Military Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

Military Transition Assistance Program

Every military member making an exit – either separating or retiring — from their respective military branch must participate in the Military Transition Assistance Program (TAP). TAP’s mission is to provide information and training to ensure that every veteran is successful in life outside of the military upon their exit, whether the goal is to make a career change, pursue educational opportunities or start a business.

This article will discuss the Military Transition Assistance Program (TAP), the shortcomings and mishaps surrounding the program, and how Empire Resume works to help military veterans overcome them.

What is the Military Training Assistance Program (TAP)?

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) was developed in 1990 by U.S. Congress to assist those separating and transitioning from military to civilian life.

The program is a collaboration between several governmental departments — Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Labor (DOL), Veterans Affairs (VA), Homeland Security (DHS), Education (ED), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

TAP can be found at every military base, post, or installation under the respective transition program names:

Changes to the Training Assistance Program (TAP) as of October 1, 2019

TAP has undergone several changes over the years. The first major change to the transition assistance program since 2011 just went into effect on October 1, 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The program’s purpose is the same as it was in 2011, but with a different process for program implementation to allow for adequate transitioning time and planning. Some of the changes to TAP include the following:

  • TAP now begins no later than 1 year or 365 days prior to transition for those separating. Before this change, TAP began 180 days before transitioning.
  • The initial counseling (IC) is now the official start to the transition process.
  • After initial counseling, pre-separation counseling begins.
  • After pre-separation counseling, there’s a mandatory DoD Transition Day.
  • Then, the VA benefits and services briefing takes place. This is formerly known as VA Benefits I and II.
  • After VA benefits, the Department of Labor (DOL) will provide a one-day briefing on employment preparation. This is a change from the previous three-day employment workshop by the DOL.

The changes also include the ability for the service member to elect 2 days of specialized instruction paths including:

  • DOL Employment Track
  • DOL Vocational Track
  • DoD Education Track
  • Small Business Administration Entrepreneurship Track

The DoD states that service members must elect to participate in at least one of these two-day specialized military transition tracks, but can attend more than one based on their transitional goals.

Finally, the Capstone will continue to be the concluding event for the Transition Assistance Program. The Capstone must take place no later than 90 days before separation or release from active duty.

Remember, the program begins one year or 365 days prior to transitioning out of the military. According to the DoD, officials recommend that retirees should begin transitioning at least two years before retiring.

In case of an unexpected separation or retirement, or if a member of a reserve component is demobilized with less than 365 days remaining, TAP should begin as soon as possible.

Next, we will explain the steps of the Military Transition Assistance Program in detail.

The Military Transition Assistance Program Steps

Military Transition Assistance Program

Below are the key steps that service members will take during the Transition Assistance Program:

  1. Individualized Initial Counseling (IC). The initial counseling is the official start to the program. Counseling includes a session with a TAP counselor where a service member completes a personal self-assessment and begins creating a transition plan.

This step lays the foundation for identifying the service member’s needs during the transition process and revealing their post-military goals.

  1. Pre-Separation Counseling. Pre-Separation Counseling is where the service member is provided information, to include legalities on benefits, entitlements and resources after separation from the military.

Additionally, military spouses are always encouraged to attend pre-separation counseling.

  1. DoD Transition Day and VA Briefing. This is an 8-hour day of class where service members get resilience training and learn to shift their focus from the military to the civilian world.

Here, they are given the opportunity to manage their transition, learn how to translate their military experience to civilian terms, and obtain training in financial literacy.

The VA Briefing gives an overview of the benefits and services available to service members after separating from the military. This briefing includes information on applying for VA benefits through the VA system and how to use them.

  1. DOL Briefing. The Department of Labor Briefing is a one-day briefing on preparing for career opportunities for veteran job finders.

The DOL Briefing includes how to write a resume, provides information on job fairs and other job specific resources.

  1. Highly Specialized Military Transition Tracks. These pathways offer two-day trainings to help service members with their individual goals.

These military tracks were added to TAP to cater to the unique needs of the service member as every service member’s post-military journey will be different.

  1. The Capstone Event. The Capstone is the finale where service members place check marks on the military to civilian transition list and certify that they’ve met all the career readiness standards and have a viable transition plan.

 DoD states that commanders will verify achievement of the career readiness standards during this process.

Shortcomings and Mishaps Surrounding TAP

TAP is a great program for transitioning service members, but it misses the mark on the reality that veterans face once they are out of the military.

For instance, some of TAP’s shortcomings when it comes to preparing veterans for the real world include:

  • Helping a service member write a marketable military to civilian resume
  • Writing a LinkedIn profile
  • Preparing veteran job finders for the job search
  • Teaching interviewing skills

TAP’s mishaps have been a hot topic of discussion. In 2015, the American Legion conducted a review of the transition assistance program and highlighted the need for improving contracts with TAP facilitators and counselors due to the limiting scope of performance measures that do not include incentives for them to perform at their highest level and provide service members with the best support.

Then, in 2017 the Soldier for Life Program wrote a LinkedIn article entitled no transitioning soldier’s resume is perfect (and how to get the job anyway). This article revealed how the Army should not expect a soldier to effectively transition into the civilian world by offering fill-in-the-blank resume templates that many of the TAP counselors and facilitators, online resume template builders, and online resume marketplaces attempt to provide.

These shortcomings create constant confusion, a lack of confidence, and leaves transitioning service members unsure of how to present themselves in the civilian world and make themselves marketable employment candidates.

How We Help Veterans Overcome TAP’s Shortcomings

Military Transition Assistance Program

As a former Air Force Captain, my experience with TAP was easily forgettable and provided little to no benefit to help me with my job search.

Today, as a career services entrepreneur who sees many resumes coming from military personnel transitioning into the civilian world, I am constantly amazed at how many low-quality resumes come across my desk from service members who just completed transition assistance programs.

Empire Resume Gets Results for Veterans

Here’s how Empire Resume helps those service members and veterans overcome TAP’s shortcomings:

Our team works to expertly transform the military experience, skills, and achievements of veterans into a compelling military to civilian resume that generates results.

We answer a primary question of military veterans when they begin the resume writing process, “What information to include from my performance evaluations into my civilian resume?

When it comes to including your achievements, skills and military experience, we help veterans achieve success by removing military jargon and acronyms to help make their experiences easily understandable and identifiable by civilians. Additionally, we help veterans:

  • Stand out from the competition
  • Prepare for a civilian job interview
  • Showcase their achievements in the best light
  • Increase their chances of landing an interview

We can even help veterans create a veteran LinkedIn profile so they can continue to get noticed by civilian hiring managers and recruiters 24 hours, 7 days a week and even while they’re sleeping.

How We Can Help You

When you find yourself transitioning out of the military or making a career change after a few years post-transition and you’re struggling to remember how to write a resume because what you learned in TAP is not quite working for you, reach out to Empire Resume or review our military to civilian blog for more help and resources.

Once you’re ready, allow us to perform a free resume review to see if your resume is civilian ready and help you successfully position yourself as a viable candidate in today’s civilian employment market. I’ve personally made the transition into the civilian workforce and have helped others do the same.

Our military to civilian resume writing services helps thousands of veterans get the job they deserve and we know we can do the same. We invite you to call or email us anytime with any questions you may have. We’re always here to help.  

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

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