CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Soldiers on Camp Arifjan had the rare opportunity to speak to the senior noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Armed Forces about their experience with the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program March, 13.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted adviser to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with the transitioning soldiers during a breakfast and lunch session and also visited the Army Career and Alumni Program center on Camp Arifjan to speak with the staff and view a class in progress.
“The information that we receive from these sessions is extremely valuable,” said Battaglia. “These are the end users and there’s not a better source to go to than those soldiers who are on the receiving end of the information.”
Battaglia, who serves as the principal military adviser to the chairman and the secretary of defense on all matters involving joint and combined total force integration, utilization, health of the force and joint development for enlisted personnel, noted that the TAP is a very important piece to the military lifecycle, and the curriculum has recently been redesigned and enhanced to make it better for service members and their families.
“It’s changed significantly from the time when I grew up and saw the TAP as a young Marine, to the TAP program that I went through when I thought I was actually retiring, to the program that is here now, the transition GPS,” said Battaglia. “GPS stands for Goals, Plans and Success. It’s perfectly stated because that’s exactly what TAP is designed to do, to achieve goals, to make viable plans and to achieve success.”
Dr. Susan S. Kelly, the director of the DOD Transition to Veterans Program Office and the lead for the implementation of the redesigned TAP, who joined Battaglia for the visit, said one of the focuses of the redesign is to give service members more time to plan for their transition.
“We used to start preparing no longer than 90 days from their transition. We are now pushing the curriculum into the military lifecycle so that from that very first permanent duty station for the active component, and for one of the initial drilling weekends for the reserve component, the service member will start doing some deliberate planning,” said Kelly. “We want to align all of the incredible training that service members receive, as well as their experience in leadership, team building, decision making, problem solving and organization into their personal careers as civilians.”
Kelly said just based on the feedback that she received in Kuwait, she was pleased that most service members were excited about the prospect of starting the planning process sooner.
“A lot of service members I talk to will say I wish I knew all of these budgeting skills that I learned about while transitioning when I came in, or I wish I would have known about resume writing and what I needed for my resume way back when,” she said. “That’s why we are looking for feedback specifically from those who are using the services. It will keep us on track.”
Spc. Brockway B. Forsman, an infantryman with 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, who had the opportunity to attend one of the sessions, will separate from the Army in October and has been attending TAP classes for the past two weeks on Camp Arifjan.
“I’ve been looking forward to the process because I know there are a lot of opportunities out there, and I want to try to utilize
everything that I can,” said Forsman. “After I leave the military I’m looking to try to get into college, and I really want to start a small business after I graduate.”
Forsman said the face-to-face time that he receives with counselors at the Camp Arifjan ACAP center is helping to build his confidence for when he is no longer in the military.
“I joined the military right after high school so the Army is pretty much all I know,” he said. “Being able to move past that and having the confidence to say I can really make something of my life, that’s a pretty big thing.”
Battaglia said the TAP GPS will continue to remain a large part of the transition and separation process for service members like Forsman who are preparing for new careers outside of the military.
“We’re coming out with it now, not just because of the surge of service members that are going to be separating because of the restructure and reshaping of our force, but because separation will always be here,” he said. “We all, regardless of our rank, military occupation specialty, or service component will be transitioning at some part of our career. We just want to make it great for the service members who are transitioning now and even better for the service members who follow us.”