NOTE: MOAA Premium and Life members are eligible for individualized advice on their transition process, including career assistance, financial guidance, and a variety of other resources. Learn more about joining MOAA here.
Servicemembers will need to begin their official transition plan a year before they intend to leave uniform under changes to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) that went into effect Oct. 1.
The new rules are designed to “provide ample time for transitioning servicemembers to begin thinking about their transition and begin planning accordingly,” Tamre H. Newton, director of DoD’s Transition to Veterans Program Office (TVPO), said in a September news release describing the changes.
Earlier guidance, which was updated by language in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, suggested servicemembers should begin the process “as soon as possible” or offered 90-day windows. The new rules mandate a 365-day process, which officially begins with an Individualized Initial Counseling session between the member and a TAP counselor.
[DOWNLOAD: MOAA's Member-Only Transition Publications]
MOAA’s senior director for Career Transition Services, Col. Brian Anderson, USAF (Ret), applauds the new changes for transitioning servicemembers to begin the process as early as possible. He noted that in discussions with a number of separating and retiring officers, along with their military spouses, it’s clear that many require assistance and guidance about how to organize and prepare for career success following their military service.
Being action-oriented they tend to want to jump right in, Anderson said. However, it is critical to conduct a robust self-assessment before launching into the creation of your self-marketing documents. Determining your priorities such as professional impact, location, work/life balance, family needs and desired compensation level will drive you in a certain direction within the civilian industries and sectors.
Once you have a clear vision of what you would like to do, you can start the action steps of expanding your professional network and develop your self-marketing documents, such as a résumé, cover letters, your LinkedIn profile, and depending on your seniority level, a personal biography to support your network development.
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In addition to required briefs from the VA and the Department of Labor (DOL) on transition issues and benefits, servicemembers will be able to choose from four two-day transition courses, according to the news release: DOL Employment Track, DOL Vocational Track, DoD Education Track, and the Small Business Administration Entrepreneurship Track. Members can take more than one course, depending on their transition goals.
As with the previous TAP structure, servicemembers must complete a Capstone event at least 90 days before their separation date. This allows commanders to verify the TAP process.
Military.com outlined other program details in an Oct. 1 post. Servicemembers seeking further details should contact their local transition office, per the news release, as updates to DODTAP.mil to reflect the new guidance are were not complete as of Sept. 29.