Advocates have long argued for an overhaul of the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAPs), which briefly covers the basics of preparing the service member’s transition from the military to civilian life. Although every branch has a unique program, it is generally a three-day venture which many say is both too brief and too general. The program hasn’t had any major revisions in over 20 years.
President Obama announced yesterday that the current program will be altered to become a five to seven day “Reverse Boot Camp” which will cover veteran benefits, job skills, personal finances, and individual counseling and assessment, with an optional two-day track to cover employment and education preparation. The new program will be dubbed Transition Goals Planning Success. Swords has been a proponent of such an overhaul, and we are glad that the Obama administration has heard our call to make the necessary changes to help ensure veterans have support in place when they return home to their communities.
Pre-separation mental health assessments have been problematic as many service members simply lie about possible symptoms they may have in order to get home quickly to their families, or simply don’t exhibit symptoms of mental trauma until long after they are separated from the military. Although this is a necessary step in the direction of comprehensive mental health services for transitioning veterans, it is important to provide such support long after separating from the military. Also, employment and education concerns are on the forefront of every transitioning service member’s mind. Although they certainly qualify for many civilian jobs, some service members may not understand how best to explain how skills acquired in the military suit the civilian job. They are also returning to the civilian workforce during a time in which there are simply not enough jobs. Making the optional track which covers employment and education services into a mandatory track would better prepare the new veteran entering a dreary labor market.
Additional information can be found at this article on Stars and Stripes by Leo Shane.
Megan Klein Zottarelli, Policy Analyst
Megan performs research and analysis of legislation, data, and issues related to veterans such as criminal justice, housing, employment, women’s health, etc. Megan helps to create formal summaries and recommendations to lawmakers and key stakeholders to increase access to services and support for veterans and their families. She is especially interested in criminal justice issues among veterans as well as treatment alternatives to incarceration.