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Virtual learning opportunities to transitioning Service members

March 2, 2011 | By kobylangley
Guest Blogger - Mr. Dave Dubois, Transition Assistance Program Policy
Viewers of television news broadcasts over the last few years have become accustomed to seeing footage of senior military commanders referring to “the facts on the ground” when discussing the serious day-to-day realities of the U.S. military’s missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.  However, serious day-to-day realities that affect the lives of Service members are not exclusive to the battlefield.  The “facts-on-the-ground” for Service members transitioning back to civilian life during these tough economic times paint a picture of a challenging employment landscape for separating active duty members and demobilizing National Guard and Reserve members. Much like the combat units in Middle East and the private sector companies stateside, the keys to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) solution to this employment transition challenge are technology and innovation.
Beginning yesterday, the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), administered by the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy (WWCTP), began offering a series of virtual learning opportunities to transitioning Service members looking to bolster their transition-related knowledge. The free online classes will be available on-demand to any Service member worldwide and cover essential employment search subject matter such as resume writing and interviewing.  This is a very exciting project we are launching.  The technology and online capability that we are using to educate our Warriors virtually on a mass scale is a capability that has never been used before for TAP. We can now provide career coaching and resources to Service members regardless of where they are in the world. This will be a significant resource for Wounded Warriors who can’t attend a traditional TAP classes while in recovery and our dedicated Guard and Reserve members who don't have the same access to transition resources as their active duty counterparts. The diverse curriculum offered in the virtual classrooms will match the diverse needs of various unique military groups taking the classes. The class’ facilitators will teach Service members to do things such as translate their military experience into civilian terms; network and discover employment opportunities; create a new financial plan and even understand the federal employment system. The sessions are designed to provide them with practical information which can be put to use immediately.  The launch of the TAP virtual learning classes is part of full scale overhaul of the two decade old TAP program to reflect the modern realities of the job market.  In addition to utilizing the latest in information technology, the revamped TAP aims to better prepare transitioning Service members by focusing on areas such as strategic communications, licensure and certifications. Although the virtual learning opportunities are being marketing primary to Service members, spouses and families members will also be allowed to participate the online sessions. This inclusion of family members reflects a new military-wide focus on the welfare of military families and a core mission of the man in charge of WWCTP — John R. Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. “Military spouses and families are a bedrock of stability for Service members at home and abroad. They fully manage the day-to-day responsibilities of the home front and equally share in the strategic longterm sacrifices that are asked of Service members. Our new reality is that individuals don’t join the military, whole families do,” said Campbell. “Spouses and family members form a standing “Home Front Command” whose transition needs must be identified and addressed properly in order to ensure the transition success of the Service members themselves.” Regardless of the target group for the online classes, the one common theme is that the future is here for TAP according to Campbell. “Services members today live, work and play in the augmented reality of the digital world. We are opening shop in that digital space to train and prepare them for life after the military on their terms,” he said. “With these On-Demand courses, we can provide Service members, particularly National Guard and Reserve members, with better access to more relevant information that they can use to tailor their own transition experiences.” For more information on the TAP virtual learning opportunities and a schedule of future on-demand courses, please visit www.turbotap.org.
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