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Witness Testimony of Brigadier General Robert F. Hedelund, Director, Marine and Family Programs, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Department of Defense

Joint Statement with Beth A. Barton, Ph.D., Manager, Personal and Professional Development Program, Marine Corps Community Services

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which was created to help separating and retiring Service members and their families make a smooth transition from a military career to the civilian sector, is a collaborative partnership between DOD, the Military Services, the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Marine Corps Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP)

Currently, the Marine Corps' Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) consists of 2.5- to 3.5-Day Workshops which include the following components with our other agency partners:  USMC Preseparation Interview; USMC Preseparation Counseling Briefing; Department of Labor (DOL) Transition Assistance Program Employment Workshop;  Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Briefing; and Department of Veterans Affairs Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP).

Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton are two of the largest installations in the Marine Corps.  Based upon an internal review of operations for separating/retiring Marines, we found that Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton experience the highest number of Marines transitioning out of the Corps annually.  On average, the typical TAP workshop (class) size at Camp Lejeune is 100.  For FY10, Camp Lejeune held 82 TAP workshops, with a total of 8,201 participants.  Since the most recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among DoL, DoD, VA, and the Department of Homeland Security does not limit the size of the TAP workshop (class), Marine Corps installations have the latitude to expand the size of scheduled classes to meet their installations' Service member demands.   Generally, DoL and VA use their respective state agency representatives to conduct TAP workshops at Marine Corps installations.  Per the Commandant's direction, we are in the process of vetting and approving all partners, affiliates, and contractors providing support services at TAP workshops.

Way Ahead

In his Planning Guidance, our Commandant said, to "Review and improve transition assistance - conduct an assessment of our Transition Assistance Program and recommend a plan to revolutionize our approach to better meet the needs of departing and retiring Marines."  In response, we have established a goal to make the Marine Corps Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) more value-added for separating and retiring Marines. 

We will transform TAMP’s 2.5- to 3.5-Day Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Workshops from event-driven to process-driven programs and support services along four “military to civilian” pathways: Employment; Career/Technical Education; College/University; and Entrepreneurship.  We are developing a three-year strategic and operational plan to improve and streamline Transition Assistance programs and services for our Marines and their families.  We will inventory TAMP's capabilities; assess current operations for redundancies and gaps; standardize TAP workshop core curriculum and electives;  adopt best practices, and establish Measures of Effectiveness which enable the Marine Corps to  continuously improve our Transition Assistance programs and services. 

We believe our efforts will result in an innovative program that addresses the Commandant's concerns, meets the needs of our Marines and their families as they progress through their military life cycle, and help them transition successfully to a post-military career. 

Introduction

Chairman Stutzman, Ranking Member Braley, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for your interest in the Marine Corps Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) and the opportunity to discusss the important steps we are taking to transform our program from an event-driven process to one of engaging our Marines at their initial entry into the Corps, helping them establish their long-term education and career goals along the way, and equipping them with the skills they need to successfully reintegrate back into civilian life and workforce once they leave the Service.

Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) - Collaborative Process

The TAMP, which was developed by the Department of Defense (DoD) to help separating and retiring Service members and their families make a smooth transition from a military career to the civilian sector, is a collaborative partnership between DoD, the Military Services, the Department of Labor (DoL), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

 Partnering with our sister Services and agencies, the Marine Corps currently provides 2.5- to 3.5-day Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshops which are designed to assist all active duty personnel and family members with their transition to the civilian sector.  Currently, the key components include the following, all of which are mandatory for the Marine Corps:

  • USMC Preseparation Interview includes an explanation of the transition requirements for separating and retiring Service members and how to obtain Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET).
  • USMC Preseparation Counseling Briefingmust be completed before a Service member can separate or retire and involves subject matter experts outlining the available benefits and entitlements to transitioning Service members.  As part of this process, Service members complete the DD Form 2648/-1 Preseparation Checklist.
  • DoL Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Employment Workshop includes comprehensive information on such topics as how to write a resume and cover letter; getting information on skills assessment; job search techniques; and accessing DoL's Career One-Stop Center in their local community to continue their job search, if necessary.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Briefing outlines the VA benefits, health care, and entitlements separating and retiring Service members may be entitled to; the procedures for applying for such benefits; as well as information on the Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bills.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP) is specifically geared to Service members who have a disability verified by a VA physician.  The program focuses on eligibility requirements for Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits. 

Camp Lejeune

Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton are two of the largest installations in the Marine Corps.  Based upon an internal review of operations for separating/retiring Marines, we found that Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton experience the highest number of Marines transitioning out of the Corps annually.  On average, the typical TAP workshop (class) size at Camp Lejeune is 100.  For FY10, Camp Lejeune held 82 TAP workshops, with a total of 8,201 participants.  Since the most recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among DoL, DoD, VA, and the Department of Homeland Security does not limit the size of the TAP workshop (class), Marine Corps installations have the latitude to expand the size of scheduled classes to meet their installations' Service member demands.  

Generally, DoL and VA use their respective state agency representatives to conduct TAP workshops at Marine Corps installations.  Per the Commandant's direction, we are in the process of vetting and approving all partners, affiliates, and contractors providing support services at TAP workshops.

Way Ahead

In his Planning Guidance, our Commandant said, to "Review and improve transition assistance - conduct an assessment of our Transition Assistance Program and recommend a plan to revolutionize our approach to better meet the needs of departing and retiring Marines."  In response, we have established a goal to make the Marine Corps’ TAMP more value-added for separating and retiring Marines. 

From 2009 to 2010, the Marine Corps conducted various assessments of the TAMP and the Personal and Professional Development and noted many deficiencies.  In response, we established two Transition Assistance Operational Planning Teams in 2010 to assess existing programs.  These teams identified issues, stakeholders and a conceptual framework for improved services and ways to integrate Marine Corps Community Services transition assets.  Key stakeholders involved in this process include Marine recruiters, commanders, Unit Transition Coordinators, and most importantly -- our Marines and their family members.  

With our predominately first-term force, we are committed to reaching our Marines at designated touch points, helping them develop roadmaps to support their Marine careers, and better equipping them to reintegrate back into civilian life upon leaving active duty service.  We have developed an end-to-end process improvement plan, are initiating actions, and are integrating existing capabilities that directly improve the quality of support provided to our Marines.  In the near future, our transition assistance will become a personal and professional development process that will transition Marines into civilian life with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to better leverage their Marine Corps time and experience into meaningful careers. 

We will transform TAMP’s 2.5- to 3.5-Day Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Workshop from event-driven to process-driven programs and support services along four “military to civilian” pathways: Employment; Career/Technical Education; College/University; and Entrepreneurship.

We are developing a three-year strategic and operational plan to improve and streamline Transition Assistance programs and services for our Marines and their families.  To date, we have developed a plan which inventories and assesses critical components of our TAMP, based on the following three phases:

  • Phase I focuses on 180 days pre-and post-end of active duty service, which includes an inventory of our TAMP capabilities, an assessment of current operations for redundancies and gaps, a requirement that our TAP workshop core curriculum and electives be standardized (with well-defined learning objectives and exit outcomes), and an adoption of best practices. 
  • Phase II and Phase III are still in development, based upon Measures of Effectiveness  indicators that will be adopted, used, and assessed by Marine Corps Headquarters and all installations to continuously improve our Transition Assistance programs and services. 

Conclusion

We believe our efforts will result in an innovative program that addresses the Commandant's concerns, meets the needs of our Marines and their families as they progress through their military life cycle, and help them transition successfully to a post-military career. 

Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony.