Unemployment Compensation for Soldiers leaving the Army during fiscal year 2016 dropped to the lowest amount recorded in 13 years.
The Army ended the year at $172.8 million, according to the Department of Labor’s unemployment compensation report. Army expenditures had peaked in 2011, at $515 million. This is the first time expenditures dropped below $200 million since 2003.
In the last four years the Army has saved over $900 million in cost avoidance for unemployment compensation expenditures through programs like the Installation Management Command Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program, which prepares Soldiers for finding employment in the civilian sector when they leave active service.
“The significant reduction in the Army’s bill for unemployment compensation, along with the reduction in the national Veteran unemployment rate, can be attributed to the diligence of the team of teams at IMCOM’s SFL-TAP centers who are selfless, passionate and dedicated to this important mission,” said IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Melissa Judkins.
IMCOM executes SFL-TAP by providing resources, guidance and support to 73 centers world-wide. The command markets the program to Soldiers, provides direct funding and manpower, develops standardized training and monitors the execution of the program.
When Soldiers receive unemployment compensation from a state agency, the Department of Labor bills the Army for reimbursement. Reducing the number of Soldiers receiving compensation by assisting them in their transition to the civilian sector benefits both the Army and the Federal Government in cost avoidance savings.
In 2016 alone, over 117,000 Soldiers successfully transitioned into the civilian community using SFL-TAP services.
“We are excited to see that more Army Veterans are finding careers after they transition off of active duty service, and fewer are having to file for unemployment compensation,” said retired Col. Walter Herd, Director of the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program, based out of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Although experience shows veterans generally enjoy a favorable employment rate in the nation’s job market, many veterans initially find it difficult to compete successfully in the civilian labor market. SFL-TAP Centers help Soldiers alleviate many employment-related difficulties and prepare them for success.
IMCOM SFL-TAP Centers have partnered with the Department of Labor, DOD, the Small Business Administration, and Veterans Affairs to provide employment and training information to Soldiers and their eligible spouses within one year of their separation or two years of their retirement from the military.
“This is a positive step for our Soldiers and our Nation as we continue to support and provide the assistance Soldiers need as they transition off of active duty service,” Judkins said.
“However, as we transition 90-thousand-plus Soldiers per year for the next 3-5 years, it’s imperative for the Army to maintain the momentum to keep Veteran unemployment low and continue to reduce UCX for the Army,” she concluded.
For more information about the Soldier for Life program, visit http://soldierforlife.army.mil.
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How SFL-TAP supports Wiesbaden
Though Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program is a DA-level program run by the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, it’s executed locally by the Installation Management Command.
The local SFL-TAP assistance center processes about 316 Soldiers each year as they transition from military to civilian employment, said Brad Gavle, the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Transition Services Manager.
“The key to a good transition is to start as early as possible,” Gavle said. “You will want to take some of the workshops more than once as you adjust your transition plan.”
Soldiers are twice as likely to get a job if they start their job search six months or more before transition, he said. Hiring our Heroes data shows that Soldiers who start late are going to earn less than those who start early.
The SFL-TAP also coordinates job fairs through a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program. In 2016, more than 3,000 Soldiers were hired by 629 employers after taking part in interviews at Hiring Our Heroes events.
Planning is underway for the 2017 job fairs. Wiesbaden will host the Army Community Services Career Fair, March 24 at the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Hiring Our Heroes Transition Summit will be July 27 to 28 at the Wiesbaden Fitness Center.
For more information stop by the Soldier For Life, Transition Assistance Center or contact Brad Gavle, USAG Wiesbaden Transition Services Manager, civ (0611) 143-548-1304 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SFL-TAP is located in Bldg. 1023E Room 154 and is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and on training holidays.
SFL-TAP provides Soldier career transition services
The Soldier For Life — Transition Assistance Program provides transitioning services to Soldiers who have completed at least 180 days of continuous active duty service. SFL-TAP consists of comprehensive three-day workshops at selected IMCOM installations worldwide. Professionally-trained facilitators from state employment service offices, military family support services, the Department of Labor and Department of Veterans Affairs present the workshops.
Soldiers learn about job searches, career decision-making, current occupational and labor market conditions, resume and cover letter preparation, and interviewing techniques.
Participants are also provided with an evaluation of their employability relative to the job market and receive information on Veterans’ benefits.
SFL-TAP remains a commander’s program that encourages the idea of going early and often to receive transition services in order to be more prepared for transition. Soldiers are encouraged to start the program 18 months prior to their transition date or 24 months prior for retirees. The earlier a Soldier starts the program, the better prepared they are for transition from active duty to the civilian sector.