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AFRC class helps servicemembers transition to civilian life

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- David Clay, who is now separated from the military, attends the Transition Assistance Program at the Airman and Family Readiness Center here Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007. The TAP class helps separating military members organize their plans to prepare them for civilian life. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- David Clay, who is now separated from the military, attends the Transition Assistance Program at the Airman and Family Readiness Center here Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007. The TAP class helps separating military members organize their plans to prepare them for civilian life. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Regardless of the direction servicemembers take after separating from the military, the Airman and Family Readiness Center here provides a service to active duty members called the Transition Assistance Program.

Backed by congress and facilitated by the Department of Labor, TAP is designed to meet the needs of separating servicemembers during their transition from the military to the civilian sector.

"Like I always say, it's easy to take a man or woman out of the military, but it's hard to take the military out of them," said Linda Crowder, the TAP program manager at Vandenberg's AFRC.

The AFRC hosts the four-day TAP class during the first week of every month. Classes typically fill up quickly, meeting the occupant capacity of 25 servicemembers per class.

During the TAP class, attendees learn about conducting job searches, career decision-making skills, the current occupational and labor market conditions, resume writing and interviewing techniques. The class also informs its participants about the most current vetrans' benefits and assesses their employability relative to the job market.

"The longer someone has been in the service, the less likely they have had much experience applying for jobs, keeping their resumes updated or even planning for career moves," Ms. Crowder said. "TAP provides servicemembers with self-confidence they need, a workable plan and a group of people they can network with."

No matter what goals a person has planned for post-retirement, the TAP class can be beneficial.

"You can only be successful with knowledge and the help of other people; fear of the unknown can be paralyzing," said Master Sgt. Katherine Stewart, Vandenberg's Individual Mobilization Augmentee administrator. "The TAP class really made a difference in my confidence level. Retirement is a big step and you can't make it happen in a vacuum. For me, the interaction and experience of others in the class opened my eyes to possibilities I would have never considered before."

Although the TAP class is meant for separating active-duty members, the AFRC staff also encourages servicemembers to bring their spouses with them. Communicating and planning for post-military life together is important, Ms. Crowder said.

"Family members of separating servicemembers often feel a sense of loss during the transition period because they are accustomed to the military way of life," she said. "Transitioning from the military is a family decision, and the TAP class can help guide families to make informed decisions about what is best for the entire family."

For more information about Vandenberg's TAP class, or to register, call the AFRC at 606-0039.