SFL-TAP says to "Go Early, Go Often," but why?

By Jenny Hale, SFL-TAP STRATCOMFebruary 13, 2017

Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Soldier Life Cycle starts at the beginning of a Soldier's career, then continues throughout transition and beyond. It is broken down into three phases that will help Soldiers determine what path they would like to follow during their time in Service and help prepare them for a career after active duty.

The Soldier for Life -- Transition Assistance Program may be the final phase of a Soldier's lifecycle, but smart Soldiers use all phases to help determine their future in a civilian setting. It is important to get into the mindset of preparing for a civilian career from the beginning of a military career. The more a Soldier prepares throughout their career for the future, the more likely they are to be successful in the civilian sector.

Only 10 to 20 percent of Army Soldiers are in the Service long-term and reach retirement status. Whether a Soldier is on active duty three years or 30 all Soldiers will hang up the uniform at some point. There are plenty of opportunities that the Army provides to help Soldiers prepare for life in the civilian sector.

In many ways, the Soldier Life Cycle looks the same at the end of an active duty career as it does in the beginning.

During the initial phase, a Soldier learns job (military occupation specialty) credentialing information and receives financial readiness training at initial entry training. During this time, a Soldier also registers for eBenefits through the Veterans Administration and develops their Initial Development Plan to mold their future plans in the Army. Some of these same tasks are also required in the final transition phase during SFL-TAP. When a Soldier begins their career in the Army, they're already starting to lay the foundation for their future transition to the civilian sector.

During the service phase (after the first year of service), Soldiers are required to update their IDP yearly, as well as assess their finances. During re-enlistment and promotion periods, Soldiers complete a job analysis to bridge the gap between military and civilian career skills, as well as an occupation interest self-assessment.

Soldiers work towards their education or technical training goals through traditional education, technical training, job credentials, and military experience. Soldiers will also receive credentialing information during their professional military education courses.

As a Soldier continues their career in the Army, it is important to pick up training and credentials that could help meet future civilian goals. All of these preparations play a key role in the transition process later in a military career.

It's important for Soldiers to start the transition process early, not only throughout the Soldier Life Cycle, but towards the end as well. SFL-TAP encourages Soldiers to attend the program 18 months prior to transition or 24 months prior for retirees, and for good reason. The earlier a Soldier begins their transition preparations, the more prepared they will be to pursue career, educational, or entrepreneurial goals.

To get a jump-start on life after Army active duty, visit www.sfl-tap.army.mil. SFL-TAP is also available on social media! Check out SFL-TAP on Facebook (Soldier for Life -- Transition Assistance Program), Twitter (@SFLTAP), and LinkedIn (Soldier for Life -- Transition Assistance Program Connection Group).