WASHINGTON, D.C. — Transitioning soldiers and their spouses have a trove of experience and insight to offer civilian employers, say Army experts.
Part of being a successful soldier is not only being successful after the Army, said Col. Adam L. Rocke, director of the Army’s Soldier for Life program, but becoming a community leader and an ambassador for the Army. Rocke was part of a panel that discussed issues facing transitioning soldiers and spouses, particularly employment, at the second Family Forum at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 14.
“We’re preparing you at some point to transition out of the service, whether it’s a first term, or for a soldier like myself, who has been in for 30 years,” he said. “We all transition. We want you to be ready for that transition, so we provide you things along the way to do that.”
He pointed out that the Army has recently refined and renamed its transition program, turning the Army Career and Alumni Program into Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance Program, or TAP. Services start at least 12 months before separation — 24 months for retiring soldiers — and are now required.
“Whether you need to go to TAP or not, you should go down and visit TAP,” he said. “There are over 700 counselors. There are improved services, a partnership with the Department of Labor, Veterans Affairs and the Small Business Administration — all there to help service members and their spouses and dependents for a successful transition.”
Army spouses are now eligible for the program as well, Rocke said. He works closely with Noreen O’Neill, an Army spouse and director of the Military Spouse Program at Hiring Our Heroes, a program run by the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation, to connect spouses with employers at specialized networking events and summits.