Transforming TAPS TO TRANSITION GPS

Last summer, President Obama delivered a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. President Obama discussed re-vamping the Transition Assistance Program (TAPS). The new program called Transition GPS will soon offer new veterans departing the military more robust transition services. TAPS has long provided service members with information regarding benefits as well as workshops on career options and job search skills.

The re-designed Transition Assistance Program that has been developed by the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force. The re-vamped program will help Veterans transition to the civilian workforce, start a new business or obtain additional education. On Monday July 23, 2012 President Obama signed into law H.R. 4155, the “Veterans Skills Jobs Act”. The law requires Federal agencies when considering applicants for Federal licensure or certification, to consider relevant training that applicants may have received during service in the Armed Forces.

Transition GPS. is the first major overhaul of TAPS in 20 years. Transition GPS will enhance career opportunities for service members. Members of the armed forces have developed extraordinary technical expertise and world-class leadership skills while serving in the military. The Transition GPS program will better ensure that veterans today and in the future will receive the care and benefits they have earned.

Transition GPS is designed to strengthen, expand counseling and guidance for service members before leaving the military. Transition GPS will transform the military’s approach to education, training and credentialing for departing service members.

Transition GPS will be thoroughly implemented by the end of 2013. The re-vamped Transition Assistance program will:

•Extend the current three-day transition program to five to seven days
•Offer individual assessment and counseling, including an individual transition plan with an emphasis on Education benefits for servicemembers.
•Include a re-designed workshop offered by the Department of Labor
•Include a “Military Occupational Code Cross walk” so that veterans can translate their military skills, training, and experience into civilian occupations, credentials and employment
•Include optional training specific to pursuing higher education or technical skills and training
•Include a “capstone” event that verifies that the transitioning service member has completed Transition GPS curriculum and achieved Career Readiness Standards
•Create a “Military Life Cycle Transition Model” that will span the entire career of a service member

It is a responsibility of the government to properly prepare and support our military service members to transition to the civilian workforce. The Transition GPS will aid service members find their place in civilian society. Transition GPS will also emphasize and provide Veteran Entrepreneur Training for Veterans wanting to start their own business. Starting their own business is an excellent option for Veterans to use their skills, training and get the mission done mindset. Future Veteran Business Owners should also check out www.vamboa.org, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association.

MilitaryConnection.com is a supporter of Transition GPS. We are proud to provide the Military Skills Translator on our site as another resource in the arsenal for service members transitioning from military to civilian life.

-MilitaryConnection staff writer Carol Miraula.

Run For The Wall – Ride For Those Who Can’t

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RUN FOR THE WALL
(We Ride For Those Who Can’t)
May 15–May 25, 2013

Run For The Wall recognizes the sacrifices and contributions made by all Veterans who have served our nation. Veterans of recent conflicts and those currently on active duty are welcome to join us as we ride for those who cannot. By joining or supporting Run For The Wall, you participate in our mission which is to promote healing among all Veterans, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world.

Run For The Wall also known as RFTW or The Run, was started in 1989 as an effort by a couple of Vietnam Veterans who traveled across the heartland of America on motorcycles, talking to local media about the fact that we have many men and women still unaccounted for from all of our wars. The need for this awareness continues, so we maintain this tradition every May. We don’t give political speeches or stage demonstrations. RFTW emphasizes its message by traveling through the United States in a safe and orderly manner. We obey traffic laws and treat all citizens with respect.

The issues of public awareness are only part of the benefit of RFTW. We give all Veterans the opportunity to get their own “Welcome Home” and start the healing process. Everyone who has fought or has friends/loved ones who have fought in a war have their own issues: the welcome home, the good-bye to buddies lost, or just trying to accept coming home alive. Many who participate in RFTW find that whatever they’ve been missing can be found within the RFTW family.

