Military TAP Initial Counseling: What to Expect

Jannan Melendez, the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Employee Assistance Program and Prevention Coordinator. (U.S. Army)

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The federal Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is designed to help service members and their families successfully move from military to civilian life. Last redesigned in October 2019, TAP is organized in partnership with the Defense Department, the Department of Labor and the Department of Veterans Affairs. What is included is set by both federal law and agency policies.

TAP is divided into five key parts: the initial counseling; pre-separation briefing; DoD transition day and briefings by the Department of Labor and VA; specialized workshops; and the capstone.

The initial counseling (IC) kicks off your transition process. It's held in most cases no less than 365 days from your official separation date, but those retiring from the service can have it as far out as two years from their retirement date.

The IC is aimed at helping you create an overall plan for your transition process. Using the DD-2648 form as a guide, the counselor will walk you through exactly what you will experience during TAP and what you need to accomplish to successfully get ready for the civilian world. It can be held in person or, if you are stationed remotely, by video conference.

During your IC, you'll be asked to complete a self-assessment exercise. This process is designed to help you understand how to get the most out of the transition program, flag any gaps or extra help you need, and help you understand the best tracks to take during stage four, which includes specialized tracks and a complete briefing on transition resources.

TAP is designed to allow your service to make its own specialized changes to best help its members. You can see your individual service's transition program here:


Learn more about the other TAP steps:

Step Two: Pre-Separation Briefing

Step Three: DoD Transition Day, VA and Labor Department Briefings

Step Four: Specialized Military Transition Tracks

Step Five: Transition Assistance Program Capstone


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