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Transition Assistance Program slated to be mandatory for separating Airmen

Members of Team Beale study during a Transition Assistance Program class at the Airmen & Family Readiness Center Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 6, 2012. TAP is slated to become a mandatory five-day class for Airmen separating from service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo/Released)

Members of Team Beale study during a Transition Assistance Program class at the Airmen & Family Readiness Center Beale Air Force Base, Calif., Nov. 6, 2012. TAP is slated to become a mandatory five-day class for Airmen separating from service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo/Released)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Airmen & Family Readiness Center here will implement a mandatory five-day Transition Assistance Program Nov. 21.

Theresa Banks, A&FRC community readiness specialist, said the push to make the program mandatory stems from the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011. This Act is comprehensive legislation designed to lower unacceptably high unemployment rates among the nation's veterans.

"We found that many servicemembers were not informed of the many benefits and programs available to them," Banks said. "By making this program mandatory, our Airmen are set up for success in the civilian world."

The new TAP will replace the three-day optional version.

TAP partners the resources of the Departments of Defense, Labor, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security by highlighting available benefits, offering career counseling, helping with résumé and financial planning.

The program also has VA representatives offer briefings about various programs available to departing Airmen at state and federal levels. These benefits include disability compensation, life insurance, home and business loans, medical care and education.

In addition to the many briefings, A&FRC staff provide detailed pre-separation counseling that covers topics such as education benefits, unemployment compensation, health insurance and much more. The staff offers classes on federal résumé writing and navigating employment websites such as USAJobs.gov. Individual TAP classes that include networking, interviewing skills and salary negotiation are also provided.

Banks said aside from classes and seminars, counselors assist Airmen with the development of an individual transition plan, a roadmap to transition from military to civilian life.

"From VA benefits to the GI Bill, the information that TAP provides is relevant and informative," said Senior Airman Octavia Pounds, 9th Medical Support Squadron unit deployment manager, who is currently attending TAP. "I feel that I'm more prepared to enter the civilian world."

Banks advises Airmen looking to resume civilian life (workforce or schooling) to start at least one year before separating from service.

"I believe the earlier you prepare, the more successful you will be in any endeavor."

For more information about the Transition Assistance Program, contact the Airman & Family Readiness Center at 634-2863.