VOW now in effect
November 30, 2012
VOW now in effect
Trish Muntean, Fort Wainwright PAO
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - (November 30, 2012) The program for transitioning Soldiers is in transition itself as the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 went into effect on Nov. 21, making the Army Career and Alumni Program a commander's program.
"At the present time, what is happening is that IMCOM and ACAP are working very diligently to get the notification out to the commanders that it has officially become a commander's program," said Kalah Gilbreath, Army ACAP manager for Fort Wainwright.
The changes to the program direct commanders at all levels of the Army to ensure that all Soldiers begin their transition as soon as they know they are getting out and continuing until they are discharged. This includes Soldiers being chaptered. Gilbreath said that in time there will be a transition service council established, where each unit will have a representative to help track their Soldiers that are transitioning out.
For the present time though "the biggest impact that it is going to have is that Soldiers who are transitioning are used to being able to come in, get their ACAP done and then be done," Gilbreath said. However, as of Nov. 21, once the VOW act became law, there is now mandatory participation in the Department of Labor workshop, mandatory participation in the Veteran's Administration brief and mandatory participation in the financial readiness class before a Soldier can clear the installation.
Eventually all ACAP classes will be mandatory, but for right now it is just those few and when they are complete the Soldier will have a working budget and a resume. ACAP can also do classes for larger groups to help translate their military occupational specialty into terms suitable for a civilian resume.
Because some of these classes are booked weeks in advance, Gilbreath said that it is essential for Soldiers to come to ACAP as soon as they know they are going to transition so that they can get their pre-separation counseling done as well as their initial counseling. Some of this can be done from home if Soldiers know their AKO password and make use of the 24-hour call center.
Once this is accomplished, the Soldier will sit down with a counselor and discuss future plans such as if they plan to attend school, do they intend to go directly into the civilian work force, or what are they going to do after they hang up their uniform. What is available for them in the area they choose to live?
After that the next step is to start getting a resume together (something that takes more than a day) and a there is a financial counselor to talk to Soldiers about debt, how to read a credit report, etc.
Gilbreath said that ACAP wants to prepare Soldiers for the challenges that come in civilian life since after the Army there is no one to fall back on.
In addition to these services, those who think they may have any sort of service related disability are encourage to meet with Tom Hutto, at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center (located at the Fort Wainwright Warriors in Transition Unit office complex) who can give more information on what programs these Soldiers may be eligible for.
Gilbreath said that he is up to date on what programs Soldiers with a service related disability may be eligible for and works very closely with VA. Warriors in Transition that are in need of services that can't be accessed at their location should contact ACAP so they can assist them. There will be an ACAP counselor located at the WTU on a fulltime basis sometime during the next few months.
ACAP works, but it takes time and the service member has to understand that the success of life after active duty depends on the preparation that goes into it before transitioning, she said.