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This is a chapter from the Family Caregiver Curriculum, Module 4: Navigating Services and Benefits.
Is your family member leaving the military?
Transitions can be stressful, even in the best of times. You may be feeling unsure about what the future will bring.
Comfort yourself with the thought that you and your service member/ veteran are part of a large family (the military). This family will support your transition to the future in every way possible.
What Transition Services are Available for Service Members?
Transition Assistance Program
DoD has a Transition Assistance Program to help service members move from military service to civilian life. The Transition Assistance Office offers this program. It is usually located:
- On Air Force installations, in the Airman and Family Readiness Center
- On Navy and Marine Corps installations, with the Family Support/Service Center
- On Army installations, through the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP)
To find the Transition Assistance Office closest to you, go to http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil.
All service members who are leaving the military are required to receive pre-separation counseling. By law, this must happen within 90 days before active duty ends.
It takes time, however, to develop a good transition action plan. For that reason, service members should set up a pre-separation counseling appointment at least 180 days before their active duty is complete.
Arranging a pre-separation counseling appointment 90 days prior to leaving active duty may be impractical for Reserve Component service members because of their demobilization timeline. Make sure to make your appointment as soon as possible within the demobilization process.
During pre-separation counseling, service members learn about benefits and rights. They also learn about services that are available.
During the counseling, service members complete a “Pre-separation Counseling Checklist” with help from the counselor. For active duty service members, this is DD Form 2648. For Reserve Component service members, it is DD Form 2648-1.
These checklists help the service member to identify his or her needs and develop a personal plan for getting help to meet those needs. He or she will be given a copy of the checklist at the end of the counseling - don’t lose it.
Throughout your service member’s transition, he or she will have free access to trained transition assistance counselors. They can help modify the individual transition plan, secure necessary services, and resolve problems.
Another key to successful transition is planning. Transitioning is serious business and requires a carefully thought out Individual Transition Plan (ITP). The ITP is your service member’s game plan for a successful transition to civilian life. It is a framework he or she can use to fulfill realistic career goals based upon his or her unique skills, knowledge, experience, and abilities.
The ITP is not an official form. It is something the service member creates. The ITP identifies actions and activities associated with the individual’s transition.
Fortunately, the Transition Assistance Office can give your service member a head start on the development of his or her ITP. His or her copy of the Pre-separation Counseling Checklist (DD Forms 2648 or 2648-1) will serve as an outline for the ITP.
On this checklist, your service member will indicate the benefits and services for which he or she desires to receive additional counseling. He or she will then be referred to subject experts who will gladly answer questions.
Your service member’s Transition Assistance Office can furnish additional information and emphasize certain points to consider.
Spouses are encouraged to attend all transition assistance briefings, such as the Transition Assistance Workshops described below. You will learn many helpful ideas that you can apply to your own transition from military to civilian life, including employment.
Transition Assistance Workshops
The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) includes employment assistance services. These begin with TAP workshops conducted by instructors from the Department of Labor. They provide the basic knowledge and skills needed to plan and execute a successful job search:
- Assessing the individual’s preferences, skills, experience, and education/training
- Making career decisions regarding career objectives and financial needs
- Obtaining an interview by identifying job opportunities, writing effective resumes and applications, and researching potential employers
- Winning the job by preparing for and participating in successful interviews
The Transition Assistance Office can provide additional employment assistance and resources. Services vary by location, but often include:
- Individual counseling and assistance
- Job fairs
- Job search libraries
- Access to job listings
- Automated tools for preparing resumes, cover letters, and federal job applications
- Assistance in preparing resumes and cover letters
If your family member is hospitalized or not close to a major installation with a Transition Assistance Office, he or she can use the DoD official Transition Assistance Program Web site, TurboTAP (http://www.transitionassistanceprogram.com/register.tpp), which provides information and links to other helpful Web sites.
What Transition Services are Available for Disabled Service Members?
Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP)
DTAP is the part of the Transition Assistance Program that works with disabled service members. The goal of DTAP is to help service members who might be eligible for the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E) to make an informed decision about this program. (See Chapter 7 for more information about VR&E.)
It also helps eligible service members in filing an application for vocational rehabilitation benefits so they can receive these benefits more quickly.
DTAP presentations are usually group sessions that cover:
- educational/vocational counseling available to separating service members and veterans
If your service member/veteran is unable to attend a group session because of treatment, the VA Regional Office VR&E Officer will coordinate services for him or her.
See more information included in Module 4: Navigating Services and Benefits.
The Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide for Caregivers of Service Members and Veterans provides comprehensive information and resources caregivers need to care and advocate for their injured loved one and to care for themselves in the process. The Guide was developed by the Defense Health Board, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs.