News | Feb. 1, 2022

Transition Assistance Program

By Jessica L. Kendziorek 403rd Wing Public Affairs

As many men and women leave military service and return to civilian life, they undergo a process known as the military to civilian transition.

To assist military members and their families, a program was established called the Transition Assistance Program.

More commonly called TAP, the congressionally mandated program provides information, tools, job training and can assist with college education guidance to ensure service members and their spouses are ready to move forward with the next step in their upcoming civilian lives, said Patricia Jackson, 403rd Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Center director.

Originally geared toward those serving on active duty, it also applies to Reserve and National Guard members.

For many Reserve Citizen Airmen, this program applies during certain stages of their career: when a Reservist is on continuous orders for 180 days or more, or when serving an Active Guard or Reserve tour, referred to as an AGR. It is also for those who enlisted for only one or two terms, departing Air Reserve Technicians, and reservists who are ready to retire.

With the new reforms enacted by Congress, Jackson said that while reservists are no longer required to attend TAP after every 180+ day set of orders, the program is still mandatory for the first set of 180+ days of orders that a reservist receives and those readying for retirement or separation.

“While this means once the courses are completed, they are done, but it doesn’t mean a member cannot take other courses in TAP,” said Jackson.

Jackson said that there are certain parts of the program that are mandatory for service members to finish, but many courses are optional and can be taken at any point during a member’s service.

“Once an Airman is identified as needing to complete TAP, our office will contact them with the necessary paperwork to begin the self-assessment and provide them the necessary documents that must be completed,” she said.

Members are required to complete an initial in person counseling, register on E-benefits, pre-separation counseling, and more based on which tier level the member is placed.

“Once the Airman completes the self-assessment, completes all their paperwork, and returns it to our office, the process starts of placing them into a tier,” said Jackson. “We will then schedule an appointment to complete the Initial Counseling, which must be done in person.”

While the self-assessment can be filled out online, Jackson encourages the 403rd Wing reservists to initiate the process here at Keesler. This offers the members’ home station A&FR office the opportunity to assist them with filling out additional paperwork with help from an A&FR specialist and determining their tier level during the in-person interview.

“There are times when we are talking to the service member and realize that their answer in the system and on the paperwork doesn’t actually correspond with their actual life experience, and that can affect their tier level,” said Jackson.

For many traditional reservists, placement is fairly simple based on the fact they already have a civilian life outside of the military; however, participation is still mandatory.

Once the Airman is placed in their tier pathway and given the courses, they need to complete the courses before their orders end. The courses can be completed online, and for reservists, in-person, while still on orders, according to the Veterans' Employment and Training Service, or VETS, located on the Department of Labor.

Examples of the mandatory workshops and classes administered online by VETS include: a one-day employment preparation workshop, Managing Your Transition, Military Occupational Code Crosswalk, Financial Planning for Transition and the Veterans Administration Benefits and Services.  

Service members may also be exempt from completing the Employment Fundamentals of Career Transition course, if they have proof of full time employment, registration of attending school full time, or previously attended this course.

For more information about course requirements or to register for courses, 403rd Wing members should contact the A&FR at 228-376-8253.

Reservists who don’t live in the local area may be able to attend the courses at an installation close to their homes. To find the closest A&FR Center or Military and Family Readiness Center go to