ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Rock Island, Illinois -- (Jan. 7, 2015) Along with all the changes the Army is going through these days, the ACAP is also undergoing a rebranding to include: a name change, from Army Career and Alumni Program to Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program; a new Soldier for Life logo; and a new philosophy that is the driver for many other changes.
ACAP was designed in the 1990s, to help Soldiers transition out of the military, so it came into play only at the end of a Soldier's career. It offered an "optional" workshop for individuals to take part in approximately 90 days prior to separating/retiring from military service. The workshop included instruction on budgets, transition plans, transferring skills from military to civilian life, resume writing, job applications, interviewing, and VA benefits.
The SFL-TAP philosophy is a "Soldier for Life" mindset. It changes the way the Army prepares the Soldier for eventual transition to civilian life. Instead of waiting until the end of a Soldier's service time, preparation begins at the start of their service and continues throughout their entire military lifecycle. The SFL-TAP highlights the Soldier lifecycle with four points: "start strong, serve strong, reintegrate strong, and remain strong." What does this mean for Soldiers? It means:
• Phase I - Start Strong: In this phase Soldiers will learn their military occupational specialty (MOS). Leaders will teach the Army values which instill the Warrior Ethos, and that each Soldier will be a "Soldier for Life" -- "Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier"!
• Phase II - Serve Strong: This phase starts at the Soldiers' first duty assignment where they will complete a self-assessment with an education counselor to help them complete an individual development plan and map out how they want their career to progress and what needs to happen for them to get there; they will attend an eight-hour financial seminar and learn how to prepare budgets. Leaders will teach Soldiers about the Army Career Tracker, Credentialing Opportunities Online, the Joint Service Transcript, and credentialing opportunities through the unit or civilian sources. Soldiers will be connected with receiving credentialing information and possibly licensures regarding their MOS; for example maybe earning a commercial truck driver's license if they will be driving a truck in the military, so that skill will directly transfer over to the civilian world when they eventually transfer out of the military. Soldiers will keep resumes and training up-to-date at many touch-points throughout their military service. The emphasis has shifted to developing Soldiers' skills so when they eventually transition they will have more experience to build a resume.
• Phase III -- Reintegrate Strong: All Soldiers with more than 180 days of continuous active service must attend an SFL-TAP workshop starting as early as 24 months in advance of retiring or 12 to 18 months in advance of separating. Attendance of the SFL-TAP is now mandatory, instead of optional as it was in ACAP, and early participation is important - it helps reduce the stressors of transitioning and aids in assisting Soldiers with their search for employment. Commanders are responsible for ensuring Soldiers attend the workshops. It is recommended that each qualifying Soldier also attend at least one of the Goals, Plans and Success training tracks to further prepare for transitioning. GPS courses are two-day courses available to these Soldiers and their dependents. The courses are held shortly after each SFL-TAP workshop. GPS courses are: higher education, entrepreneurship, and career technical training. Leaders at all levels must be involved in their Soldiers' transition process; they should talk to Soldiers about their plans, and about connecting with the Army network. Active duty Soldiers are encouraged to continue military service by joining the National Guard or Army Reserve, while all separating Soldiers are encouraged to join local chapters of national Veteran's Support Organizations.
• Phase IV - Remain Strong: Maintaining our all volunteer Army is imperative. When Soldiers recommend to the next generation to join, this is how the Army stays strong. Soldiers need to have good experiences in the military and must have successful reintegration back into society, in order for others to see that being a part of the Army is a good idea for them. Soldiers remain strong by staying involved in VSOs, being a community leader and mentor and being Army ambassadors within the community.
This rebranding of the ACAP to the SFL-TAP philosophy should not only help Soldiers prepare for the civilian world by reducing the stressors of transitioning and increasing their odds of obtaining a better job once they have completed their military service, it should also result in smaller unemployment numbers amongst veterans.
The upcoming SFL-TAP workshops that will be held at the Rock Island Arsenal for the next calendar year are: Feb. 23-27, May 18-22, Aug. 17-21, and Nov. 16-20. The GPS track courses will be scheduled prior and closer to the time of each SFL-TAP workshop, and will take place shortly following each SFL-TAP workshop.
If you have any questions, or to register for an SFL-TAP workshop or GPS course, please contact the SFL-TAP transition services manager here on Rock Island Arsenal at 309-782-7780, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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