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Witness Testimony of Mr. Edward Cannon, Fleet and Family Readiness Program Director, U.S. Navy

 

STATEMENT OF

MR. EDWARD CANNON

FLEET AND FAMILY READINESS PROGRAM DIRECTOR

COMMANDER NAVAL INSTALLATIONS COMMAND

 BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

OF THE

HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS’ AFFAIRS

NAVY TRANSITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

 

 

September 20, 2012

 

NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL

RELEASED BY THE HOUSE

COMMITTEE ON VETERANS’ AFFAIRS


Chairman Stutzman, Congressman Braley, and distinguished members of this subcommittee, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to testify about the Navy Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and our efforts to successfully transition Sailors to civilian life and employment.

 The Navy separates or retires over 39,000 Sailors each year from an overall force strength of approximately 322,000.  The average age of our Sailors is 29 years, and over half are married.  Our Sailors are in diverse career fields including the Navy SEALs, air traffic controllers, health care, electronics technicians, and nuclear engineers.  The Navy is an expeditionary force that routinely deploys.  Many Sailors are sought after by civilian employers because of the training and skills they obtain in the Navy, and we have extensive retention programs in place to man the Fleet with Sailors who possess these critical skills.  Over 29,000 Sailors possess post-secondary degrees, with 47,000 using Tuition assistance.  Our Reserve Component Sailor is also more senior with an average age of 37, 88% are above the pay grade of E-3, and 30% have bachelor degrees.   Ninety percent of our Reserve Sailors are employed or attending school and two-thirds have prior active service. 

Current Navy Transition Assistance Program

Under the current Navy transition process model, Sailors may begin the transition process 24 months (retirees) or 12 months (separating) prior to separation; however, they are required to begin preparation for their transition to civilian life no later than 90 days before separation. During this period, each transitioning Sailor must go through mandatory (by law, Title 10 (§1142)) pre-separation counseling to introduce them to the programs and services available to assist them.  Sailors currently complete a checklist that documents the counseling received as well as the additional services and briefings to which Sailors are referred based upon their individual needs.

The Navy currently provides a 4-5 day Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Workshop at installations world-wide via Fleet and Family Support Programs.  In FY-11, the Navy had 33,000 attendees (85% of separating Sailors) voluntarily attend TAP Workshops.   Depending upon the installation size and population, TAP Workshops may be tailored for separation, involuntary separation, retirement, or seniority.  Frequency of classes is dependent upon installation population size.  The current Navy TAP workshops consist of the Department of Labor (DOL) Employment Workshop, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits briefing, Disabled Transition Assistance Program briefing, and Navy specific topics.   Additionally, Fleet and Family Support counselors also provide individual transition counseling and resume and other transition-related workshops as requested.

The Navy Fleet and Family Support Centers also conduct First Term and Mid-Career Workshops (CONSEP – Career Options and Navy Skills Evaluation Program).  These four day courses are designed to assist active duty service members in achieving Navy and future civilian career goals.  The training topics provide vital information on career-making decisions, upward mobility, college and certification opportunities, apprenticeships, as well as financial management and investment strategies which enhance the ability to achieve personal and professional success.  In addition, the Navy is working with the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force to identify opportunities for more than 400,000  Active and Reserve Sailors to earn civilian occupational credentials and licenses prior to separation.

For our recent force shaping initiative, the Navy supplemented existing transition services by contracting with a civilian outplacement service company to provide personalized career coaching and job search assistance to these Sailors that were involuntarily separated.

Re-Designed Transition GPS (Goals, Plan, Succeed) Program

In collaboration with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, VA, DOL, Department of Education, and the Small Business Administration, the Navy is conducting pilot programs for the five-day curriculum of the redesigned Transition GPS (Goals – Plan – Succeed) and the CAPSTONE event.   The elements of the re-designed Transition Assistance program are:

1)  Career Readiness Standards (CRS) –A set of common, discreet and measurable transition “readiness” standards that Service members must meet prior to separation from active or reserve duty.

2)  Transition Goals, Plan, Succeed (GPS) Program – A series of training that includes Pre-Separation Counseling, three-day Department of Labor Employment Workshop (DOLEW), and two-day workshop comprised of VA Benefits Briefings, Financial Education, Military Occupational Code Crosswalk, Family/Special Issues, and an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) review. Additionally, participants may select from optional two-day training tracks in Education, Entrepreneurship, or Technical training.

3)  Military Life Cycle - Incorporate preparation for Service members’ career transition throughout their military service – from accession through transition from service and reintegration back into civilian life.

