WASHINGTON, American Forces Press Service, October 9, 2013 – The Defense Department continues to assist service members and their families in preparing for the transition to civilian life with a new virtual curriculum, a Defense Department official said here.
During a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service, Susan S. Kelly, director of the Transition to Veterans Program office, discussed the redesign of the Transition Assistance Program and its evolution to include the Transition GPS virtual curriculum on the Joint Knowledge Online portal, or JKO, which became available today.
“We recognize that many of our service members don’t have access to brick and mortar classrooms for transition instruction” Kelly said. “The JKO portal is our effort to take all of the redesigned TAP curriculum, which is called Transition GPS, … and put it into an environment where they can access it whenever they need it from anywhere in the world.”
Service members, she said, can improve their job search skills, find out about Veterans Administration benefits, learn how to find and apply to a college or university that fits their goals, or how to start their own business by accessing the Transition GPS virtual curriculum.
An essential part of the virtual curriculum capability, Kelly added, is to support the ability to meet career readiness standards published by the Defense Department.
“Those career readiness standards extend all the way from registering in VA’s ‘e-Benefits’ so they’re connected to the Veterans Affairs family immediately, all the way to career readiness standards for employment, where service members have to develop a job application packet, resume, personal and professional references as well as job applications,” she said.
Those standards also include a completed application for institutions of higher learning or technical institutions if service members are planning to go to college or receive a certification using the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Kelly said.
“There’s a whole expanse of career readiness standards that the military members must meet before they separate,” she said. “The Transition GPS curriculum has modules that build the skills for the service members to meet each one of those career readiness standards.”
The ultimate goal is for the service members to determine what their personal goals are when they enter civilian life and to posture them well to be successful in pursuing those goals, Kelly said.
“The goal of the entire TAP redesign is to get military members career-ready for their civilian lives and to help them do very, very deliberate planning for both themselves and their families to do well as they become civilians,” she added.
The best way for a service member to begin this process is to contact the transition assistance program staff on their installation, Kelly said. Soldiers should contact the Army Career Alumni Program, sailors and Marines can use fleet and family support centers, and airmen can begin this process at their nearest airmen and family readiness center.
“That’s the first entry point for them to get scheduled for classes,” Kelly said. For those who are geographically separated or isolated from installations, she added, the virtual curriculum is there for them on the JKO website.
Kelly also noted it’s important that this virtual curriculum is being hosted on the JKO portal.
“That’s where service members go for military training now in the joint world,” she said. “So we are putting transition preparation training into that military training platform.”
The virtual curriculum is a major accomplishment in the TAP redesign according to Kelly. It’s the first time that the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force, as an interagency partnership that includes the DOD and the Veterans Affairs, Labor and Education departments, as well as the Small Business Administration and the Office of Personnel Management, has developed and hosted a complete curriculum for service members on one website.
Kelly noted that the virtual curriculum can also be used by service members who are exploring their options as they think about continuing in the military or transitioning out.
“You don’t have to be enrolled in the TAP class to use this website,” she said. “Any service member can log in and use it, even years before they make the decision to transition to civilian life.”
Preparing for separation is a part of any service member’s military career, Kelly said.
“You want to align what you’re gaining out of military training and experience with what you want to do as a civilian when you separate,” she added.