Because of social distancing protocols, the Fort Leonard Wood Soldier For Life – Transition Assistance Program team is teleworking, but the program is still aiding the transition of service members.
Transition Services Specialist Alfredia Williams said even with the stop-movement order in place and spread of COVID-19, some Soldiers who fall in three categories can begin their transition out of the military.
There are mandatory appointments, she said, for Soldiers who are retiring; have been approved for discharge by a medical-evaluation board; and those who have completed their contract – called expiration – term of service. Those meetings are now held over the phone and through webinars, and must be set up after registering with the program by phone.
“(Soldiers) can expect the same services we normally give,” said Catherine Richard, SFL-TAP contract installation manager. “All of our counseling, you still meet one-on-one with a counselor, it’s just not face-to-face; it’s telephonically. You still get the same one-on-one services, you still start the process the same: you can call us and we can get you registered and get you signed up for your initial counseling and your pre-separation briefing.”
Soldiers due to retire can enroll with the program 24 months prior to separation, while Soldiers with an ETS are encouraged to begin 18 months out. Those reviewed and approved for discharge by a medical evaluation board should enroll with SFL-TAP immediately, officials said.
In lieu of classes that would normally be taken on site, such as the Managing Your Transition and Financial Planning for Transition courses, the program offers options online, spots and times for which must be reserved over the phone.
“Our schedule really hasn’t changed,” Richard said. “We still have our scheduled clients. We’re not going into the center to conduct work; we’re all working from home and facilitating these webinars, talking to clients on the phone and following up with clients on things that they need to have done for the program.”
Richard said her team is distributing information to Soldiers on how to take the necessary online classes.
“We still send out the program guides and everything that we did before,” she said. “Now, we just send out directions on how to download (a) free conference-call app; how to connect to our webinars.”
SFL-TAP is a congressionally mandated course designed to help Soldiers prepare for meaningful civilian employment. While its normally scheduled networking events, career fairs and employment workshops are currently on hold, the program is ready to guide service members through the process virtually.
The program’s website cites findings that service members who participate are statistically proven to have a more successful post-service transition.
“A study by Hiring Our Heroes found that service members are two times more likely to get a job before leaving active duty if they start their job search at least six months or more before transitioning,” according to slf-tap.army.mil. “This indicates that many TAP requirements need to be completed much earlier in order to begin the job search at this six-month mark with the documents and knowledge needed to successfully search for open positions.”
For more information, or for support in beginning the transition process, contact SFL-TAP 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 573.596.0175, or visit www.facebook.com/sfltap.flw. To register, visit www.sfl-tap.army.mil, and then call for an appointment.