TAP Eases Transition Burden for Military Personnel

Common sign today

by Ed Mattson


Wednesday I wrote about the Total Assistance Program (TAP) available to military personnel transitioning to civilian life which was developed to help meet the challenges most will face. Part one of the four part program was looking at the mandatory counseling provided.

The second part of TAP is the Department of Labor employment workshops. While the first component of the program is mandatory, attendance in the employment workshops is voluntary for active duty service members and their spouses with the exception of the Marine Corps, which has made attending the workshop mandatory. The curriculum, workshop materials, collection of information, and instructors are all provided by the Department of Labor.

“Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” Winston Churchill

TAP workshops
TAP workshops to assist those leaving the military for civilian life

While part one of the TAP program is general in nature and in essence, an overview setting the stage as to why such a program is necessary, part two gets down to the nitty-gritty. The emphasis is on securing a JOB in a very competitive and difficult marketplace. The place to start is the job search, using personal contacts, job banks, electronic data banks featured on the Internet, and the department of labor resources. The program then addresses the need for an effective resume and writing cover letters targeted to specific job applications. Both issues are critical in getting one’s foot in the door.

Once an interest is created by a potential employer, the next step is to know and understand one’s skills, and how they apply to the job specifications. The military provides some of the best training for many military occupation specialties (MOS), but that may be of little value if they can not be expressed and conveyed to an interviewer. Additionally, many traits one picks up, such as leadership skills and discipline may be overlooked as a distinct advantage over a job applicant without military training, so learning interview techniques has been integrated into the program.

Additional time is spent with those individuals with disabilities to discuss how their “disadvantage” can actually give them an edge in the job securing process.

Finally, for those separating with the loss of a limb or other disability, there may be special employment needs. Additional time is spent with those individuals to discuss how their “disadvantage” can actually give them an edge in the job securing process. Special programs available through non-profit agencies, and overcoming the challenges of a battle wound, might be the best selling tool in one’s arsenal of job skills. Developing an attitude that employing a wounded veteran is good for business doesn’t have to be worn on the shoulder, but it certainly is a fact of life for most employers.

The third component of TAP is the Veterans Administration benefits briefing. While attendance is voluntary for active duty personnel, it is should be emphasized that all should participate. Why? Because life in the civilian world throws curve balls, and the VA often has programs available that address specific obstacles. Consider that the average soldier and sailor paid dearly for their time in service and are entitled to the benefits they earned.

This includes help paying for addition education, vocational rehabilitation, life insurance, burial benefits, dependent survivors’ benefits, home loans, and a healthcare program that is available if the benefit package at the new job is lacking or has any waiting period before it become effective.

Monday we’ll look at the other information provided under the assistance program and then discuss other avenues available to make the transition as easy as possible.


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Following his service in the Marine Corps Ed Mattson built a diverse career in business in both sales/marketing and management. He is a medical research specialist and published author. His latest book is Down on Main Street: Searching for American Exceptionalism Ed is currently Development Director of the National Guard Bureau of International Affairs-State Partnership Program, Fundraising Coordinator for the Warrior2Citizen Project, and Managing Partner of Center-Point Consultants in North Carolina. Mr. Mattson is a noted speaker and has addressed more than 3000 audiences in 42 states and 5 foreign countries. He has been awarded the Order of the Sword by American Cancer Society, is a Rotarian Paul Harris Fellow and appeared on more than 15 radio and television talk-shows.