Soldier For Life Transition Assistance Program
Nearly 200,000 servicemembers leave the military each year. Several of them will say goodbye to the Army and hello to life in the civilian world. But at least one year before making their exit, those same transitioning Soldiers will experience the Army’s version of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) called Soldier For Life.
Empire Resume is a career services company dedicated to serving the military community. In our latest article, we’re sharing the following information about the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program:
- How the Army Transition Assistance Program Started
- What is the Soldier For Life – Transition Assistance Program
- Shortcomings of SFL-TAP: Resume Writing Mistakes
- Soldier for Life Program Eligibility and Timeline, and
- How Empire Resume Helps Soldiers Combat SFL-TAP’s Mishaps
How did the Army Transition Assistance Program Start?
Soldier for Life did not always exist.
For Soldiers leaving the military back in the day, the transition was much different. It went something like this:
When it was time to leave, Soldiers were given their final paycheck.
Then, a counselor would quickly read a script from a piece of paper that explained their options as they walked into civilian life.
As you can see, there wasn’t really any transition assistance available. So, in 1991, the Army decided to create a formal called ACAP (pronounced “A cap”) – the Army Career and Alumni Program. Some Veterans still call the transition program ACAP today. ACAP was developed with a handful of transition courses and briefings to help soldiers be successful in the civilian world after active-duty service. These courses and briefings were optional.
After 20 years of ACAP, on November 21, 2011, President Obama signed the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act. The VOW Act mandated:
- Pre-separation Counseling
- Department of Labor Employment Workshop (DOLEW), and
- Veterans Affairs Briefings I & II
The Department of Defense followed these mandates with Career Readiness Standards (CRS), which included several services and courses required for transitioning Soldiers to complete before leaving active duty.
These additions to ACAP drastically changed the program, and the Army announced the new Soldier for Life initiative. The initiative linked transition with efforts to better the lives of transitioning Soldiers in civilian communities and encourage the mentality that “Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier, Soldier for Life.”
In 2014, ACAP revamped and became the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP). Today, the program includes two days of highly-specialized training in different tracks including the Small Business Administration Entrepreneurship track called Boots to Business.
SFL-TAP’s mission is to prepare Soldiers for transition. It supports the Soldier for Life (SFL) initiative, which helps to bridge the gap between the Army and civilian sector, as well as educate companies on the value of hiring Army Veterans. While the programs have slightly different focuses, they both work closely together for the care of the Soldier.
If you’d like to hear more, check out this video on the history of the transition assistance program.
What is the Soldier For Life – Transition Assistance Program?
As mentioned above, once an Army servicemember becomes a Soldier, he or she is a soldier for life. The Soldier for Life Program engages and connects the U.S. Army with organizations to create economic opportunities after a life of service.
The Soldier for Life -Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) provides transition and employment assistance to active and reserve component Soldiers leaving active duty, as well as qualifying civilians, retired Soldiers, and family members. The SFL-TAP assistance includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Learning about benefits
- Creating and maintaining financial budgets
- Developing job search skills
- Career guidance
- Job search assistance
SFL-TAP teaches resume writing, accessing veterans’ benefits, financial planning, interview skills, networking, and other career skills. The program also helps connect Soldiers to employment opportunities through the Career Skills Program. Successful transition sustains the all-volunteer force and influences future generations to serve in the military.
By law, Soldiers must participate in SFL-TAP after completing at least 180 days of continuous Title 10 active-duty service. Soldiers attending the program can start SFL-TAP 18 months prior to transition or 24 months prior to retirement to maximize benefits and properly prepare for the transition.
Shortcomings of SFL-TAP: Resume Writing Mistakes
TAP is a great program for transitioning service members. It teaches them to use their Army values and translate their skills for the civilian workforce. However, Army TAP misses the mark on the reality Veterans face once they are out of the military.
For instance, one of Soldier for Life’s major challenges when it comes to preparing Veterans for the real world is military to civilian resume writing.
