“TAP”: Helping Airmen ease the transition from military to civilian

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Montse Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Life after the military can be full of unanswered questions and insecurities about what the future holds for military members and their families transitioning into the civilian workforce.
Aid from the Transition Assistance Program is provided to Department of Defense service members, DoD federal civilians facing restructuring or force reductions and eligible family members.

Alan Stachowiak, 509th Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant and former Air Force member, said participating in TAP can provide an excellent 'roadmap' for members and families to focus on while they contemplate what's important for their transition.

"There are two important tracks to follow in TAP: Pre-separation or pre-retirement counseling and attending the TAP workshop," said Stachowiak. "The counseling aspect serves as a foundation for all other transition assistance and provides a broad scope of information covering employment, health and life insurance, relocation assistance, finances, and applying for Veterans Administration disability. However, members must have this counseling no later than 90 days prior to the official date or separation or retirement, and the sooner the better."

"The TAP workshop covers many aspects of seeking employment or preparatory career planning such as self-appraisal, effective job search, networking, resume writing, interviewing and salary negotiation," said R.D "Smitty" Smith, 509th FSS financial readiness consultant and new TAP consultant.

Stachowiak said it's important for military members who are either retiring or separating to not procrastinate on preparing for the transition because that can make it more stressful. He also mentioned that members with families must be cognizant of their needs during the transition process as well.

"They are transitioning too," Stachowiak said.

"It can be a nerve-wracking experience," Stachowiak said. "Especially for those who have served more than 20 years and joined right after high school and military life is all they know. But if they are prepared they can bring the best of their military experience into the civilian workplace."

Stachowiak said that across the board, many employers in the civilian workforce look for job candidates with strong leadership skills which helps give prior military members an upper-hand.

"The one thing employers find appealing about prior service military, whether it's one tour of service or 20 plus years, is that most folks tend to be goal-oriented, disciplined, drug free, self-motivated and capable of managing authority," Stachowiak said. "But in today's tough economy, being a veteran isn't enough. You have to give employers your qualifications to hire you by making yourself competitive against your civilian counterparts."

Whether it's obtaining a degree, getting certified or obtaining a license for your craft, Stachowiak said having one or the other is a must now-a-days to make members competitive. He believes practicing core values - integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do -- will help ensure their success.

"The greatest benefit is the knowledge, skills, and accomplishments many service members carry with them after they separate," Stachowiak said.

For more information about retirement or separation contact R.D. "Smitty" Smith at the Airmen and Family Readiness Center at 660-687-7123.