ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 is bringing changes to the Transition Assistance Program aimed to help service members better prepare for their future.
TAP provides transitioning service members a wealth of information, skill building and counseling services to enhance their transition from military to civilian life.
Julie Misiewicz, a community readiness consultant at the Robins Airman & Family Readiness Center, said the program strives to strengthen military members’ skills and prepare them for success as they move into the next phase of their lives.
As of Oct. 1, some requirement changes within TAP have taken effect, to include when military members must take the program.
“The NDAA for FY2019 mandates that service members who have been on active duty, or Title 10, 180 days or more must complete appropriate TAP mandates,” Misiewicz said. “The 180-day mark does not include those on Title 10 for full-time training duty, annual training or attendance at a school designated as a service school.”
Misiewicz said service members should start planning 18-24 months prior to their anticipated separation and 24 months prior to anticipated retirement.
The TAP process now begins with an individualized initial counseling appointment which includes the completion of a self-assessment with an A&FRC TAP counselor.
“This will establish the service member’s level of readiness for transition and determine which TAP activities the member must complete to address their post-transition goals,” said Timerie Nastav, a community readiness specialist in A&FRC.
Completion of an initial counseling and pre-separation counseling must occur no later than 365 days prior to separation or retirement, Misiewicz said.
Service members should contact their local Airman & Family Readiness Center to schedule their face-to-face initial counseling and commence their transition preparation.
Nastav said based on the results of the initial counseling appointment, service members will be placed into one of three tiers based on their level of preparedness for separation.
“The assigned tier level will dictate which TAP classes service members must attend and which career readiness standards service members are expected to meet,” she said.
According to their assigned tier, some services members may only be required to attend a three-day TAP workshop while others may be required to attend five days of instruction, Nastav said.
Misiewicz said these collective changes were put in place to help provide service members more time to fully prepare for their transition.
“The changes offer a more individualized approach to helping the service member and their families better prepare,” she said.
Misiewicz said one challenge with the changes, however, is getting the word out to airmen that starting early and developing an Individual Transition Plan is key to a successful transition.
In the long run, Nastav said the changes to TAP will allow Airmen more time to plan for their separation or retirement and will provide them with services tailored to their individual needs.