Military to civilian; are you career ready

Mrs. Heidi Bearden, Airman and Family Readiness program manager, 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard explains to Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke the importance and impact of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for returning veterans after 180-day deployment with no awaiting jobs, during his site visit at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Aug. 21, 2013. The wing is one of two TAP hubs in the Nation with the other located in Phoenix, Arizona. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

Mrs. Heidi Bearden, Airman and Family Readiness program manager, 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard explains to Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke the importance and impact of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for returning veterans after 180-day deployment with no awaiting jobs, during his site visit at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Aug. 21, 2013. The wing is one of two TAP hubs in the Nation with the other located in Phoenix, Arizona. (Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert/released)

NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas -- The Air National Guard Transition Assistance Program (TAP) hosted more than 1,250 service members from all branches of the US military transitioning from active duty back to the civilian work force here at the 136th Airlift Wing Family Readiness Group since January 2013.

"We just had a class finish this March 7," said Ms. Heidi Bearden, Family Readiness Program manager, 136th Airlift Wing. "We had a lot of positive reviews from the service members who attended the program. Our next class will be set for April 21-25."

What is TAP? The purpose is to provide service members transitioning from active military service the tools to apply their experiences on active duty to the civilian world. Only service members who have completed 180-continuous days or more on Title 10 orders on or after Oct. 1, 2012 qualify for the free program.

TAP is designed to provide individual assessment and counseling to include a deactivation checklist, individual transition plan, a five-day curriculum of financial planning, veteran's benefits and services, an employment workshop assisting in resume writing, interviewing skills and dressing for success. TAP also offers three additional two-day classes including; Boots to business (Entrepreneur Class), Higher Education (process of choosing a college, applying for college and paying for college) and finally a vocational/technical track.

"Currently, the 136AW is the only ANG TAP hub base location in the Nation," said Bearden. "Our classroom has state of the art computers and can hold up to 48 people per session. We have been averaging about 38 service members per class."

Service members who are near an active duty installation are encouraged to attend locally, but due to the high demand for the program some active duty installations are not able to accommodate ANG members in a timely manner. Therefore the ANG hub offers availability of classes once a month.

"TAP has been in existence for nearly 20 years however this is the first major overhaul of the program," said Bearden. "In 2011 the president signed the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act which mandated TAP across services. We hosted our first class in January 2013."

TAP was developed with Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor, Small Business Administration, Office of Personnel Management, Department of Education and the Services to fulfill the responsibility to properly prepare and support service members being "career ready" as they transition from the uniform to the civilian world.

"The program's benefit is in giving the service members the tools to succeed in the civilian world," concluded Bearden.