Unemployment Compensation for Soldiers leaving the Army during fiscal year 2016 dropped to the lowest amount recorded in 13 years.

The Army ended the year at $172.8 million, according to the Department of Labor's unemployment compensation report. Army expenditures had peaked in 2011, at $515 million. This is the first time expenditures dropped below $200 million since 2003.

In the last four years the Army has saved over $900 million in cost avoidance for unemployment compensation expenditures through programs like the IMCOM Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program, which prepares Soldiers for finding employment in the civilian sector when they leave active service.

"The significant reduction in the Army's bill for unemployment compensation, along with the reduction in the national Veteran unemployment rate, can be attributed to the diligence of the team of teams at IMCOM's SFL-TAP centers who are selfless, passionate and dedicated to this important mission," said IMCOM Cmd. Sgt. Major Melissa Judkins.

IMCOM executes SFL-TAP by providing resources, guidance and support to 73 centers world-wide. The command markets the program to Soldiers, provides direct funding and manpower, develops standardized training and monitors the execution of the program.

When Soldiers receive unemployment compensation from a state agency, the Department of Labor bills the Army for reimbursement. Reducing the number of Soldiers receiving compensation by assisting them in their transition to the civilian sector benefits both the Army and the Federal Government in cost avoidance savings.

In 2016 alone, over 117,000 Soldiers successfully transitioned into the civilian community using SFL-TAP services.

"We are excited to see that more Army Veterans are finding careers after they transition off of active duty service, and fewer are having to file for unemployment compensation," said retired Col. Walter Herd, Director of the Soldier for Life -- Transition Assistance Program, based out of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Although experience shows veterans generally enjoy a favorable employment rate in the nation's job market, many veterans initially find it difficult to compete successfully in the civilian labor market. SFL-TAP Centers help Soldiers alleviate many employment-related difficulties and prepare them for success.

IMCOM SFL-TAP Centers have partnered with the Department of Labor, DOD, the Small Business Administration, and Veterans Affairs to provide employment and training information to Soldiers and their eligible spouses within one year of their separation or two years of their retirement from the military.

"This is a positive step for our Soldiers and our Nation as we continue to support and provide the assistance Soldiers need as they transition off of active duty service," Judkins said.

"However, as we transition 90-thousand-plus Soldiers per year for the next 3-5 years, it's imperative for the Army to maintain the momentum to keep Veteran unemployment low and continue to reduce UCX for the Army," she concluded.