Step 1. Schedule Your Pre-Separation Counseling Appointment
Your first step in the separation process is to go to your installation's Transition Assistance Office. Each service has its own way of doing things; this is also true with the Transition Assistance Offices. In most cases, you will find the Transition Assistance Office located inside your installation's Family Center.
Listed below is the name of each service’s Transition Assistance Program:
- Army: Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program
- Air Force: Transition Assistance Program
- Navy: Transition Goals, Plans, Success
- Marines: Transition Readiness Program
- Coast Guard Transition Assistance Program
You may schedule your Pre-Separation counseling appointment at your installation Transition Assistance Office any time within a year before your planned separation date. However, since it takes time to prepare for an effective transition, be sure to contact your Transition Assistance Office at least 180 days before your separation. By law Pre-Separation counseling (completion of DD Form 2648, "Pre-Separation Counseling Checklist") must occur no later than 90 days prior to separation; therefore, if you have not had an appointment 90 days before separation, call the Transition Assistance Office or your Career Counselor and schedule a visit immediately. However, it is strongly recommended that you set up your Pre-Separation counseling appointment at least 180 days prior to separation.
Step 2. Review the Pre-Separation Counseling Checklist
Your Transition Counselor or Command Career Counselor will walk you through the Pre-Separation Counseling Checklist, which helps ensure that you will receive the necessary assistance and advice to benefit fully from the wide range of services and entitlements available to you. The checklist is required by law to be filed in the official military personnel record of each Service member receiving the counseling.
At this meeting, the Transition Assistance Office or Command Career Counselor will:
- Assist you in developing an individual needs assessment.
- Identify helpful relocation resources.
- Offer immediate and long-range career guidance.
- Provide benefits counseling.
- Refer you to other service providers for any additional assistance you may require.
Step 3. Draft Your Individual Transition Plan (ITP)
An ITP is your personal road map for attaining employment, education, technical training, and entrepreneurship objectives. The ITP provides the framework for you to perform detailed assessments of your personal and professional preparedness to achieve realistic career goals after separation from active duty. It also identifies actions and activities associated with transition while providing a means to discover and explore interests and skills that may lead to potential career paths. The ITP is a living document that is created and maintained by you.
Each transition has three key decision points which must be considered when creating your ITP. As you proceed through the transition process it is important to consider the following major decision points:
- Money Decisions – Deciding how to best manage your finances will help you deal with changes in pay, compensation, and living expenses. This guide will give you information on your financial benefits, life insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, and creating a household budget.
- Benefit Decisions – Choosing which of the available benefits to apply for and deciding when and where to start. This guide will help you explore your benefits like the GI Bill, VA Home Loans, Health Care, and more.
- Job Decisions – Weighing your career options – choosing whether to pursue your current career path or start over and go back to school. This guide has information to help you learn about everything from writing resumes to exploring your employment opportunities to how to start a small business.