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Transitioning Our Service Members

Under President Obama’s new program, Transition GPS, our military will no longer feel as if they are in a one-size-fits-all program

In August 2011, President Obama visited the Washington Navy Yard to discuss his plans to ensure that all of America’s veterans have the support they need and deserve when they leave the military, look for a job, go to school, and enter the civilian workforce. Our service members receive training of the highest quality to ensure they have the skills necessary to protect our country, yet service members who are preparing to leave the military lack access to expansive, personalized training and counseling necessary for success in the civilian sector. That is why, as part of his August address, the President directed the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to lead a task force to develop a career-ready military and design a “reverse boot camp” for separating service members.

On July 23, 2012, President Obama addressed the VFW in Reno, Nevada and announced the first major re-design of the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) since the program’s inception over 20 years ago. Previously, TAP was a voluntary, one-size fits all program. Many service members complained of that the workshops were “death by PowerPoint” and did not provide the interactive education and training required to be prepared to join civilian life. Under the President’s new transition program, Transition GPS, our military will no longer feel as if they are in a one-size-fits-all program. 

Transition GPS will expand the length of the transition program from three days to five to seven days and will integrate career and education counseling and training across the military life cycle. At the beginning of the program, each service members will complete individual pre-separation counseling and develop a personalized Individual Transition Plan which will provide him or her with a roadmap for a successful transition. They will then attend a five day core curriculum that will provide counseling in budget planning, veterans benefits, and military skills translation. Service members will also have the option to participate in individually-tailored two-day training programs to equip them with the set of tools they need to successfully pursue their post-military goals such as attending college, earning a professional license, or starting a small business. Once the service member’s transition training and counseling is complete, they will attend a CAPSTONE event which will verify their completion of the program’s Career Readiness Standards such as a civilian resume, a family budget, and a completed school application and provide a “warm hand off” to local, state, and federal agencies that can help them achieve career goals once they become veterans.

Here’s an example of how this will work:

A first-term infantry Marine with two combat deployments wants to use his Post 9-11 GI Bill to pursue a business degree at his state university. Nine months from his separation date, he attends Transition GPS and chooses complete the optional Education track. By the end of the course he has completed the required Career Readiness Standards associated with the Education track, which include a college application. Within 90 days of separation, he attends the CAPSTONE event where he meets with advisors.

Knowing that our service members can’t wait to receive the training and counseling necessary to successfully transition to the civilian sector, the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force has begun pilots of the new Transition GPS program at seven military installations this summer, and will fully implement the program across the entire military by the end of 2013.

As the President said in his remarks at the VFW, “Four years ago, I said I’d do everything I could to help our veterans realize the American Dream; to enlist you in building a stronger America…And with a million more troops rejoining civilian life in the years ahead—and looking for work—we’ve stepped up our game, at every stage of their careers.”  Transition GPS is just one of many steps the President has taken to ensure that our service members and veterans have the tools they need to succeed in the civilian workforce and in school.