By Sarah Pacheco, Hawaii Army Weekly, U.S. Army Garrison-HawaiiJuly 30, 2014
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- The Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) has undergone a slight transition of its own, so to speak.
The former ACAP now is known as Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
The name-change went into effect, here, earlier this month, to reflect the main goal of the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act, which is to ensure lifelong success of Soldiers by connecting them with job opportunities, educating them on how to leverage their skills post-service, and educating external audiences about the capabilities and professionalism of veterans.
"Basically, the 'Soldier for Life Cycle' concept is a holistic view," said Charlene Shelton, transition services manager, Directorate of Human Resources, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
"The whole culture of the military is changing to where we're going to be taking care of Soldiers right from the get-go, from the beginning when they come into the unit till the very end when they separate out," Shelton explained. "Transition now is considered all throughout a military career, not just at the end."
Soldier for Life: TAP will continue to deliver a world-class transition program that empowers Soldiers to make informed career decisions and capitalize on their Army experience and skills to find a job best suited for them, post-service.
"There's a lot of decision-making and research to do, and that is what this whole program is about, making an informed decision," Shelton said. "And because this now falls under the 'Soldier for Life Cycle' umbrella, there's more service providers coming together to support the Soldier so that we're all aware of what we're supposed to be doing to take care of the Soldier and set him up for each transition throughout his military life cycle.
"It's always been this way," Shelton added, "but, now, we're approaching it from a different way."
Based at the Soldier Support Center, Schofield Barracks, and at Fort Shafter's Aloha Center, Soldier for Life: TAP assists Soldiers through life's ups and downs by providing the following services:
•Mandatory preseparation counseling,
•Individual counseling and employment assistance,
•Special employment assistance workshops and events,
•Department of Labor three-day Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Employment Workshop (offered at the Schofield Barracks ACAP Center only, due to space availability),
•Monthly Veterans Affairs benefits and disability briefings,
•TRICARE and Social Security disability briefings, and
•Financial planning workshops and personal counseling.
As mandated by the VOW Act, said Shelton, these training requirements must be completed prior to separation from the Army, and an Army Transition Program Exit Survey must be completed prior to issuance of clearance papers.
In addition, Soldiers are recommended to have a final resumé 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 the Soldier can qualify for.
"The Army wants to ensure that it is taking care of the Soldier all throughout his career to lead to the end result -- that he's going to be a successful person, whether he stays in the military or goes out into the civilian world," said Shelton.
Soldier for Life: TAP is a commander's program, and commanders at all levels of the Army are directed to embrace transition policies and encourage greater participation by Soldiers by actively ensuring their Soldiers to begin transition no later than 12 months from their scheduled departure from the Army and to continue their participation in the program until they are discharged.
"The Army has adopted a new attitude," said Tim Ryan, the new installation liaison for Soldier for Life: TAP.
"We're going through a period where a lot of Soldiers are getting out for a number of reasons, and to capitalize on the services and opportunities that the Army is providing. It is in everybody's best interest to leave both prepared and equipped for employment, higher education or to start their own business, and all of those capabilities are available here," Ryan explained.
"That's just life, period, for anybody," Shelton added, "but we need to embrace it in the military, and that's why it's that holistic view -- starring that Soldier from day one all the way through the end of his military career, and beyond."
-- Soldier for Life: TAP locations
The Schofield Barracks Soldier for Life: TAP office is in the Soldier Support Center, Bldg. 750, Room 134. Hours of operation are 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday. Call (808) 655-1028, ext. 5.
Fort Shafter's Soldier for Life: TAP office is located in the Outreach Center, Bldg. S330, Rm. 110. Hours of operation are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays and Fridays, and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays. Call (808) 438-9735.
For more information on transition assistance and the pre-separation timeline, or to check in with the Soldier for Life: TAP offices, visit the website.