September 7, 2012
by Joel Fortner
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
A redesigned program will help ease every Airman’s transition to civilian life and better apply their military experience, Air Force officials said.
The program is the first major overhaul of the transition assistance program for military members in nearly 20 years.
The effort began in response to a call from President Barack Obama in August 2011 to ensure all service members are “career ready” when they leave the military.
Slated to begin servicewide in November, the current three-day, optional program will be expanded to five days and has been redesigned into a comprehensive, mandatory program that includes pre-separation counseling, a military-to-civilian skills review, a Veterans Affairs benefits briefing, financial planning support, job search skills building, and individual transition plan preparation.
A pilot program was held July 9-13 at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, which, according to officials, allowed Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs to test the initiative.
According to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, the redesigned program bolsters and standardizes the transition services that service members receive prior to retiring or separating from the military to make them employment ready.
“Our goal is to provide Airmen with a comprehensive transition assistance program that prepares them for life after the military, whether that’s pursuing education, working in the public or civilian sector, or starting a business,” Donley said.
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy said the program is as good for the civilian sector as it is for Airmen.
“Employers are looking for educated, trained, experienced people like those who are separating from the Air Force,” he said. “This program will help smooth our Airmen’s transitions to civilian life.”
Under the old program, separating Guardsmen and Reservists were often left to their own devices. Roy said another benefit of this new program is the inclusion of the Total Force.
“We want to take care of all our Airmen, and this program does that,” he said. “No component of our Total Force deserves more help transitioning than another.”
By October 2013, three two-day optional sessions on pursuing a technical certification, starting a business, or pursuing a higher educational degree will also be offered to Airmen.
“Our Airmen have extraordinary technical expertise and world-class leadership skills that are in high demand,” Donley said. “This program will help them apply their experience to additional training, formal education, and develop successful civilian careers.”