By Lt. Col. Paul Capicik (USAF, Ret.), American Sentinel University
Before active-duty members separate or retire, they go through mandatory pre-separation Transition Assistance Program (TAP) courses to prepare them for the civilian workforce. For those about to become veterans, I recommend making maximum use of the training and assistance a local TAP office offers (not just the mandatory courses, but specialized training in things like résumé writing and job interviewing, as well).
Not all current veterans have had the opportunity to attend a TAP course. Many separated or retired long before such training was mandatory, or even available. While it is ideal to attend TAP courses in person, it is possible to obtain the same information, guidance, tools, and assistance via official online resources.
In addition to having access to TAP materials online, there are also other resources, many of which are intended just for veterans. I will explore some of these avenues in this article.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
The VA has programs to assist veterans as they transition. One of its most comprehensive programs is the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program, also called the VetSuccess program. The VR&E program helps eligible veterans (with at least 10% service-connected disability) prepare for, find, and keep suitable jobs. For veterans with service-connected disabilities so severe that they cannot immediately consider work, VetSuccess offers services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible. Here is what the VR&E program offers:
- Comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment
- Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services
- Employment services such as job-training, job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance
- Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives and job accommodations
- On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
- Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
- Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and medical referrals
- Independent living services for veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities
In addition to the VR&E program, the VA offers the Vet Center program in many cities throughout the United States. The Vet Center program operates a system of community based counseling centers which are staffed by a team of multi-disciplinary providers. Vet Centers provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to all veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for their family members for military related issues. Vet Centers offer a range of counseling services, among which are:
- Individual and group counseling
- Marital and family counseling
- Bereavement counseling
- Medical and benefits referrals
- Employment counseling
Additional Transition Assistance Resources
I mentioned earlier that the official military TAP program is available online. The Department of Defense (DoD) offers these resources at its TurboTAP website. There are downloadable TAP guides, as well as resources about compensation and benefits and wounded warrior care.
There are also countless semi-official and even commercial resources available. Veterans who are considering a private service, which can be costly, should weigh such a decision carefully. Many free services available through government and some commercial sites are excellent resources that should not be overlooked.
One superb semi-official online resource is CareerOneStop, a site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. It has a special section for military members, veterans, and dependents. CareerOneStop provides assistance with resume writing, job searching, and a great tool to translate military occupational codes and career fields into civilian terms.
Military.com has a comprehensive transition center complete with excellent tools designed for veterans. It brings together veterans and civilian employers looking for veterans in a robust job search function. It also hosts resume posting; provides assistance with crafting resumes; and contains a good military-to-civilian job skills translator to aid in resume development and interview preparation.
Finding assistance is not hard, if you know where to look. We hope the information we’ve provided will help all veterans find a successful civilian career. Whether the veteran is newly-minted and had the opportunity to attend a pre-separation TAP course while on active duty, or if the veteran has been away from the service for many years, there are resources available to benefit all. Take advantage of all official resources to which you may be entitled, as well as semi-official and private resources that may help you.
Named a Military-Friendly School by GI Jobs for the third year in a row, American Sentinel University offers outstanding military benefits for service members, spouses and veterans, including reduced tuition rates, an expansive transfer credit policy, no-cost books for active-duty, and personal support for the unique military lifestyle. American Sentinel provides accredited, quality Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs for high-job-growth industries, combining the flexibility of its100% online platform with dedicated personal support. Programs include IT, computer science, GIS, nursing, business intelligence, management, and IT industry certifications.
Paul Capicik is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who served as a command pilot qualified in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft and held several strategic and operational plans and program positions. Following retirement, he spent more than 12 years with Civil Air Patrol as director of several departments and Chief Information Officer for that nationwide 60,000-member organization. An Air Force Academy graduate who also holds a Master’s in Information Technology, Lt. Capicik is Vice President, Military Programs at American Sentinel University.