances when they are unclear as to what is being asked. It’s OK to ask.
  • You have too much on your plate. Assignments and tasks are projected to take a certain amount of time. Sometimes those time estimations are wrong or other needs come up that are more important. Explain the situation to your manager. Ask for more time and ask for help prioritizing your tasks. Or ask a co-worker to help. Be specific about what you need and what the deadline is.
  • You made a mistake. Own the mistake and let someone know. The goal is to understand what went wrong and how to avoid the same mistake in the future.
  • You need help from a more experienced co-worker. If you don’t know your company’s processes or systems, you’ll need to ask someone who does.

Ask for additional responsibilities or training opportunities at work

Whether you’re hoping for a raise or just wanting to add to the breadth and depth of your skills, asking for additional responsibility can be complicated. Here are a few ways to pick up additional skills and responsibilities:

  • Ask your manager. Before you ask for more things to be added to your workload, make sure you have a handle on your current responsibilities. Help your manager understand the positive impact on the business or department if you acquire additional skills or take on new tasks.
  • Be proactive. Do you see a problem that needs solving? Is something falling through the cracks? If so, let your department know that you could help with those tasks.
  • Offer to help a co-worker. If you see a busy colleague who is juggling too many assignments, offer to assist.

Be open to job performance feedback

Receiving feedback is difficult for everyone. Our brains are wired to protect us, and neuroscientists have determined that criticism is perceived by the brain as a threat to survival. People who effectively process feedback and put it to use to improve their skills and performance have learned to work around this hardwiring of self-protection. Here are some ways to be resilient about performance feedback:

  • Don’t shut down. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice when someone is offering constructive feedback. Whether suggestions are coming from a supervisor or co-worker, be physically and emotionally open to the person’s thoughts and recommendations.
  • Listen.  Let it sink in. Ask how it impacts your team. Some types of feedback can be hard to process in the moment. Take time to consider the feedback and revisit the conversation with your supervisor. Ask how you can do better.

Performance feedback is about skill and execution of a task, not about you as a person. Good managers develop those who work for them. Feedback, given openly and constructively, is a gift for your development. If you have regular conversations with your manager, ask for feedback on a regular basis. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Do you have one or two suggestions for how I can improve my work?
  • How could I handle my projects more effectively?
  • Is there anything I can do to make your job easier?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improving how I prioritize or complete my tasks?

Be willing to address issues at work

Even the best work environments have misunderstandings, projects that miss the target or interactions that don’t go as planned. Keep these three things in mind when addressing issues at work:

  • Assume positive intent. Most misunderstandings are just that – a misinterpretation of facts or the situation. Before addressing the issue, go into the discussion assuming the person had good intentions.
  • Talk directly to the person involved. While you can seek advice from a manager or mentor for how to handle a situation, it is always better to deal directly with the person involved to gain an understanding for how you arrived at a place of misunderstanding or frustration.
  • Consult a manager or mentor if the situation remains unresolved. Ask for advice on how to proceed constructively to resolve the issue.

Your military community makes it easier for you to help your young adult prepare to be a strong employee. Reach out to Military OneSource with questions or for additional assistance. Call 800-342-9647 or set up a live chat today. OCONUS/international? Viewr calling options.