Army 'VOWs' to ensure success for transitioning Soldiers
October 4, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Oct. 4, 2012) -- Starting Nov. 21, all Soldiers will get the tools and support necessary to make a smooth transition into civilian life.
Known as the Veterans Opportunity to Work, or VOW, to Hire Heroes Act, these tools and support are a mandatory pre-separation counseling, a Department of Veterans Affairs benefits briefing and a Department of Labor employment workshop.
VOW falls under the Army Career and Alumni Program, or ACAP, which became a commander's program under Department of the Army Executive Order 054-12, signed in December 2011.
To comply with this order, commanders must now ensure their Soldiers, both active duty and reserve component, start transitioning no later than 12 months from their scheduled departure from the Army. Soldiers will then continue their participation in ACAP until they are discharged.
Commanders, sergeants major and first sergeants learned more about VOW and ACAP at an informational meeting, here, Friday.
The seminar, sponsored by Army Transition Services, ACAP, Directorate of Human Resources, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, focused on information provided by representatives from ACAP, the state unemployment office, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies.
Command teams learned the following:
•Commanders will actively ensure their Soldiers, both active and reserve component, will start transition no later than 12 months from their scheduled departure from the Army. Soldiers will continue their participation in ACAP until they're discharged.
•ACAP encourages Soldiers to have a final resume and at least one of the following transition products upon separation: a letter of acceptance from a college or university, a job offer or a list of job openings that the Soldier can qualify for.
•Commanders will now be required to ensure their Soldiers are counseled on lifelong learning and on developing goals, so Soldiers can create an Individual Development Plan, or IDP, during the Soldier's first duty assignment and continuing until separation.
"Counseling starts from day one," said Lt. Col. Dianna Terpin, commander, 715th Military Intelligence Battalion, 500th MI Brigade, who was attending the conference. "Even when the Soldier decides he or she is going to leave the military, that all goes into their counseling, so we understand that Soldier's goals.
"Commanders are going to be responsible to ensure that their Soldiers get their time to go to the workshops," Terpin continued. "If you start out far enough in advance, you should be able to get them in on time."
Terpin said ACAP has to be a priority.
"You can't let a Soldier be so mission-critical that they can't take care of these things because they'll get to the point that when they're getting out, they haven't met those goals. They don't have a resume, they don't know what to do, so now they're in a situation where they can't get a job because they didn't write a resume," she explained.
Terpin said she notices a difference between resumes of Soldiers who have attended ACAP and Soldiers who haven't. ACAP resumes are well written and focused.
"If a resume doesn't say the right things, Soldiers won't even get their foot in the door," Terpin said.
Just as commanders have responsibilities to ACAP, so do Soldiers. Since ACAP is a commander's program, transitioning Soldiers should immediately inform their chain of command. Then, Soldiers can immediately go to www.acap.army.mil to find ACAP information, how to contact ACAP counselors anytime and anywhere, and begin the transition process by initiating their pre-separation counseling.
If Soldiers' leadership doesn't provide the time to begin the transition process, Soldiers should address the issue by exercising their chain of command's open door policy.
Veterans and Unemployment
The top five occupations of enlisted Soldiers applying for unemployment compensation follow:
--88M, Motor Transport Operator.
--68W, Healthcare Specialist (Combat Medic).
--31B, Military Police.
--42A, Human Resources Specialist.
Transition Resources for Soldiers
Learn more about ACAP and its services:
--Call (808) 655-1028, ext. 5;
--Fax (808) 655-1903;
--Visit the ACAP office in Bldg. 750, Room 134, Soldier Support Center, Schofield Barracks;
--Email email@example.com; or
--Soldiers can now use an online service to complete their mandatory pre-separation briefing on the ACAP homepage; visit www.acap.army.mil.
--Soldiers can receive receive one-on-one counseling by calling ACAP's 24/7 call center service at (800) 325-4715 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.