Transition GPS arms Airmen for life outside military

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Corey Parrish, photo/Andy Morataya)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Corey Parrish, photo/Andy Morataya)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- In these times of fiscal restraint and force drawbacks, the time to explore options and potentially prepare for a life outside of the military is here.

Luckily, the Airman and Family Readiness Center offers a course to aid Airmen in the switch from active duty service to being a member of the civilian workforce.

The Transition Goals, Plans and Success program, formally known as the Transition Assistance Program, is a mandated program for all members leaving the service. It consists of a pre-separation informative briefing on members' benefits and is followed by a five-day course.

According to Liz Bland, 52nd Force Support Squadron A&FRC transition manager, the Transition GPS curriculum includes a financial planning seminar, a veterans' benefits and services workshop offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and an employment workshop offered by the Department of Labor.

"Everything we do in the Transition GPS program is interactive--it isn't listening to lectures for 32 hours," Bland said. "Attendees are working on their resumes, budgets, researching employment sites and the job market. This is a program where they can take what they've learned and step out and go home and utilize it."

On the first day of the course, representatives from the travel management, finance, Tricare and education offices as well as a reserve recruiter give extensive briefings to cover the benefits that are available and aid in processing out of the military.

The bulk of the course consists of the three-day employment workshop.

"The workshop provided us with various resources to help us be successful outside of the Air Force," said Airman Derrick Hogans, 52nd Medical Operations Squadron Aerospace Medical technician and recent participant. "I got the most out of the mock interviews, job search skills and resume building."

On the last day, TAP presenters give a briefing on all veteran benefits service members are entitled to under the Veterans' Affairs program.

In addition to the five-day course, transitioning service members also have the opportunity to participate in a series of two-day tracks within the Transition GPS curriculum: an education track, for those pursuing a higher education degree; a technical and skills training track, for those seeking job-ready skills and industry-recognized credentials in shorter-term training programs; and an entrepreneurship track, for those wanting to start a business.

Bland, who served in the Navy years ago, says the new Transition GPS program more effective now than ever before.

"Having stood in their shoes, being able to help members is very rewarding knowing that the program is solid," she said.

The Transition program has been recently remapped since the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011.

"The DoD felt military members were not being properly prepared to separate from the military," Bland said. "We spend thousands of dollars taking these individuals in and training them through basic, technical schools, and on-the-job to teach them how to be successful in the military throughout their careers. But in the past, little time was spent on preparing members with the tools needed to be successful in the civilian sector."

Outside of the increase in separations and retirements due to force management, members are encouraged to attend the transition process two years before retiring and one year before separation, Bland added. Spouses are also highly encouraged to attend as this life change affects them as well.

"This program, in my opinion, is one of the best the Air Force has to offer," Hogans said. "Currently with cutbacks in the military being such a hot topic, this program offers not only the tools to help military members convert back into the civilian sector, but also a sense of relief from the stress of sudden change. I really took a lot out of the program in preparation for my life outside of the military."


Due to the force management initiative, the A&FRC has been busy preparing the increased number of service members separating and retiring. To help accommodate as many people as possible, the Transition GPS workshop is now being held twice a month, and two additional Senior Transition GPS workshops for senior enlisted and commissioned have been added to the schedule.


"We realize a lot of people are nervous right now with the uncertainty of force management," Bland said. "But we want everyone to know about the resources we offer. I would encourage service members to be to be proactive. Do your research. Find out what's available."

For more information or to sign up, call the A&FRC at 452-6422 or 0656561-6422.