President Obama Announces Redesigned Transition Program, Veteran Initiatives

This week, President Obama announced the launch of the redesigned Transition Assistance Program developed from a collaboration between the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM), the Small Business Administration, and the Departments of Labor, Education, and Homeland Security.

Dubbed Transition GPS, the revamped program is the first major overhaul of the transition assistance program for servicemembers in nearly twenty years. Transition GPS is the response to the President’s call in August 2011 to ensure military members leaving the ranks are “career ready.”

Transition GPS will be implemented throughout the military by the end of 2012 and includes the following provisions:

  • Extend the transition program from three days to 5-7 days
    • Five-day core curriculum
  • Strengthen, standardize, and expand counseling and guidance for servicemembers before leaving the military
    • Pre-separation assessment and individual counseling
    • Military life cycle transition model
  • Transform the military’s approach to education, training, and credentialing for servicemembers
    • Career-specific additional curriculum
    • CAPSTONE event

VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki released a statement on this significant development:

One of our fundamental responsibilities as a government is to properly prepare and support those serving in our military so they are career ready as they transition back into civilian life. With this new initiative, we can better ensure veterans receive the care, benefits and employment services they have earned. This collaborative effort will have an impact well beyond this current generation of individuals returning from combat.

In addition to Transition GPS, President Obama announced enhanced initiatives to provide for Veterans and military families.

For Veterans, the President announced the following provisions:

  • Two new Veterans’ tax creditsfor businesses that hire Veterans; both were signed into law in November 2011 and are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress votes to extend them
    • Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides an incentive of up to $5,600 for firms to hire unemployed Veterans
    • Wounded Warrior Tax Credit doubles existing tax credit for long-term unemployed Veterans with service-connected disabilities to $9,600
  • Helping more Veterans start businesses and increasing the hiring of Veterans in healthcare-related fields and the federal government
  • Increasing access to intensive reemployment services by enable post-9/11 Veterans to download the Veteran Gold Card which entitles them to enhanced reemployment services including six months of personalized case management, assessments, and career counseling at their local American Job Center
  • Veteran employment online tool development via the Veterans Jobs  Bank
  • Streamlining civilian credentialing for Servicemembers and Veterans so that Servicemembers can earn credit for their military experience for high-demand manufacturing jobs

Finally, Veterans and military families have seen more support with the following:

  • Strengthening the VA by enhancing education benefits and, extending benefits to victims of Agent Orange
  • Working to addresses serious Veteran issues like homelessness, PTSD, TBI, and suicide
  • Trying to reduce the backlog of VA claims
  • Honoring our nation’s Vietnam Veterans

For more information on the provisions listed, see the links below.

Read more:

Panetta: Program will help transitioning troops get jobs, Department of Defense, 24 July 2012

Fact sheet: President Obama’s work to honor our military families and Veterans, The White House, 23 July 2012

Redesigned transition assistance program announced, Department of Veterans Affairs, 23 July 2012