In 1990, Congress enacted a law directing the establishment of a program of assistance to all transitioning personnel affected by mandated reductions. For the United States Army, the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) was the answer. Realizing that the transitioning Soldiers bring a lot to the civilian workforce and the communities that they live in, the Army decided to better reflect the new direction of Army transition and change ACAP to “Soldier for Life”. The Soldier For Life program was announced by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno on June 20, 2014 and it would officially take effect on October 1, 2014.
Unfortunately, most Soldiers wait until the end of their career before seriously preparing to transition. The Army feels that this is too late and wants all Soldiers prepared to transition out of the Army and into a civilian job regardless of if they stay only one enlistment or retire.
Soldier for Life offers a lot of useful services such as the MOS Crosswalk which helps to identify skills, experience, credentials, and education that have been obtained while in the military and cross-walk them to civilian opportunities. Soldier for Life also offers assistance with preparing resumes, preparing for job interviews and provides information on resources and organizations which may be of assistance during the transition process. The whole Soldier for Life process is pretty standard and some transitioning Soldiers may leave with questions and concerns.
A facebook group was started more than a year ago which helps transitioning Soldiers by taking advantage of the knowledge of those that are currently transitioning and those that have transitioned and making it available 24 hours a day on facebook. The group, “The Army Retiree Alumni Share Group. Army Strong~ Army Tired” may have a funny name, but they have a serious mission. With more than 9,000 members, information about transitioning, resume writing tips, job opportunities, and VA benefits fill the pages. Members provide support and encouragement through the transition process and many members that have already transitioned will stay around and share their knowledge with those who are now going through the process.
“Preparation is the KEY to a great transition, BEFORE you retire!!!”
One member recently posted to the group: “It’s never too early to add anyone to this group. If they have over 15 years of service, they need to be added. It’s too late to come on the group AFTER you retire. Preparation is the KEY to a great transition, BEFORE you retire!!!” I have to agree, preparation is the key and the earlier you join the group and take advantage of the knowledge the members have to offer, the better off you will be through your transition process. The group is not a replacement for the congressionally mandated transition program offered by the Army, but it sure is a welcome addition and is useful enough that it should be promoted to all transitioning Soldiers.