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Tapped for Success

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Beginnings can be scary, but Robins Air Force Base's service members don't have to face them alone.

Retiring Airmen and people separating from military service have the Transition Assistance Program in the Airman & Family Readiness Center to give them guidance as they journey into their life's next chapter.

Julie Thompson, A&FRC's Transition Assistance Program core compliance expert, said TAP provides information, tools, and training to ensure service members and their spouses are prepared for the next step in civilian life - whether pursuing additional education, finding a job in the public or private sector, or starting their own business.

"The redesigned TAP is the result of an interagency collaboration to offer separating service members and their spouses better, more easily accessible resources and information to make their transitions more successful," she said.

TAP refers to all of the transition requirements military members must meet before leaving service, Thompson added.

"There are three main requirements that all service members must complete before separating or retiring from the military," she said.

One requirement is a three and a half-hour pre-separation briefing which informs attendees of benefits, information and available resources.

Thompson said the Transition, Goals, Plans and Successes workshop, commonly called TAP GPS, is also required for those leaving military service.

"It's a five-day workshop which includes the mandatory Veteran's Administration benefits and the Department of Labor workshop," she said. "If a service member meets one of the exemptions from the workshop, he or she can be exempt from days one through four of the workshop." 

Exemptions include full-time confirmed employment, full-time confirmed enrollment in school, or 20-plus years retiring. The VA Benefits briefing, the fifth day of the workshop, is mandatory for everyone. The third requirement is capstone, Thompson said.

Tiffany Englehart, a Community Readiness specialist in A&FRC, said the capstone requirement is a new feature of TAP.

"A transition counselor will meet individually with the retiring or separating service member to verify that career readiness standards are met," she said. "Items such as a
12-month post separation budget, Individual Transition Plan, Resume and Gap Analysis will be verified. The member's commander will then sign the form before returning the form to the A&FRC." 

Military members don't need orders or need to be committed to leaving military service to attend TAP.

"Someone retiring should attend up to two years out, " said Lynette Callich, Community Readiness specialist in the A&FRC. "A separating service member should attend up to one year out. We also welcome spouses to attend all of the TAP workshops. All transition requirements should be completed at least 90 days prior to their separation/retirement date."

In addition to TAP'S mandatory elements, there are three, two-day tracks, that transitioning personnel can participate in:

Accessing Higher Education is geared toward individuals interested in pursuing education at an accredited academic institution (offered monthly);

Career Technical Training Track is for personnel interested in pursuing further technical training in careers requiring a licensure or certification (offered every other month); and

Entrepreneurship Training Track is for those interested in pursuing self-employment in the private or nonprofit sector

The TGPS workshop curriculum is standardized from one base to the next. The curriculum is also standardized across the service branches. 

The A&FRC staff kicks off the workshop by teaching day one.  Days 2 through 4 are taught by the Department of Labor. Day 5 is taught by VA advisors.

If service members attend one of the optional workshops, they'll be taught by the Base Education instructors (Higher Education Track), VA Benefits Advisors (Career Technical Training Track), and Small Business Development Corporation (Entrepreneur Training Track).