The new Transition GPS: Set goals, make plan, achieve success

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The new Transition GPS: Set goals, make plan, achieve success

by: Stars and Stripes | .
Special Publications | .
published: September 11, 2013

The new Transition GPS: your way ahead on setting goals, making a plan and achieving success

“A new generation of servicemembers is coming home, and we made a lifetime commitment to them for their service and sacrifice. The redesigned Transition Assistance Program provides the necessary tools for servicemembers to make a successful transition out of the military to the next phase of their careers and lives.”

— Mr. Frederick E. Vollrath, Principal Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Readiness & Force Management

As servicemembers, you and your families will face numerous challenges in transitioning from military service. This is also true for those of you demobilizing as Reserve and National Guard members. When we think of transitioning from the military, we focus a lot on resumes, job searches, interviews, moving, VA benefits, and tons of military paperwork. These pieces are all important parts of the transition puzzle. But as you start fitting the pieces in-place, you must have a sense of the whole picture and begin with the end in mind to be successful.

A brief background about the new program
In a sweeping overhaul, the Department of Defense has redesigned the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) in partnership with the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Labor (DOL) and Education, the Small Business Administration, and representatives of the President’s economic and domestic policy teams. The redesigned TAP will ensure you, as servicemembers, will be “career ready” and well postured to meet your personal goals for civilian life. A new curriculum, Transition GPS (Goals, Plans, Success) will provide you with information and skills to meet new DoD Career Readiness Standards (CRS), and before you separate from active duty, your Commander will verify that these CRS are met.

The Transition GPS in a snapshot

  • You will receive pre-separation counseling and be required to register in the VA’s eBenefits portal.
  • Receive revised VA Benefit Briefings (6hrs).
  • Unless you are exempt, you will complete a revamped DOL Employment Workshop (24hrs) that teaches critical job search skills for today’s labor market.
  • The Transition GPS also provides a Financial Planning module (4hrs) to prepare you for the first 12 months post-separation.
  • An MOC Crosswalk module (2hrs) steers you through a gap analysis of the skills you received during your military career and the skills needed to successfully prepare you for a civilian career. This gap analysis sets the stages for your personal choice to further your career through academic coursework, technical training or small business exploration.
  • You also have the opportunity to gain skills from 2-day tailored tracks in accessing higher education, career technical training and entrepreneurship.
  • No later than 90 days before separation you will participate in a “Capstone” activity, verifying that you have a viable Individual Transition Plan and have met CRS. If the Command leadership thinks you are on track for a smooth transition, you will receive a “warm handoff” to an appropriate agency partner, the VA or DOL.

What are Career Readiness Standards (CRS)?
In order to succeed in your mission to leave the service “career ready” there are certain standards you must meet. The CRS you will meet are as follows:

Core curriculum

  • Complete an Individual Transition Plan (ITP).
  • Prepare a 12-month post–separation budget reflecting personal and family goals.
  • Register on VA’s eBenefits.
  • Complete counseling on the benefits and procedures for affiliating with the Reserves (a.k.a., Continuum of Military Service Opportunity Counseling) (Active Component only).
  • Evaluate transferability of military skills to civilian workforce (MOC Crosswalk) and complete a Gap Analysis between MOC and civilian occupational skills.
  • Identify requirements and eligibility for licensures, certification and apprenticeship among the relevant civilian occupations, if applicable.
  • Complete an assessment tool to identify aptitudes, interests, strengths and skills.

DOL Employment Workshop

  • Receive a “Gold Card” Certificate for DOL American Job Centers (AJC).
  • Complete a job application package including:
         • a resume (private and/or Federal),
         • a reference list (personal and professional),
         • two job applications -or- have received a job offer letter.

Accessing Higher Education Track

  • Complete a standardized individual assessment tool to assess aptitudes, interests, strengths and skills.
  • Complete a college or university application or receive an acceptance letter.
  • Compete a comparison of Higher Education institutions.
  • Confirm one-on-one counseling with a college or university advisor.

Career Technical Training Track

  • Complete a standardized individual assessment tool to assess aptitudes, interests, strengths and skills.
  • Complete a technical training application or receive an acceptance letter.
  • Complete a comparison of technical raining institution choices.
  • Confirm one-on-one counseling with a technical institution advisor.

Focusing on resilient transitions

“Our troops eventually complete their service commitment and rejoin our nation’s neighborhoods. When that time comes, it would be a disservice to send them out into the civilian world without thoroughly preparing them for some of the challenges they will face.”

- Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Transition is change, period. Anytime you introduce change into your lifestyle, you induce stress — sometimes good and sometimes bad. Good stress might be the feeling you have right before you get on a roller coaster. Bad stress is the build-up of emotions over things that you cannot control in your life. The key is to focus on stability and the things you can control. Transition GPS provides a pathway and a methodical approach to manage all of the things you need to do as you transition. You can manage the stress associated with transitioning, or know when to seek additional help from family, friends or professionals on your base or in your community when it becomes unmanageable.

A common response in both the military and civilian culture is to ignore stress in ourselves and in others. Don’t ignore it! Acknowledge that transitioning from Active Duty to civilian life is stressful. While in transition you need to focus on keeping your regular routines and habits. Exercise, eat right and take time to relax. Maintain the steps you took to sustain resiliency during active duty. Keep and use your support systems.

While you will hear more about stress and change management throughout the Transition GPS program, it is important to ask yourself how to maintain control and balance in your life throughout the process. Ask yourself these simple questions:

  1. “What can I do to help myself set realistic expectations, identify areas of control, develop appropriate responses and improve relationships along the way?
  2. How can I involve my family and let them feel some sense of control and feel like a meaningful part of the process?
  3. What opportunities are present to help me improve my personal and professional relationships?
  4. Are there training workshops, counseling opportunities, research sites, mentors, or job fairs that I can use to help?”

Finally, know where your local Family Support Center is located. Give them a call and set up a counseling session to discuss your options, resources and support in a more confidential private setting. If you would rather use another agency, your Family Support Center staff can help identify alternate resources. The important thing is that you recognize that this stress is a part of who you are and needs to be addressed as part of your individual transition plan.
Incorporation throughout your Military Life Cycle

“Whether it is on the battlefield, at home with their families, or after they have faithfully concluded their military service, we are committed to preparing servicemembers for whatever challenges they may face from warrior to veteran. They deserve no less.”

— Jessica L. Wright, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

The Department’s long-term aim for this new transition service delivery model is to embed the preparation for separation into civilian life throughout the Military Life Cycle (MLC). This will require thoughtful goal setting and planning to apply your military experience to your long-term career goals. You and your leadership will engage in mapping and refining development plans to achieve post military service goals at key touch points throughout your military career — a significant culture change. No later than the end of 2014, all servicemembers will be required to incorporate civilian career development throughout the span of their military careers ensuring that they are “career ready.”
The Stars and Stripes Transition Guide

As a part of our mission to provide our military with reliable and important information, we have worked in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Transition to Veterans Program Office to gather materials, resources and advice from all of the Federal agencies involved in the Transition GPS program. This guide should be used as a baseline of information for servicemen and women who are transitioning, or will be transitioning, out of the military over the next year or so.

By attending the Transition GPS coursework and taking advantage of the tracks offered, as well as the one-on-one counseling that you can ask for throughout your transition, you should find yourself prepared to reintegrate into the civilian workforce. Use the resources, benefits and services mentioned throughout this guide. You have earned them.

For more articles specifically designed to help active servicemembers and veterans navigate into their next stages of life, check out the Stars and Stripes Transition Guide here.