A Leadership Imperative: Don’t View TAP as just a Check the Box Program

Mike Miller, Director of Private and Public Engagement, Defense Personnel and Family Support Center, speaks to a group of senior advisors about the importance of transition and forward thinking planning and what happens beyond the Transition Assistance Program in the larger military transition ecosystem in Okinawa, Japan, February 27. (Photo courtesy Katie Berland, Military Civilian Transition Office)
Mike Miller, Director of Private and Public Engagement, Defense Personnel and Family Support Center, speaks to a group of senior advisors about the importance of transition and forward thinking planning and what happens beyond the Transition Assistance Program in the larger military transition ecosystem in Okinawa, Japan, February 27. (Photo courtesy Katie Berland, Military Civilian Transition Office)

A Leadership Imperative: Don’t View TAP as just a Check the Box Program

DoD Transition Assistance Program

“Every service member eventually transitions,” said Mike Miller, director of Private and Public Engagement for the Defense Personnel and Family Support Center (DPFSC). “Denial is not a plan.”

Miller and Katie Berland, Strategic Communications Lead* for the Military-Civilian Transition Office attended the Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) Career Summits in Okinawa, Japan February 24-27. HOH hosted Career Summits at Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster.

Miller spoke to senior leadership teams from both the Marine Corps and Air Force commands about the importance of transition preparation, and the unique challenges transitioning from an overseas (OCONUS) location presents to transitioning service members and their families.

“The most common reflection of transitioned senior leaders is that they didn’t begin transition planning soon enough,” said Miller. “The second most common reflection is that they underestimated the transition challenge and thus, were not well prepared. If senior leaders feel that way, how do we best prepare those in our charge?”

Transitioned senior leaders will often advise anyone involved in the transition process go to TAP early and often while also taking advantage of transition opportunities beyond TAP like DoD SkillBridge.

TAP is a statutory based, mandatory program designed to provide structured and formalized core components and a common level of service experience to all transitioning Service members across 185 locations worldwide. TAP’s core components collectively serve as the foundation for a successful military-to-civilian transition.

“TAP is often seen as a check the box type of program, but that really is a narrow perspective and can lead to transition issues down the road and doesn’t encompass the larger purpose of the program,” said Miller.

TAP draw its exigency and relevance from six strategic tenants directly aligned with national security, economic prosperity, military readiness, military retention, leadership imperatives, and a sustainable business model.

- National security and sustaining the All-Volunteer Force: Successful, visible, and active veterans who reach their potential and strengthen their communities are the most impactful, effective, and strategic message for sustaining the All-Volunteer force.

- Economic prosperity: Veteran unemployment, under-employment, and under-education are generational decrements to our national economy.

- Military readiness: higher rates of veteran employment reduces DoD Unemployment Veteran Compensation costs, freeing resources for operational requirements (>$950M in 2011; ~200M in 2019 = >$700M per year for operational requirements).

- Military retention and Reserve and Guard affiliation: The military services are highly competitive employers of choice through allowing service members to continue military service and giving them flexibility in navigating between civilian and their military careers.

- Leadership imperatives: Embracing the strategic value of military service throughout the service member and veteran life-cycle is a leadership responsibility; a sound and sustainable business practice, an ethical, moral, and legal imperative; and quite simply, the right thing to do.

- Sustainable business model: The All-Volunteer Force provides our nation’s employers and institutions of higher learning with a steady, predictable, and available talent pool of over 200,000 transitioning service members every year positioned to significantly enhance the nation’s competitive posture in workforce/student planning, diversity goals, productivity, and results.

“TAP is just the beginning of transition, but it holds more weight than a standard check the box” said Miller.

When advising transitioning service members, Miller recommended to senior advisors that they speak to the value of TAP and the importance of owning transition. “Your transition is a mission. Your command team, TAP counselors, employers, and numerous stakeholders are ready to help, but it is your transition and you must own it,” he concluded.

INFORMATION ON THE MILITARY-CIVILIAN TRANSITION OFFICE:

The DoD Military-Civilian Transition Office (MCTO) formed as a result of a merger between two DoD programs under the Defense Human Resources Activity’s Defense Personnel and Family Support Center to provide streamlined services to members of the armed forces and their families.

The Office for Reintegration Programs (ORP) combined with the DoD’s Transition to Veterans Program Office (TVPO) to efficiently deliver resources to transitioning service members, members of the National Guard and Reserve, their families and communities worldwide in January 2020.

MCTO has policy-oversight over the Transition Assistance Program.

*indicates government contract support

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