In order to ease the transition to civilian life, the U.S. Army now requires all soldiers to participate in transition services before leaving active duty.
According to Walter M. Herd, director of the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP), fully implementing transition for all discharging soldiers will increase participation by 300 percent. Programs like ACAP and the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) are meant to assist separating soldiers with the transition back to civilian life, including help preparing for the civilian job market or for academia.
The high unemployment rate among post-9/11 Veterans has placed transition assistance programs under increased scrutiny. Some advocates have partly blamed the jobless rate among young Veterans on inadequacies in transition programs, including the fact that until recently, they were not mandatory.
For young Veterans, particularly those who enlisted in the military right out of high school, mandatory transition programs are necessary. Many of these Veterans do not have much civilian work experience and don’t know how to translate the skills they gained while serving their country into language a civilian employer would understand.
The Army’s new regulation was instituted after Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act last fall. The White House, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Labor continue launching new programs addressing the transition challenges faced by the 2.4 million service members deployed to war since 9/11.