July 25, 2014 – Helping retiring and separating Soldiers manage their transition back into civilian life is the Army Career Alumni Program’s core mission, but this time it’s the program itself, that’s undergoing a major change.
Army officials are redesigning the program to better meet the ongoing needs of Soldiers through every phase of their enlistment or commission. One of the very first changes clients will notice is the new name. ACAP is now known as the Soldier For Life Transition Assistance Program.
According to Floyd Lewis, SFL Transition Service Manager for the Kaiserslautern, Baumholder and Wiesbaden communities, the new name reflects the Army’s desire to make the program more comprehensive.
“Part of the intent is that the chief of staff of the Army is implementing a Soldier for life concept,” Lewis said. “The Soldier for life concept is a holistic approach to providing direct support to service members and Soldiers and their family members from the time they actually enter into the military until the time they actually reintegrate back into the community.”
The Soldier for Life Program outlines its three components of success as employment, education and healthcare. Its four phases known as “start strong, serve strong, reintegrate strong and remain strong”- are designed to follow the Soldier from their first duty station, all the way through their actual separation or retirement.
Lewis and his staff say despite the new changes, customer service will remain the same and staff members are working to ensure an overall seamless transition.
“The services that are being currently provided will continue to be provided, but there is a possibility that after October, that some services might be accessible to our service members much earlier than they previously had been before. But there are still policies that are still being developed, exactly what those services will be and when they will be able to have access to them, we’re still waiting on the final word on that,” Lewis said.
Kaiserslautern SFL Counselor and military spouse, Tamara Brethouwer, said she supports the move and hopes it will help encourage Soldiers to begin planning as early as possible.
“I think it helps Soldiers stay in the mindset that this is a long-term process, thinking about transition starts at day one and I think that now people don’t think about transition until they are close to their ETS date or close to their retirement date…” she said.
Brethouwer also added that this has especially important due to the Army’s ongoing efforts to downsize the current force.
“With, the downsizing, people who intended to make the military their long-term career are finding themselves in situations where that option has been taken off the trouble, so it’s something that people need to keep in the forefront.”
For more information on the Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program, visit www.soldierforlife.army.mil.