The Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP)

Tuesday June 13, 2006

Now in its sixteenth year, ACAP remains popular with Soldiers who have decided to retire or separate from the Army. ACAP started in 1990 when the Army began to downsize and felt obligated to provide a full range of transition services to Soldiers, family members, and DA civilians transitioning to civilian life. The program began with seven pilot sites, grew to 62 ACAP Centers worldwide, at its zenith, and now has 36 ACAP Centers and 18 satellites, 11 of which are one-person sites, and provides demobilization at 4 additional locations.

What does ACAP do? It provides preseparation briefings, counseling and seminars in resume and cover letter preparation, interviewing, negotiating salary and benefits, and translating Army experience into the language of the marketplace. In partnership with DoL and DVA, it exposes transitioners of all grades to a comprehensive transition assistance workshop and to briefings on VA benefits. In short, it seeks to accomplish the goal that former Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh set for it -- "to have each Soldier leave the Army with a good taste in his or her mouth."

Separating Soldiers may begin the ACAP process one year before their scheduled separation and retirees can start two years out. Starting early benefits the Army, its units and Soldiers. Soldiers and their family members can participate more fully in ACAP's offerings while units have them available for mission requirements for longer periods.

Contrary to some beliefs, ACAP causes many Soldiers to reconsider plans to leave the Army. ACAP counselors help Soldiers focus on their career objectives, realistically assess their qualifications, and compare potential civilian pay and benefits against total Army compensation and benefits. This comparison usually is eye-opening, especially for younger Soldiers with growing families. Evidence of this are the more than 3,800 Soldiers who reenlisted in the first four months of FY06 after starting the ACAP process.

Good for Soldiers and good for the Army, ACAP is one of the Army's success stories.


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