Alfred W. Alexander, Fort Rucker Transition Assistance Program Transition Services manager, helps Pfc. Samuel Villarreal with completing a TAP process. (Photo Credit: Jay Mann) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The award-winning Fort Rucker Transition Assistance Program helps Soldiers to land successfully in the civilian world after leaving the Army, but starting early is key to that success.

“We are the first stop for Soldiers preparing to transition out of the Army,” said Alfred W. Alexander, the TAP transition services manager.

He advised that contacting the TAP office one year before separating from the service is standard.

“About 650 Soldiers process through Fort Rucker TAP annually on their way out of the military,” explained Alexander. “We help Soldiers that are retiring, separating, or being chaptered out.”

The Fort Rucker TAP team is so good at what they do that they were awarded the Small Installation Unemployment Compensation Award for having the fewest separating Soldiers filling out unemployment compensation for a small installation within the Army.

“This is our third year receiving the award,” Alexander said. “It is a testament to the hard-working TAP staff here doing their jobs, and doing their jobs so well that they are recognized by Human Resources Command.”

He said that Soldiers need to respect the process when transitioning out of the military into civilian life.

“The first step for Soldiers is to take an online self-assessment to determine what services need to be provided, then they set up an appointment with a counselor,” Alexander said.

During the appointment with the counselor, Soldiers identify what will be required for them based on their self-assessment.

“The next step is a briefing where the transitioning service member and their spouse learn what benefits and services they are eligible to receive,” said Alexander.

From there, each Soldier will have classes and requirements that they need to complete based on their tier level.

“Tiers 1, 2 and 3 identify the Soldier’s preparedness to reenter the civilian workforce,” explained Alexander. “Normally, senior leaders, both enlisted and officers, are more prepared than junior Soldiers, and would fall into a different tier.”

TAP services like classes, counseling and assessments are available in-person, over the phone, virtually, or online depending on the needs and location of the Soldier. “Go early, go often,” Alexander said. “The sooner you begin preparing for your transition, the better off you will be.”

People thinking about separating or retiring should contact the TAP office at 255-2558.