4)  CAPSTONE Event – A forum provided for Service members to validate Career Readiness Standards are met, and to refer members as needed for additional training prior to separation or retirement.

Navy Transition Assistance Core Workshop Curriculum

The mandatory Navy Transition GPS Core Workshop is a five day curriculum.  On Day One, Navy transition staffs cover the following topics:

1). Transition Assistance Overview: includes a Welcome Address / Workshop Schedule of Activities, Topics for Family Considerations/Special Issues, the Value of a Mentor, and a review of available Fleet and Family Support services.

2). Military Occupational Crosswalk:  The Military Occupational Code (MOC) Crosswalk is a module on translating military training and experience into skills appropriate for civilian jobs.  Upon completing this module, Sailors will have a document recording their military career experience and skills; translation of their military occupation experience to civilian sector skills; and identification of gaps in their training and/or experience that need to be filled to meet their personal career goal.  The crosswalk will allow Sailors the ability to develop a clear line of sight between their military skills and training and career fields of their choice. 

3). Financial Planning: Upon completing the financial planning seminar, Sailors will be prepared to build an integrated 12-month budget that reflects post-military employment, education, or training goals.  Instructors and financial planning staff will be available for follow-up counseling as requested by the Service member. 

The DOL delivers the approved Employment Workshop Days Two thru Four.  On Day Five, the VA conducts the approved VA Benefits and Applications briefing and Sailors review progress on their Individual Transition Plan. 

Optional Education, Technical Training and Entrepreneur Workshops

In addition to completing the Transition GPS Core Curriculum, transitioning Sailors will also have the option of participating in a series of two day tailored tracks within the Transition GPS curriculum: (1) an Education track, for those pursuing a higher education degree; (2) a Technical and Skills Training track, for those seeking job-ready skills and industry-recognized credentials in shorter-term training programs; and (3) an Entrepreneurship track, for those wanting to start a business.

The Navy CAPSTONE Seminar

The Navy will host a pilot on our CAPSTONE Event to validate the process.  Ninety days before their separation from military service, Sailors will participate in this CAPSTONE seminar, which will verify that transitioning Sailors completed the Transition GPS curriculum and achieved Career Readiness Standards.  Staff will also review potential challenges Veterans may face, and review the tools and resources available to them that they learned about in the Transition GPS Workshops.  Sailors who require additional assistance will be referred to supplemental training opportunities.  In addition, through the CAPSTONE event, all Sailors will be offered a ‘warm handoff’ to appropriate government agencies and organizations that will provide them continued benefits, services, and support as veterans.

Military Life Cycle Transition Model:

 

The new transition program will incorporate career readiness and transition preparation into the entire span of a service member’s career.  In the past, transition and preparation for the civilian workforce occurred late in a service member’s time in the military – near the point of separation.  Under this new program, these concepts will be incorporated earlier to ensure that the counseling, assessments, and access to resources to build skills or credentials occur at earlier stages of a service member’s military tenure.

The Navy will incorporate aspects of transition assistance in the Navy Retention and Career Development program.  The current career development program is designed to improve the ability of our Sailors to achieve their professional goals.   Individual Career Development Plans are developed based upon Career Roadmaps for each enlisted Rating.  The Rating Roadmap includes information on Skill Training, Job Description, Personal and Professional Development, Career Development Boards, the Navy Qualifications and Certifications, Civilian Occupations and the Navy Credentialing Opportunities On Line, US Military Apprenticeship Program, Professional Military Education, and Voluntary Education.  

The Navy will incorporate aspects of the transition assistance program into our Career Development Boards, which are routinely held during key points in a Sailor’s career.  For example, we will ensure that Sailors:  (1) are registered for and know about eBenefits;(2) while on active duty, are informed about the VA benefits they are eligible for during active duty as well as after they become Veterans; and (3) understand the importance of maintaining their own personnel records and obtaining credentials and certifications for the skills obtained in the Navy.   Essentially, a Sailor’s Individual Career Development plan should become their Individual Transition Plan.  The Career Development Program is a key component of transition – qualified, successful Sailors are sought after as potential qualified, successful employees after separation

Summary

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Navy’s Transition Assistance Program with you.  We are improving the Transition Assistance Program with our Agency partners.  The Navy wants and needs to retain trained, qualified Sailors to continue to protect and serve the country.  For those who choose to separate or retire, we are committed to ensuring that they leave the Navy with tools to be successful in their career transition