Preparation key to successful separation, retirement

Master Sgt. Jon Hanson
Kaiserslautern American

“The purpose of the class is to equip separatees and retirees with skills and knowledge for reentry into the civilian sector.”
– Stacey Crosson, Ramstein Family Support Center community readiness technician

Separating or retiring from the military can be one of the most difficult things a person can go through.

But, it doesn’t need to be. All it takes is planning and some work.
One way to help with the change from military to civilian life is by attending a Transition Assistance Program workshop.

The TAP workshop is a four-day seminar for transitioning military members and their spouses. The Ramstein Family Support Center conducts the workshop twice a month. One workshop focuses on those members who are separating from the military and the other on those retiring.

“The purpose of the class is to equip separatees and retirees with skills and knowledge for reentry into the civilian sector,” said Stacey Crosson, Ramstein FSC community readiness technician. “The emphasis is on transition preparation rather than job placement.”

The first day is hosted by the FSC and covers topics such as stress management, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test, financial management, federal employment, education and a Veteran’s Administration brief.

The next three days are run by a Department of Labor contractor who focuses on the job search process. This includes the steps of developing a career catalog, assessing skills, resume writing, interviewing techniques, negotiating skills and analyzing job offers.

The goal of the TAP workshop is to convert military experience into a civilian job, said Dean Anderson, TAP facilitator with Native American Management Services, a Department of Labor contractor.

“We show them it’s not as hard as a lot of people believe it is, and they have a lot of skills they don’t even realize they have that are valuable on the outside,” said Mr. Anderson. “Once they realize that and put it into their resumes and know how to answer questions in an interview, they do very well.”

One of the biggest keys to a successful transition is preparation. The longer a person has to prepare the better.

“We suggest anyone separating the military attend a TAP workshop at least 12 months out,” said Mrs. Crosson. “If you’re retiring, 24 months out is optimal. The more time you give yourself, the better.”

Tech. Sgt. Robert Thorne, 786th Security Forces Squadron, who is being medically retired, agreed that taking the workshop one to two years out is best.

“That way you have time to prepare your resume and job applications at least six months out from your retirement or separation date,” said Sergeant Thorne. “It has been extremely difficult for me, especially with my medical retirement.

“I received less than two months notification of my retirement date. That’s nowhere enough time to get job applications and resumes out there for the type of job I am looking for.”

The class has been very successful at helping servicemembers transition out of the military, said Ms. Crosson.

“I definitely think this class was beneficial, said Sergeant Thorne. “I think everybody should go through this class, whether they are retiring or separating, even spouses because they get too militarized especially with GS (government service) jobs.”
The workshop is even beneficial for those who plan on getting out but might not be ready.

“There are times people realize ‘I’m just not ready yet; I haven’t thought this out totally; I don’t have to get out; it makes more sense for me to stay in and prepare a little more,’” said Mr. Anderson.
It gives the member an opportunity to maybe get some more education and prepare financially, he said.

“I think it is a great program for people to go through,” said Mr. Anderson. “The people who come through this and get the information and do it are having success transitioning.”
Call Stacey Crosson or Tracy Snider at 480-5100 or 06371-47-5100 to sign up.

The Ramstein Family Education Resource Center, located in Bldg. 2115 (behind finance), has many items to assist in the transition period. They also have computers members can use to write a resume or search on-line for jobs.