In a 2017 LinkedIn article, the U.S. Army Transition Assistance Program said “no transitioning soldier’s resume is perfect. 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 provide.
The article even goes on to say the reality of resume writing for transitioning Soldiers is that while the Army can send a Soldier to basic training to teach them how to be a Soldier and then they become one, resume writing, and the transition process is much different.
At Empire Resume, we believe every Army Soldier can have the perfect military-to-civilian resume. After many years of serving this country, every Soldier deserves to have the best resume possible. In fact, the perfect resume is needed to even get a Soldier’s boot in the door.
For example, the resume needs to be written in such a way that beats the applicant tracking system, otherwise, it will be rejected. There is a huge possibility that a manager will never have the opportunity to review a transitioning Soldier’s military-to-civilian resume as 75% of resumes are never read by a human.
Why? Allow me to explain. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a resume scanning software that sends, what it believes to be, the most qualified candidates to a recruiter. Think of the ATS as the middleman. The software serves as a gatekeeper to hiring managers. Before a hiring authority even lays eyes on a resume, it must pass the ATS test first.
At TAPs, soldiers learn to stuff keywords, create multiple resumes for each role, and create lengthy resumes. 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.
Take a certified professional resume writer’s advice: One resume is all you need, beware of keyword stuffing, and keep your resume under two pages.
For more information about resume writing, see the following articles by Empire Resume, specifically for the military community:
- 3 Misleading Resume Tips Consistently Presented at TAPs
- 5 rules of writing military resumes
- Resume trends every military member should know before separation
Soldier for Life Program Eligibility and Timeline
If you’re a Soldier reading this, you may be wondering how to start SFL-TAP.
All Soldiers completing 180 days or more of continuous active-duty service are required to meet CRS compliance. Eligible Soldiers can begin receiving transition counseling and employment assistance 18 months prior to transitioning from Active Duty or 24 months prior to retirement.
Active-duty Soldiers and their eligible family members may participate in TAP services up to 365 days following their release from active duty. If retiring, TAP services can be initiated by the Soldier and eligible Family members up to 24 months prior to the retirement date and eligibility remains for life.
The first thing you want to do is register with SFL-TAP and schedule your initial counseling. Using your CAC, create an account
The Army recommends the below step by step process and SFL-TAP timeline to receive maximum benefit from the program:
At 12-18 months:
- Individualized Initial Counseling and Self-Assessment (must be done first)
- Pre-Separation Counseling
At 12-15 months:
- Army Day
- MY Transition
- MOS Crosswalk
- Financial Planning for Transition
At 9-12 months:
- DOL Employment Fundamentals
At 7-9 months:
- VA Benefits & Services with eBenefits Registration
At 4-7 months:
- Continuum of Military Service Counseling (AC Only)
At 4-6 months:
- Career Tracks
- Capstone (must be done last)
To learn more about the Army’s Transition Assistance program guides, curriculum, processes, and regulations, visit the Army TAP resources site.
Empire Resume Helps Soldiers Combat SFL-TAP’s Mishaps
As an Air Force Veteran and career services professional, I’ve seen many resumes from military members transitioning into the civilian working world.
I am always amazed at the number of low-quality resumes that come across my desk from Soldiers and other fellow service members who just completed Transition Assistance Programs.
We’ve helped thousands of Veterans achieve career success and we know we can do the same for you. Here’s how Empire Resume helps Army Soldiers combat TAP’s mishaps:
Stop by and let us honor you with a $25 military discount. We’ll even perform a free resume review to see if your TAP-generated resume is civilian-ready and will help you position yourself as a viable candidate in today’s workforce using the latest and greatest developments in the career industry.
The Empire Resume team works to expertly transform the military experience, skills, and achievements of Soldiers into a compelling military to civilian resume that generates results. We guarantee it.
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and service members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was 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 Ph.D. in Finance.