Transition Assistance Program prepares service members for life after military

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Chad Gorecki)

The Transition Assistance Program helps service members overcome some of the challenges they will face and gives them the tools to find and land a civilian job. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Chad Gorecki)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.-- Transitioning from military life to civilian status can be a daunting process for many people, but, with the help of Scott’s Airman and Family Readiness Center, it can be a smooth one with the help of the Transition Assistance Program.

“I came into the military when I was 18 years old; this is my first job,” said TAP attendee Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Roane, Air Mobility Command Director of Logistics. “A lot has changed over the past 27 years. TAP helps a person like me catch up with the times of what is on the outside and how things have changed.”

Ricardo Tibbs, AFRC assistant TAP manager, explained that TAP helps service members overcome some of the challenges they will face and gives them the tools to find—and land—a civilian job.  TAP offers pre-separation counseling, networking, resume building, and mock interviews.

“Mock interviews work really well because we actually bring in employers from the St. Louis area to sit down and go through the interview process with them,” said Tibbs.

Roane agreed, and added, “The mock interviews are extremely interesting. This is where you find out where your knowledge gaps are.”

Other key components of the program include a three-day Department of Labor workshop and a Veterans Affairs benefits briefing. TAP ends with a capstone during which the member shows that all of the mandates of the program have been met.

The AFRC has TAP twice a month and sees about 500 service members from all branches throughout the year.

Monica Stouffer, AFRC flight chief, said they also offer one-on-one services to members who have special circumstances. These can include things like medical and administrative discharges and wounded warriors.

“We want to make sure we are able to meet their needs in a way that makes the most sense for them and their family,” said Stouffer. The program should be completed 90 days before the end of service, but the AFRC can work with individuals on the timing and some Airmen have even repeated the class if needed.

The program became mandatory because of the unemployment rate among veterans and in 2012 several changes were made to the program to better prepare service members for their civilian career. The redesigned TAP includes an outcome-based curriculum known as Transition GPS (Goals, Plans, Success) designed to provide service members with the skills-building training, services, resources and tools they need to meet the Career Readiness Standards. Class members demonstrate achievement of these standards through a verification process called Capstone. This process includes an opportunity to connect service members with remaining needs with agency partners who provide them with additional support.

Tibbs said that being able to see members go out and find their dream jobs and come back as happy civilians makes being a part of TAP rewarding, and Roane was happy to be on the other end of that process.  

“It’s an outstanding opportunity for our Airmen,” said Roane. “I would say to every Airman to take TAP as early as you can, and I guarantee you will be prepared to transition into the civilian sector. Our AFRC does an outstanding job in preparing us, and I want to give them kudos for the work they are doing.”

The AFRC can be contacted at 618-256-8668, aafrc@us.af.mil, or visit www.scottafrc.com for more information.