The first significant alterations to the Defense Department’s Transition Assistance Program since 2011 took effect with the new fiscal year, mandated by the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
The purpose of DoD’s TAP remains the same, officials said, but the new requirements will reflect a different process of execution.
“It is our hope these changes will provide ample time for transitioning Service members to begin thinking about their transition and begin planning accordingly,” said Tamre H. Newton, director of DoD’s Transition to Veterans Program Office.
TAP is an outcome-based program that bolsters opportunities, services and training for transitioning Service members as they prepare for their post-military goals, and should not be confused with TAPS, an acronym for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, officials noted.
The mandatory components of TAP are applicable for all Service members with at least 180 continuous days or more on active duty; including members of the National Guard and Reserves.
What TAP will look like:
- TAP now starts no later than a year before transition for those who are separating or retiring. Officials recommend that retirees begin the transition process at least two years before retirement. If there’s an unanticipated separation or retirement, or if a member of a reserve component is demobilized with less than 365 days, TAP must begin as soon as possible within the remaining period of service.
- Individualized initial counseling between the Service member and a TAP counselor now officially starts the transition process. During the IC session, Service members complete their personal self-assessment and begin developing their Individual Transition Plan to identify their needs and post-transition goals.
- Once the individualized IC is complete, pre-separation counseling begins, and must start no later than 365 days before transition. Counseling covers by-law information, including benefits; entitlements and resources for eligible transitioning Service members.
- The DoD Transition Day follows pre-separation counseling, and is mandatory for transitioning Service members. This part of TAP includes curriculum modules on building resilience; translating military skills and developing a financial plan.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to provide the VA benefits and services briefing, formerly known as VA Benefits I and II.
- The Labor Department provides a required one-day briefing on preparation for employment, which is a change from the current, three-day employment workshop.
The new changes with TAP also include the Service member electing two days of instruction; including employment, vocational and education tracks; and the Small Business Administration Entrepreneurship Track. Transitioning Service members must elect at least one track.
The capstone event, when commanders verify achievement of career readiness standards and a viable ITP, must happen no later than 90 days before separation or released from active duty.
While certain changes to DoD TAP are standard across military departments, each Service may execute the mandatory parts, based on their service culture, as long as they are within the required timeframes, officials said.
The changes to TAP will not immediately be reflected on the www.DODTAP.mil website. However, officials anticipate that the site will be updated soon. For more information on the updates to TAP, call the Fort Belvoir Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program office at 703-805-9247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.