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Separation & Transition – Resources
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 Defense Department 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 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, former President Donald Trump signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 into law, which significantly altered TAP 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, or TSMs, 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 the 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.
- The TAP process begins with an individualized Initial Counseling between you and a TAP counselor. During the IC session, you will complete a personal self-assessment and begin the development of your Individual Transition Plan to identify your needs and post-transition goals.
- Once the individualized IC is complete, you will attend the Pre-Separation Counseling Brief. Similar to the IC, attendance for this brief must occur no later than 365 days prior to transition. Pre-separation counseling covers bylaw information to include benefits, entitlements and resources for eligible TSMs. Caregivers and spouses are especially encouraged to attend pre-separation counseling due to the numerous benefits and resources provided.
- After the Pre-Separation Counseling Brief, you will attend courses from the TAP curriculum. Mandatory courses include:
- DOD Transition Day: This portion of TAP includes three modules. The first is Managing Your Transition, which builds on previous resiliency knowledge and other topics to encourage you to manage your own transition. Military Occupational Code Crosswalk helps you define and translate your military skills, and the Financial Planning for Transition module provides an understanding of the financial changes which may occur during and after transition.
- VA: The Department of Veterans Affairs provides the VA Benefits and Services brief detailing the benefits and services available to you, while still on active duty and as a veteran.
- DOL One-Day: The Department of Labor conducts a one-day brief, Employment Fundamentals for Career Transition, which provides high-level employment preparation.
The new changes with TAP also include the selection of a two-day track with specifically focused topic areas of instruction. Focus areas include:
- DOL Employment Track: Employment Workshop
- DOL Vocational Track: Career and Credential Exploration
- DOD Education Track: Managing Your Education
- Small Business Administration Entrepreneurship Track: Boots to Business
As a TSM, you must select at least one track but are encouraged to attend more based on your 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 occur no later than 90 days before separation or release from active duty.
You are encouraged to take TAP early in your transition timeframe. This allows you to use the knowledge gained in TAP about available benefits and resources to explore additional tracks, network, complete a marketable certification, attend a department SkillBridge program or utilize a mentor to ease your transition.
Make sure you get your Verification of Military Experiences and Training form
Your service branch is required to verify your military experience and training through the Verification of Military Experiences and Training DD Form 2586. Your VMET is a useful tool that provides:
- Primary occupation and dates
- Occupations description
- Civilian-equivalent job titles
- Military training information, including course names, length and description
Download your VMET from the Defense Manpower Data Center.
More transition resources
- Installation briefings. Installations hold classes and seminars on a variety of topics related to transition, such as dressing for success, goal setting, change management, and evaluating and negotiating job offers.
- Individual assistance. Installation Transition Assistance offices provide individual assistance 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. Military OneSource can help guide you through the process. Call 800-342-9647, view international calling options or schedule a live chat.
Receive personalized support for your transition.
Military OneSource assists in easing transition stress with our specialty consultation for transitioning veterans.