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‘Seps, Taps’ makeover

10 Aug 2012 | Sgt. Heather

The Marine Corps is making sure its members are more ready than ever to transition from the military into a civilian life with a revamped version of its former transition assistance program.


The Transition Readiness Seminar is a three-part program designed to give separating service members exposure to all the tools they need to make sure they are successful once they hang up their uniforms.

“Marine Corps wide, the Personal and Professional Development staff said, ‘We’re not meeting their needs. What can we do?,” said Virginia Sulick, manager, Combat Center Career Resource Office. The Core, Pathway Workshops and the Individual Transition Plan fill out the program’s three parts.

The Core and Pathways are combined into one week of instruction. The ITP is a personal plan for how a service member wants to implement what they learned during the other two portions of TRS. This is where the individual starts seeking the services and resources that are important to him, like the Education Office, the Personal Financial Management Program, the Relocation Office and the Career Resource Office. The ITP is developed throughout the Core and Pathways days.

The Core is required for all service members to attend no less than 90 days prior to exiting active duty. This two-day segment features information for Marines, sailors and their families, and covers employment, relocation, education and training, heath and life insurance, finances, Reserve affiliation and veteran’s benefits.

Once these days are completed, service members enter one of the four Pathways – College and University, Career and Technical Training, Entrepreneurship, or Employment. Each two and a half day workshop is designed to give Marines and sailors the skills they need to successfully pursue their chosen paths.

The workshops are conducted by Marine Corps Community Services, contract, state and federal instructors. The only Pathway that is not a Marine Corps-owned course is the Employment Pathway, which is taught by instructors from the Department of Labor’s California Employment Development Department.

“The average 22-year-old isn’t thinking about what happens afterwards; it’s not necessarily where their heads are at,” Sulick said. “A lot of these Marines just got back from war. The last thing on their minds is, ‘I’ve got to go out, get a job and get on with my life.’ If we can pique their interest with one of these four Pathways, that’s what it’s here for.”

Service members can elect to return for any of the other Pathways they did not initially take. They will not be required to attend the Monday and Tuesday Core sessions again, only the “add-on” Pathway.

TRS replaces the Preseparation Brief and supplements the Transition Assistance Program required for all exiting Marines. Combined they were a four-day, one-size-fits-all, “death by PowerPoint” program. The briefs contained well over 450 slides, Sulick said.

A problem was too much of the former course’s very limited time was being spent teaching service members things that may not fit into their own plans for their lives after service.

“We were finding out that one size doesn’t fit all; service members weren’t all exiting and joining the workforce immediately,” Sulick said. “TRS takes the traditional [program] and makes it more personal.” Even though it has only been a few months since the Corps implemented the new program, TRS has received an impressive amount of positive feedback. “We took the first month’s evaluations, and over 95 percent of the 29 Palms comments have been positive,” Sulick said. “For any program, that’s huge.”

Although 90 days prior to exiting the Corps is the minimum required time to schedule a TRS course, Sulick said Marines and sailors should schedule their attendance one year prior to exiting to allow for enough time to fully take advantage of all the tools the service member will learn about and to properly plan for a successful transition. Two years prior is recommended for retiring members.

This isn’t the end of the road for TRS, either. It is still a young program. As more service members complete the course and offer their own suggestions, the course can be better molded to what the individual needs and wants.

“We never want to stop growing. It’s all in an effort to provide the best program we can,” Sulick said.

Sulick mentioned future plans for TRS as it gathers more steam.

“This is the first phase,” she said. “Full implementation of the Marine Corps’ transition programs will have the individual thinking about their Individual Transition Plan before they even join the Corps, with the recruiter. We want to help them identify their goals We also want to reach out when for when they get out through the Marine For Life Program. It will be a whole-person approach.

To get more information about the TRS, call the Combat Center’s Career Resource Office at 830-7225. You can find more information about TAMP and other recourses for transitioning Marines and sailors at

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