Army News Service
WASHINGTON — The president announced in June an initiative to expand programs designed to prepare service members for leaving the military, but before those initiatives were announced, the Army was already at work making improvements to the Army Career and Alumni Program, or ACAP.
ACAP is designed to help Soldiers transitioning back into civilian life.
Designed in 1991, ACAP aims to reduce veteran unemployment and helps troops adjust to life outside of the Army.
Recently, ACAP coordinators decided to make some changes to help more Soldiers be successful after leaving the military by tailoring the program to meet each Soldier’s unique needs.
“The ACAP program is flexible, so we can better prepare Soldiers for their transition back into the civil society,” said Walter Herd, director of the Army Transition Office.
Some of the additions the Army has made to ACAP include individual counseling, a financial planning seminar, a veterans’ benefits workshop and an expanded employment workshop.
Another improvement, Soldiers will begin the transition process 12 to 18 months prior to leaving the Army, giving them ample time to prepare for their transition to civilian life.
“We have adjusted our program so that Soldiers can begin the transition early,” Herd said. “That allows Soldiers to be better prepared, to get enrolled (in college), apply for scholarships and create and distribute a better resume.”
Another improvement in the program is the flexibility of transition support and aid.
About 125,000 Soldiers transition out of the Army each year. Those Soldiers move into either Reserve component or civilian status. Historically, about two-thirds of transitioning Soldiers enter the workforce and the remaining third enroll in a college or trade school.
Although support for military personnel entering these fields existed in the old ACAP program, the updated program exposes Soldiers to more resources, especially those in the Reserves.
The Army is currently piloting transition assistance and transition counseling for eligible Army personnel. The objective of the pilot is to assess the ability to implement the recently enacted Veterans Opportunity to Work, or VOW, Act transition requirements.
VOW mandates that, starting Nov. 21, all Soldiers separating from an active duty tour of 180 days or greater will participate in the Transition Assistance Program, or TAP.
VOW was created to help veterans gain marketable skills to more easily find a job. Hence, all separating Soldiers will attend pre-separation counseling, a Veterans Affairs benefits briefing and a Department of Labor employment workshop.
“Soldiers will be equipped with the tools and support necessary to make a smooth transition into civilian life,” said Charlene Shelton, manager, Transition Services, ACAP, Directorate of Human Resources, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. “The goal is to have separating Soldiers be career-ready for civilian employment.
“VOW is important because it is a concerted effort to reduce the unemployment costs for the Department of Defense,” Shelton added. “The unemployment rate for younger veterans is above the national average. The new transition curriculum created by an interagency task force will cover financial planning, resume preparation, interviewing, salary negotiation skills, education planning, entrepreneurial planning and dealing with family adjustment.”
Shelton said that while she expects a significant increase of clientele during fiscal years 13 and 14, the ACAP Center location will remain at Schofield Barracks’ Soldier Support Center. The number of classes will be doubled with TAP workshops and VA briefings being held concurrently at the ACAP Center and the Schofield Barracks Education Center,
Units stationed in South Oahu can use a satellite office that will be operational at Fort Shafter, Nov. 21, with limited services. Services will include a small computer lab and two ACAP counselors. Workshops will also be offered when classroom space is available at Fort Shafter. VA counseling and financial planning services will be available a few times per month.
Besides providing transition services, VOW expands education and training opportunities for veterans and provides tax credits for employers who hire veterans with service-connected disabilities.
(Editor’s Note: USAG-HI Public Affairs contributed to this article.)
Soldiers can receive one-on-one counseling on their transitional needs by calling ACAP’s 24/7 call center service at (800) 325-4715 or by emailing email@example.com.
Soldiers can use the online service to complete their mandatory pre-separation briefing on the ACAP homepage; visit www.acap.army.mil.
ACAP’s mission is to deliver a world-class transition program for America’s Army that empowers members to make informed career decisions through benefits counseling and employment assistance.
Retirees and Army civilians, as well as spouses of transitioning Soldiers, can use ACAP services.
The Schofield Barracks ACAP is located in the Soldier Support Center, Bldg. 750, Room 134.
Hours of operation follow:
•7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
•10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursdays.