The Transition to Civilian Life
By Michael Roof – Director Grand Traverse County Veterans Affairs.
Throughout the military’s discharge process, service members sit in a class focused on providing resources to assist with their transition to civilian life. Unfortunately, the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) usually falls short for many members. With my personal experience, while discharging from the Marines at Camp Pendleton in California, we had an officer from the California Highway Patrol tell us they would immediately accept us into their academy if we went straight there on our discharge date. That might be great for someone wanting to stay in the area, but I just wanted to get back to Illinois. This hyper-focused offer system seems the case for most TAP classes. There is limited or no local resources for the service member in the area they are returning.
For most members, the top priorities are usually housing and employment. For housing needs, find a reputable realtor in the area you will need for assistance in finding a house. Make sure you have your VA Home Loan paperwork done to utilize those benefits. For employment, check in with your local Michigan Works office. Michigan Works provides job seekers the support, training, and services they need to get back to work. For more on Michigan Works, go to www.michiganworks.org.
Veterans are accustomed to being part of a group of like-minded people. Research veterans’ groups in your area and join. Don’t just be a member but be active in continuing to serve with others.
TAP classes look different from branch to branch, and the Department of Defense and VA is actively working on making it better each year. When you reach your final destination, check with your local County Department of Veterans’ Affairs office. These people have knowledge of all resources in the area for veterans and recently returning service members.
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