Leaving military service and heading into the civilian sector can be challenging. For some, the military may be the only thing they know professionally. As the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, coupled with tightening military budgets, the military is projected to cut more than 100,000 billets from all service branches.
With national unemployment hovering near nine percent and veteran unemployment figures higher, “We have to do everything we can to keep that number down,” said Col. John Stack, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart commander. “Our troops served their country, and we need to help them get ready for the next chapter of their lives.”
Defense Department officials have identified the issues associated with transitioning out of the military, and have implemented a new plan to help.
Department of the Army Executive Order 054-12 implemented the Veterans Opportunity to Work, or VOW, Act. The VOW Act was designed to reduce the number of unemployed veterans and to decrease the stress on service members caused by having inadequate time to transition from military service to the civilian sector. A redesigned Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, debuts in USAG Stuttgart Nov. 27.
The program will include a one-day interactive Veterans Assistance briefing, a three-day Department of Labor workshop and a day each of Army Career and Alumni Program and financial planning briefings. The redesigned TAP will normally take place over six duty days, within a two-week period. The sessions will normally be conducted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on consecutive weeks.
The new executive order also requires commanders to work closely with the ACAP office to ensure service members enter the program no later than 12 months before their scheduled transition date or immediately upon unscheduled separations. Commanders must also ensure service members receive counseling and create Individual Transition Plans.
The overseas program will differ slightly from those offered stateside, as many of the programs there include external resources. Although other services have their own implementation orders for the new program, the end product will ultimately be the same, allowing Sailors, Marines and Airmen to attend the briefings given by the Army, and vice versa.
While Soldiers have priority for seats in the Stuttgart program, Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel may contact the Stuttgart ACAP office if they are interested in attending the Stuttgart program on a space-available basis.
The new VOW facility in Building 2915 on Panzer Kaserne will be able to accommodate up to 25 people per cycle. Officials from the USAG Stuttgart Directorate of Human Resources expect they should be able to assist everyone eligible for the program without issue.