By Chrystal Smith, IMCOMJuly 16, 2014
WIESBADEN, Germany (July 16, 2014) -- As news of the reduction in force reaches thousands of Soldiers, it's important to know that the Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance Program, formerly known as Army Career and Alumni Program, is still a key resource in place to help with the transition to civilian life.
Transition and accredited financial counselors are standing by ready to assist Soldiers, as early as 18 months before exiting the military.
"If there's any chance you may get that call, even if you think getting out is possible, start," said Angela Roelofs, Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance counselor, who explained that it is mandatory for active duty and Army Reserve Soldiers with more than 180 days of continuous active duty who are leaving the military, to use the transition program.
Those who know they will separate from service must start no later than 12 months (and up to 18 months, and retiring Soldiers 24 months) before the expiration term of service date. And even if one is not sure, Soldiers are advised to begin using the resource just to be sure.
"Start it anyway just in case; it's not like you have to get out," said Stephanie Talcott, accredited financial counselor with the program, dismissing the myth that if a Soldier begins to use the transition assistance program's resources that he or she must separate from the military. "This way they can see all the options in front of them and make an informed decision. And if they find they don't have to get out or are not getting out, and then they can simply stop using the resource."
"Many underestimate the difficulty of navigating the job market," said Roelofs. "If you come to (Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance Program), you are better prepared."
The transition assistance process starts with an initial counseling to introduce one to the transition program. Then Soldiers sit with a counselor to develop an individual transition plan. Once the process is initiated, the career counselor will assist the service member with writing and reviewing resumes, cover letters, job searching and interviewing techniques. Throughout the transition process a number of workshops and briefings are offered to inform service members of their benefits and entitlements through Veterans Affairs.
The mandatory workshops and seminars include:
• Transition Overview and Military Occupational Specialty Crosswalk Workshop
• Financial Planning Workshop
• Department of Labor Employment Workshop
• VA Benefits Briefing
• Individual Transition Plan Review
• Career Track Course
Advanced résumé writing assistance, federal job application assistance and Veterans Affairs seminars are offered as additional options through the program. Career track courses -- education, entrepreneurship and technical training -- address the different paths available after leaving the military and offers specific guidance relative to each pathway.
Confidential financial counseling is offered through the resource to give military members and their families guidance on topics such as insurance, taxes, adjusted income and comparison of income minus allowances for clothing, housing or subsistence.
"I counsel you on what you need," said Talcott, explaining the necessity of performing a cost and benefits analysis with military members, and helping some realize how much income will be needed to maintain a similar quality of life after separating, as well as evaluating personal credit reports. "We try to get that fixed before they leave, so they can enjoy what they work for."
Program managers said they have the flexibility to offer information and services for what Soldiers want to know.
"Helping people be situated before they leave the service is a huge deal," said Talcott.
"It matters because you owe it to yourself," said Kathy Palmer, Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance Program counselor. "You've given so much to the Army, and they are giving you time to think about and take care of yourself."
The Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance Program center is located in Clay Kaserne Building 1023E. Stop by the center or call mil 337-5709 or civ (0611) 705-5709 for more information.