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Separation roadmap will keep you on track

Airman and Family Readiness Center

Airman and Family Readiness Center

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- In the poem "The Road Not Taken," Robert Frost mourns the fact that he could only take one of the two paths in front of him. However, he does acknowledge that the lesser travelled path that he takes has made all the difference.

When trying to fulfill all of one's milestones in life, having a roadmap available might make sure every path taken after military service is one that will truly make a difference.
The DD Form 2648, Preseparation Counseling Checklist for Active Component Service Members, is exactly that sort of roadmap, said Ernie Walters, a community readiness consultant with the Airman and Family Readiness Center here.

This roadmap is the key prop to preseparation counseling, which is an important step to helping prepare servicemembers for life after the separation, Mr. Walters said.
"It's so big, because some people have been in for 10, 20 or 30 years, and really don't know what to expect," said Mr. Walters.

While it may be a mandatory appointment to be completed at least 90 days prior to leaving active-duty military status, preseparation counseling is available up to 24 months before retirement or 12 months before separation.

This extra allotted time can be used as a buffer to plan out everything from careers, finances, veteran's benefits, relocation, insurance and education, depending on the goals of the person. The roadmap provides specific locations to pursue these items.

The first stop on the roadmap is employment assistance. The form lists several websites that are used for job searches, from Department of Defense and other federal employment positions to a more broad site with civilian positions. It lists sites that can translate a military job title into jobs that use the same skill set in the civilian sector.

Also under the employment assistance section is a recommendation to attend the Department of Labor sponsored Transition Assistance Program, held at the AFRC.
TAP teaches a wide variety of skills during the three-day course. Students enrolled attend in civilian clothing and are taught by Department of Labor officials.

"Networking is the most important step to securing a job," said Mr. Walters, "much more than searching online by far."

This networking is further developed by the job fair that takes place during each TAP course.

Once the TAP has further fostered the strong skills needed for the rest of life's journey, the roadmap points down more avenues for success.

Under the section titled education and training, the form suggests that one visit the education office or call the provided number for education benefit information. It goes further, pointing out the GI Bill official website for Post-9/11 GI bill and Montgomery GI Bill information. It also gives information about pursuing certifications, licensing or apprenticeships.

The roadmap leads onward to health and life insurance issues. While most military members are familiar with TRICARE, life after separation leaves many new insurance choices. Some options mentioned on the preseperation checklist are the 18-month conversion health insurance from TRICARE or Veterans' Group Life Insurance.

According to the TRICARE website, the 18-month CHCBP operates similar to TRICARE Standard benefits for the military member and his or her family. This option was enacted by Congress to act as a "bridge" between military health benefits and a new job's medical benefits, so there are no gaps in medical coverage.

The next stop on the roadmap's path is finances. It's recommended to see the military personnel flight about separation pay, as well as the professionals at AFRC for financial management tips. Other financial assistance is available from veteran affairs or small business loans and other government grants.

Finally, the form's roadmap discusses relocation assistance, which includes terminal leave and the servicemember's final moving allowance.

No matter how far a servicemember travels after his or her career, the roadmap provided by the preseparation counseling checklist can shine some light on the path. Hopefully, that will make all the difference.