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The Military’s Transition Programs Are Under-Delivering Support To Service Members

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The Military’s Transition Programs Are Under-Delivering Support To Service Members

Those behind Transition Assistance Programs are disconnected from the troops they’re supposed to help, and it’s setting new veterans up for failure.

Story By Ben Nussbaumer on October 8, 2015

Every service member shares two experiences over the course of their military career: the transition from civilian life into the military and the transition from the military back to civilian life. Running off the bus to the yellow footprints and picking up discharge papers are both ingrained in memories; yet the transition out of service remains overlooked. To the detriment of service members, the military has under delivered with its transition programs. I recognized this issue during the transition course I attended in 2012 as a Marine at Camp Pendleton — the same year that the Pentagon’s unemployment insurance expenses nearly reached $2 billion.

The armed forces’ formal transition program has been called by a number of names over the years, but it is best known by its previous name, Transition Assistance Program. Whatever the name, transition programs in their current iteration fail the people they are designed to help.

The main contributors to transition seminars are the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Problems arise here as the different agencies are assigned responsibility for different aspects of the transition program. For example, the Defense Department is the lead agency on the two-day “Accessing Higher Education” option even though VA administers the benefits program once the service member takes their uniform off. The “Accessing Higher Education” module is supposed to familiarize service members with the college admissions process and help them with school and degree program selection. Though the Department of Defense received some assistance from the Department of Education in building the curriculum, the agency with only a tenable connection to higher education is entrusted to guide the 40% of transitioning service members that elect to take this option.

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