There is a registration fee to participate in RFTW, and everyone pays their own travel expenses. We are a 501(c3) not-for-profit organization which accepts tax-deductible donations. Some meals are donated and others are provided for a small contribution to local citizen organizations. We have generous groups and individuals who, on occasion, have paid for gas and lodging for our participants.

RFTW takes ten days to reach Washington, DC, arriving on Memorial Day weekend. Events scheduled include a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, the RFTW participants’ photo at the Lincoln Memorial, and the walk together to the Vietnam Wall. Many RFTW riders participate in Rolling Thunder’s “Ride For Freedom” on Sunday.

Along our routes RFTW riders visit Veterans Medical Centers, Veterans’ Memorials, Veterans’ Outreach Facilities, VFW’s, American Legion Posts, community centers and schools. We enjoy parades, escorts, and welcome-home receptions from many patriotic Americans. The ages of the participants range from “eight to eighty!” These include: mothers, fathers, grandparents, as well as many Gold Star and Blue Star families. All patriotic Americans, not just Veterans, are welcome to participate in RFTW.

Some people join RFTW and think of it as just another vacation or motorcycle event. After one or two days though, they realize this is something very special. It is unlike anything else they have experienced, and it becomes a MISSION. They become part of the RFTW family whose members come from the United States, Canada, Australia, as well as other countries.

In May 2013, RFTW will celebrate 25 years of helping Veterans and their families. For more detailed information and the exact routes, please visit our website. We invite everyone to come join us.

The official Run For The Wall website is: www.rftw.org.

Veteran Students Have Special Needs

Colleges seem to be adept at recruiting veterans but are they adept at serving veterans?  Are colleges taking steps to aid veterans as they face tremendous obstacles in their path of attaining a college degree?

After World War II, many U.S. veterans returned home and decided to attend college.  The GI Bill is still an incentive for the majority of those enlisting in the military.

Colleges that enroll military veterans need to have the resources, support and advocacy for military veterans to succeed in higher education and the ability to ensure they will graduate. Many colleges are unprepared to deal with the unique needs of former service members.  Without special attention many student veterans will fail to graduate.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill gives they the opportunity to do something that is constructive for their minds.  A college degree gives them a mission and allows them to move forward in life.

Strategies do exist that help keep veterans in school.  They are specialized orientation programs, helping veterans connect with one another, training faculty and staff on challenges veterans face that offer more counseling and financial aid.  However, surveys show that many schools are lacking in such efforts.

Veteran students receive lower levels of campus support than non-veterans.  Veterans are transitioning from a regimented environment to a college environment where there is less direction. A course to help veterans adjust to the classroom, learn about programs and share their experiences with other students might be beneficial.

Veterans are used to a structured environment where they are given orders and they follow them.  Veterans need more supervision and follow through from their counselors. Academic support programs and services, like veteran-focused tutoring, advising, mentoring and counseling are needed.  Programs should provide specific advice for veterans.

Student veterans that are supported by their colleges and universities attain higher grades and higher graduation rates that their peers.  More than 500,000 veterans have used the benefits offered to them through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  That number will probably rise as more troops come home.  Some 300,000 members of the military transition back to civilian life every year.

Those making the transition are faced with a disconcerting veteran unemployment rate, particularly for the youngest group of veterans. Veterans without a degree face even more daunting barriers since the unemployment rate for high school graduates is generally about twice that of college graduates.

Operation College Promise (OCP) is a policy, research and information program supporting the postsecondary education advancement of service members and veterans of the United States armed Forces.  OCP is developing the first multi-state, cross-institutional Veterans’ Graduation Probability Indexes (GPI) to analyze the progress of student veterans.  The GPI will provide the ongoing assessment of the progress of veteran students.   It is designed to begin the process of reviewing progress toward graduation.

It is one thing to get a veteran student to a college campus, but if that veteran student doesn’t receive support services they will not get a degree.  That would be a tragic loss for those who have served the United States with their lives on the line.

Authored by MilitaryConnection.com Staff Writer Carol Miraula.