The Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Education, the Office of Personnel Management and the Small Business Administration codified their continued commitment to help transitioning service members be "career ready" for civilian life by signing a statement of intent on Aug. 15.
"This [statement of intent] puts our shared commitment to our service members in black and white," said Dr. Susan Kelly, principal director of DOD's Transition to Veterans Program office.
Each of the military services was represented during the formal signing of the statement of intent, said Francine Blackmon, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for force management integration.
The services have aggressively implemented the various components of the redesigned Transition Assistance Program, Blackmon said.
Working elbow-to-elbow with the various partnering agencies, the services are ensuring service members are provided all the necessary tools to make a successful transition to civilian life, she said.
"The [statement of intent] strengthens our resolve for a concerted interagency effort working toward this common goal," Blackmon added.
More than 250,000 service members separate from active duty each year, and they face numerous challenges as they transition to civilian life. The statement of intent is a milestone for the interagency effort to redesign the 1990s-era transition assistance program model and help service members meet those challenges. The signing shows that the redesigned TAP is not a short-term effort but a set of greatly improved transition services that the partners will sustain for the long-term.
"Even in this time of budget constraints, each of the interagency partners and the services will sustain the effort to implement the redesign of transition assistance," Kelly said. This includes staff at installations to provide face-to-face information and new skills, as well as a virtual curriculum to build the same career readiness skills for service members and reservists in isolated and geographically separated locations, she added.
The statement of intent also establishes the objectives for the new governance structure and the foundation of the new TAP Executive Council, comprised of DOD, VA and DOL co-chairs, as well as senior executives from SBA, OPM, ED and the military services. The new TAP Executive Council will steer the collaboration and partnership efforts through 2016 and implement and modify the redesigned program as needed to meet changing needs of transitioning service members through the years.
Over the last eighteen months, the DOD and VA have led the efforts of the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force interagency partners and the White House Economic and Domestic Policy Council staffs in redesigning the Desert Storm-era Transition Assistance Program to better prepare service members for these challenges as they leave the military and become veterans.
The redesigned TAP provides training that will build skills to enable transitioning service members to meet career readiness standards established by DOD. The training, known as Transition GPS (goals, plans, success), is comprised of interlinked curriculum, services, and processes conducted by numerous partners -- DOD, the military services, VA, DOL, SBA, and OPM.
Interagency partner Department of Education and the National Guard Bureau continue to serve in valued consultative and advisory roles.
Advancing their work together, the agencies will cultivate an interagency partnership that builds upon mutual respect, cooperation and shared goals to successfully transition career ready service members to the civilian sector.