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A Purposeful Transition

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A Purposeful Transition

By: Chairman’s Office of Reintegration, The Joint Staff

The Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provides contemporary and relevant information, tools, and training to ensure Service GRAPHIC ARTISTS members are prepared for civilian life. Across the ( VNFPs), philanthropic organizations, and social services organizations that provide transition and reintegration services to veterans and their families. More than 40,000 of these organizations offer supportive services to transitioning Service members and veterans. While these efforts offer great potential for easing the challenges inherent in transitioning from the military, knowing where to start and successfully navigating the supportive services offered by these organizations is daunting.

While no maps exist to assist you in navigating through this patchwork of private-sector support, there are waypoints. This article illuminates some of those waypoints, making it easier for transitioning service members to plan a purposeful transition from military service.


The single most important thing a Service member can do to prepare for a successful transition from service is to take ownership of it. A significant amount of your transition planning should be spent thinking through what you want to be and do as a civilian. While your veteran identity will remain a key aspect of your life, it should not define you. Identify your personal and professional goals after your military service; realize your goals may change over time as you develop a clearer understanding of who you are and what you hope to accomplish. In an earlier article published on the blog Task and Purpose ( the-joint-chiefs-office-do-these-5-things-when- transitioning-to-civilian-life) ̧ we offered several recommendations on steps service members can take to understand the field, craft and execute a realistic plan, and successfully reintegrate into a civilian community ready to embrace the values and skills that characterize military service.


Veterans return to communities, and it is in those communities that they will find a new career, a home, and renewed sense of purpose. Connecting to people who live in your new community is critical to your ability to complete a successful transition from Service member to veteran. Recognizing the importance of these community connections and finding a renewed sense of purpose following military service, veterans who preceded you have established multiple organizations to help you make these connections.

Some examples include Team Red White and Blue, The Mission Continues, Iraq-Afghanistan Veterans of America, Team Rubicon, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the USO.


Recognizing that veterans and their families will often have multiple transition-related needs when they arrive in their new community, VNFPs and communities have recently come together to establish integrated community support networks. While numerous models of these networks exist, the basic premise behind each is the delivery of veteran support services through an integrated and networked system of public sector and private sector service providers in the local community that collectively provide holistic support to transitioning service members
and veterans as they reintegrate into communities.

Through the collective impact of the network members working together to serve the needs of veterans and their families, these community networks are able to rapidly connect veterans and their families to the assistance that they need as they transition into their new community. While these networks do not exist in every community, their numbers are growing rapidly as their efficacy increases. Some examples of these integrated community support networks include America’s Warrior Partnership (americaswarriorpartnership. org/mission), America Serves (america-, Vets’ Community Connections (, and Mission United (


Given that a Google search for “veteran transition support” will yield nearly 64 million search results, it’s easy to see how using the Internet to find assistance can be challenging and frustrating. The good news is that several user-friendly portals have emerged to help veterans access assistance through the World Wide Web. Although these portals utilize different models ranging from social media-integrated map-based search tools to locality-specific curated content, they help filter much of the noise that will crowd out useful information in a typical Web-based search. Use of these portals can not only assist transitioning service members and veterans find valuable information with less effort, more importantly, they connect service members and veterans directly to organizations that provide the assistance service members and veterans need to connect to their new communities.

Some examples of these portals include Veterans Network of Care (, Unite of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes Dashboard (, as well as the community-specific portals established by the integrated community support networks mentioned above.

As mentioned, there are numerous public and private organizations at the national, state, and local levels ready to assist veterans and their families as they return to communities. The examples outlined above are just a few of those entities that assist transitioning service members with: taking charge of transition, connecting with a local veteran organization, accessing a veteran support network, and gaining knowledge through a veteran support portal. The ability
to effectively navigate through these waypoints will enhance the transition from uniform to a civilian community.

At the end of the day, purposeful transition is accomplished by understanding what one needs,
and knowing where to go to find the resources necessary to achieve success. The ability of our nation and communities to provide services required for a successful reintegration has a direct impact on the past, present, and future military member. Our qualitative military edge on the globe is derived from the strength of our all-volunteer force, we must work collectively with both public and private organizations to exceed reintegration needs, to inspire the future all-volunteer force, and to spark a purposeful transition. Only then, by working together, will we achieve organized serendipity.