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Transition assistance available to those leaving military service

After a small-group discussion on identifying and overcoming the stresses of military separation or retirement, Laura Johnston talks about their group’s topic during an April 23 Transition Assistance Program in Tinker’s Airman and Family Readiness Center. Ms. Johnston is a Navy chief petty officer stationed at Fort Meade, Md., and will move to Oklahoma with her retired Navy husband in September after she retires.  The TAP helps military members smooth the rough edges off the transition back into civilian life by offering resources and advice on a host of topics from job hunting, resumé writing, finances and how to reduce stress transitioning into a new life. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

After a small-group discussion on identifying and overcoming the stresses of military separation or retirement, Laura Johnston talks about their group’s topic during an April 23 Transition Assistance Program in Tinker’s Airman and Family Readiness Center. Ms. Johnston is a Navy chief petty officer stationed at Fort Meade, Md., and will move to Oklahoma with her retired Navy husband in September after she retires. The TAP helps military members smooth the rough edges off the transition back into civilian life by offering resources and advice on a host of topics from job hunting, resumé writing, finances and how to reduce stress transitioning into a new life. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Military personnel in the Tinker area who are mustering out of uniform have access to free professional advice on how to secure a job in this tough economic environment.
For example, Steven L. Auld of the 72nd Force Support Squadron, a Community Readiness Consultant with the Airman & Family Readiness Center, coordinated an Employment Relocation Benefit workshop last month for a group of Navy personnel at Tinker whose jobs were eliminated in a budget downsizing.

In addition, a CRC is working closely with Tinker's 3rd Combat Communications Group, which is being inactivated. "She attends their staff meetings and commanders' calls," Mr. Auld said. "We will support the '3rd Herd' with a wide range of programs as needed."
Through the Transition Assistance Program, Mr. Auld and his co-workers at the A&FRC lend a hand to active-duty and retired Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel, as well as Guardsmen and Reservists.

TAP has five major components, Mr. Auld related: pre-separation counseling, Department of Labor employment workshops, Veterans' Affairs benefits briefings, the Disabled Transition Assistance Program, and one-on-one counseling. Participation in TAP is available to service members and their spouses within 12 months of separating or 24 months of retirement, Mr. Auld said.

This week Mr. Auld coordinated a TAP workshop that focused primarily on getting a job and featured a variety of courses led by Jerry Melton from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. Classes included performing a personal appraisal, career exploration, strategies for an effective job search, creating an effective resumé, how to write job application cover letters, how to handle a job interview, reviewing job offers, and salary negotiations.

Shelby Satterfield of the State Education Department gave a presentation on participating in the "troops to teachers" program, and Harold Baade from the Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center provided suggestions on how to establish a small business after leaving military service.

In addition, representatives were on hand to advise retirees about survivors' benefit plans, Tri-Care medical benefits, Veterans Affairs benefits, the DTAP, and the Montgomery GI Bill.

During some TAP programs, Mr. Auld invites a handful of metro-area employers to meet with the seminar participants during a working lunch, to discuss job opening they may have or anticipate having in the near future, the types of skills their employees need to have, etc.

In a related matter, Mr. Auld is a conduit between employers and job seekers. When an employer sends him a job announcement, he e-mails it to his distribution list of service members who have or are about to separate or retire from active duty and are trying to get a job.

For individuals who are separating from active duty, the A&FRC regularly provides courses on how to sell a home. "We also team with Tinker Federal Credit Union and First National Bank to provide a variety of personal financial management classes that are open to our separating military personnel," Mr. Auld said. They also provide one-on-one personal financial counseling when requested, he added.

"We help any way we can to provide resources that military personnel and their families need to ensure a smooth transition back to civilian life after separation from military service," Mr. Auld said.