Changes in TAP are helping Airmen adjust to civilian life
Soon-to-be retired service members attend the final day of the newly-revised Transition Goals Plans Success, or Transition GPS class held at the Maxwell Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center on January 11. The program, which was revised for the first time in more than 20 years, focuses on translating military training and experience into civilian knowledge, skills and abilities, financial planning, and includes a VA benefits briefing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz)
by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz
Air University Public Affairs
1/25/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- According to military.com, about 15 percent, or 180,000, of service members choose to retire or separate from the military each year. With the current national unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, some veterans might find it difficult to land a civilian job.
To help service members ease their way back into the civilian world, the Department of Defense started the Transition Assistance Program and Executive TAP, or ETAP, for most E-9s and O-6s.
In July 2012, the White House issued a mandate to revamp the 20-year-old TAP program, offering extended, standardized and expanded counseling for those leaving the military.
The new TAP class, now called Transition Goals Plans Success, or Transition GPS, also was extended from three to five days to give participants more time to write resumes and submit them to job search engines or to start the process of receiving their GI Bill benefits.
"I actually completed the TAP class here twice," said Master Sgt. Heather Chrisco, Air University Television NCO in charge. "I decided to complete the class again when I heard the curriculum changed."
She explained that although she always knew the day would come when she would hang up her uniform for the last time, her approved retirement date of July 1, brought the picture into focus.
"The second time around, the new program focused more on the military member translating their military experiences into the civilian job market to get a job," explained Chrisco.
Like Chrisco, Christopher McMahon, a senior airman who separated in November while stationed at Maxwell, said he walked into the Transition GPS class with a list of questions.
"I was curious about my benefits, like medical coverage and how to start using the GI Bill," he said. According to Sherri Kitchens, transition assistance specialist at the Maxwell Airman and Family Readiness Center, Airmen like McMahon and Chrisco often have more questions right before separating than they did before joining.
"The new program provides classes for resume writing, education benefits, health benefits, unemployment compensation, networking, interviewing skills and salary negotiations," said Kitchens.
Thus far, the Maxwell Transition GPS program is showing positive results. Although both Chrisco and McMahon have different plans for life after the uniform, they left the Transition GPS with the answers they needed.
"I am going back to school, completing my human resources management degree and spending more time with my family," Chrisco said. "I had questions, which is why I went twice, and most of them were answered during the week."
McMahon is moving back to Washington state to pursue a career as a video game developer, but he said the class offered details and little nuances that help clear up confusion.
Of the 13 million Americans submitting resumes for job openings on a regular basis, more than 150,000 once donned the uniform daily, making support such as Transition GPS more important than ever.
"It is great to see that although someone is leaving, the Air Force still has your back," said McMahon.
For more information on the next Transition GPS, visit the Family Readiness Center or call 953-8656.