Moody Transition Assistance Program opens new horizons

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rachel Coates
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

When separating or retiring, exploring new opportunities outside of the military can be daunting. Thankfully, the Air Force has designed a program to help Airmen navigate this big life change.

The 23rd Force Support Squadron (FSS) Military and Family Readiness Center (MFRC) Transition Assistance Program (TAP), provides support and facilitation to separating or retiring service members and their spouses to prepare them for the transition from an active-duty to civilian life.

“It’s important to set up service members and their families to be successful when they transition from service,” said Jacqueline Chatman, 23rd FSS MFRC TAP manager. “I don’t know of any other job that helps people transition out of their job. We walk everybody through everything from finances, to voting, to tax changes.”

Mandated by congress, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, requires all service members to complete the initial counseling and pre-separation counseling components of TAP no later than 365 days prior to their date of separation (DOS) or date of retirement (DOR).

The program also mandates a four-day transition workshop and a final capstone that altogether sets the groundwork for exploring job opportunities, resume writing, Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, tips for interviews and more.

“I know it might seem like a lot, but people need direction,” Chatman said. “We give them the initial counseling, take the information they’re saying and help devise a plan for them - it helps set the foundation.”

The TAP course is mandatory and the sooner service members start the process, the easier it will be to digest, Chatman stressed.

“It’s so much easier when you start early and break it down into more manageable pieces,” she said. “Making this type of transition is not as easy as people might think. The life they’ll live on the other side is not the same as the military side – it’s totally different. Without a plan, they’re just jumping straight into the deep end … and it’s my job to make sure they don’t sink.”

As a participant of the program, Staff Sgt. Travis Bookert, 23rd Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, expressed why he believes it’s valuable.

“I think the classes have been beneficial,” Bookert said. “I can’t speak for everyone else, but the VA benefits are really important to learn. I’ve been away from the civilian world for six years and this class has helped me remember things and helped me see the changes that have taken place while I’ve been in.”

Service members have an array of options they may not be aware of. The program allows Airmen to gain transactional knowledge on the resources the military has designed for them to succeed when leaving their service.

“When people raise their hand and join the military, we as a military say that we’re going to take care of them for their whole career, so it would be bad for us to turn our backs on people when we said we’d be committed to (them),” Chatman added about supporting Airmen through their transition. “I want people to walk away and say they enjoyed the program and took something from it. I want to feel good that when they walk out of the door, I feel confident that they can be successful in everything they do.”

To learn more about the classes and workshops available, call 229-257-3333.