WASHINGTON â€” A redesigned program for service members separating from the military will help veterans better apply the experience theyâ€™ve gained in uniform, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.
President Barack Obama announced the revamped program, called â€œTransition GPS,â€ in a speech Monday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Reno, Nev.
â€œI applaud the leadership of President Obama to bring together government agencies around the goal of enhancing career opportunities for service members,â€ Panetta said in a statement. â€œOur personnel have developed extraordinary technical expertise and world-class leadership skills that are in high demand. Transition GPS will help military members apply their experience to additional training, formal education, and develop successful civilian careers.â€
Transition GPS is the first major overhaul of the militaryâ€™s Transition Assistance Program in nearly 20 years, White House officials said. TAP was developed by an interagency team from the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Education and Homeland Security, as along with the Office of Personnel and Management and the Small Business Administration.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said the redesign will better ensure that veterans today and in the future will receive the care and benefits they have earned.
â€œOne of our fundamental responsibilities as a government is to properly prepare and support those serving in our military so they are career ready as they transition back into civilian life,â€ he said. â€œThis collaborative effort will have an impact well beyond this current generation of individuals returning from combat.â€
The redesign is being developed by the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force created in August to help separating service members successfully transition to the civilian workforce, start a business, or pursue higher education.
TAP consisted of pre-separation counseling and a voluntary, three-day workshop from the departments of Labor, Defense and Veterans Affairs that was presented at selected military installations and attended by nearly half of the service members who separated from the services each year, White House officials said. Transition GPS is designed to strengthen, standardize and expand counseling and guidance for service members before leaving the military, and transform the militaryâ€™s approach to education, training, and credentialing, they added.
Transition GPS is to be implemented throughout the military by the end of 2013. It will:
- Extend the current three-day transition program to five to seven days;
- Offer individual assessment and counseling, including an individual transition plan;
- Include a five-day curriculum of financial planning, available veteransâ€™ benefits and services and a redesigned employment workshop;
- Include a â€œMilitary Occupational Code Crosswalkâ€ to translate military skills, training and experiences into civilian occupations and credentialing;
- Include optional training specific to pursuing higher education, technical skills and training, or starting a business;
- Include a â€œcapstoneâ€ event to verify that the participant is career-ready;
- Give a â€œwarm handoverâ€ to appropriate government agencies and organizations for continued benefits, services and support of veterans; and
- Create a â€œMilitary Life Cycle Transition Modelâ€ to incorporate career readiness and transition preparation early into a service memberâ€™s career.