Vets Checklist: Planning for Civilian Life

Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is a joint program of the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Labor. It offers information, tools, and training to make sure that service members and their families are ready for their next steps in civilian life. You can participate in TAP throughout your military career, not just when you’re ready to transition to civilian life.

Before you separate from military service, there are a few parts of TAP that you must do. The required parts of TAP are the same for all the military services (including the National Guard and the Reserve), but the services have different names for the program and offer it in slightly different ways. The Department of Labor links to the transition assistance programs for each specific branch of military service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Space Force) and provides a Transition Timeline.

Steps You Must Take

The required parts of TAP can vary depending on the military service you belong to. However, the actual steps you must take before separating from the military are largely the same. They can include:

  • Participating in the Pre-Separation Counseling process, which includes an overview of the programs and services available to you, and details about how you must create an Individual Transition Plan (ITP). Learn more about the Pre-Separation Counseling process.
  • Completing the TAP Curriculum, with coursework designed to prepare you for civilian life based on your needs and goals. Find TAP classes near you or attend virtual classes online.
  • Meeting Career Readiness Standards (CRS), a set of specific activities showing that you are ready to follow your goals for civilian life. Learn more about Career Readiness Standards.
  • Completing the Capstone process, where your commander (or your commander’s representative) verifies that you have met the Career Readiness Standards and made a workable Individual Transition Plan (ITP). The goal of the Capstone process is to evaluate your readiness for civilian life. If you need or want additional help, your commander (or representative) can refer you to partners, like the VA or Department of Labor. Learn more about the Capstone process.

You can attend TAP through any of the military services and at any military location where it is offered, not just your own. No matter where you attend TAP, your commander (or your commander’s representative) still must verify that you have met Career Readiness Standards and offer you further help if you need or want it.

Learn more about TAP.

Learn more