This is the second in my series of retirement journal blog posts. In case you missed my first article, you can read it here. Although this post isn’t an update on my personal situation, I wanted to cover something that I have been thinking about since I wrote my last post–what TAP looks like now–or at least the pre-separation counseling portion.
If you know people who went through TAP ‘a few years ago,’ you should understand that TAP has completely changed. According to the DoD TAP website, in 2013, DoD redesigned TAP into “a cohesive, modular, outcome-based program that bolsters and standardizes the opportunities, services, and training that Service members receive to better prepare them to pursue their post-military career goals.”
There are three TAP components that each service member is supposed to attend: pre-separation counseling, the 5-day workshop, and the capstone course. Since I’ve only attended pre-separation counseling (referred to as PreSep), I’ll give you an overview. I do have some of the other courses scheduled for later in the year, so I will write separately about them. Since I’m transitioning from MacDill Air Force Base, I will reference their transition assistance website quite frequently…however, since schedules & optional program offerings may differ by location, you should refer to your local transition office’s website.
I attended in October 2015, which is almost two years from my planned September 2017 retirement date, for several reasons. First and foremost, attending as early as possible maximizes your schedule flexibility. Waiting until six months out means that you have a more compressed timeframe to get a bunch of things done, which means you probably will rush through events that require more attention to do properly. I do not want to risk losing benefits or creating a bunch of extra work for myself, so I took the time to go to PreSep earlier. Second, I personally felt like attending PreSep was the first opportunity for me to think about retirement planning in military terms. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what life will look like after the military, but taking an afternoon to attend PreSep helped me mentally review the checklist of all the military-specific items that I need to go through. Finally, it will help me formulate what 2016 should look like. My goal is to accomplish most of my required transition activities (appointments, classes, etc) by the end of 2016, so that I can hit my terminal leave period (hopefully May 1, 2017) with a full focus on my financial planning business. Getting PreSep out of the way helped me identify the other TAP-related events that I should plan for—not just the mandatory course, but the optional programs that are available, such as the Small Business Administration’s Boots to Business class.
What is the purpose of PreSep?
Officially, the real purpose for PreSep is two-fold:
According to Title 10, US Code Section 1142, PreSep is required for all regular service members with at least 180 days of continuous days of active duty, and all eligible deactivating members of the Guard and Reserve, to include Individual Ready Reserve and individual mobilizing augmentees, with 180 cumulative days of service (other than training). MacDill’s AFRC suggests attending PreSep as soon as possible. People who are separating are allowed to attend up to 1 year prior to separation, while retirees can attend up to 2 years in advance.
According to the MacDill AFRC, you should do a couple of things prior to PreSep:
When I tried to follow this, I couldn’t find an ITP in my profile. I’m pretty sure that I have a blank version in the DVD that I received in PreSep, but I have not taken the time to go through it yet and figure it out. I’ll make a note to take some time, go through an ITP, and write an additional post on it later on.
You may want to check with your local office to determine scheduling availability. For example, MacDill only schedules retirement PreSep on Mondays, and separation PreSep on Wednesdays.
What is the Preseparation Counseling Checklist?
The Preseparation Counseling Checklist, or DD-2648, is a comprehensive checklist of ‘resources’ that you can look into regarding employment assistance, relocation, housing, education, mental & physical health, health & life insurance, finances, reserve affiliation, veterans benefits, and legal assistance. You fill out yes or no (as in yes, I would like more information, or no I don’t) for each item in a 5 page checklist. However, I would give you several caveats:
One thing that I learned during PreSep is that there are more offerings through your local office than what is included in Transition GPS. For example, MacDill AFB offers the previously mentioned LinkedIn workshop, which is a two-day course. The takeaways from this course will help military personnel navigate the ins and outs of LinkedIn, and is probably as important as a powerful resume. Take the time to learn a little more about what is available locally.
As always, you can learn more about me at Westchase Financial Planning’s website. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to contact me via email. If there is something you’d like me to write more about, please feel free to let me know. Until next time, take charge of your life!