Making the Transition from Military to Civilian Life

Each Service provides transition assistance programs for retiring service members. They include sessions on DoD and VA benefits, planning for a second career and the Survivor Benefit Plan, among others. It can be beneficial to take advantage of these as soon as you make the decision to retire to make your transition a smooth one. Spouses should sit in on as many sessions as they are allowed to help the couple make decisions as a well-informed team.

In addition, DoD has recently introduced a new tool to help transitioning service members. is DoD's official transition website. TurboTAP is an easy to use, interactive web portal that provides life-long support to separating service members (active duty, Guard, and Reserve) and their families. It is a starting point for accessing key resources available for service members transitioning out of the military at any point in their military career.

TurboTAP was developed through a collaborative partnership among DoD, the Department of Labor, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Education, the Small Business Administration, the National Veterans Business Development Corporation, and the National Guard Bureau. These organizations have integrated their best online tools, information, and support services for the benefit of transitioning service members returning to their homes, communities, and local employers.

TurboTAP is available for life. Service members are encouraged to establish a TurboTAP account, which gives them access to the online TurboTAP Individual Transition Planning Tool and provides them with email alerts when benefits and support services change. Main TurboTAP features include:

  • A multimedia tutorial explaining how to use TurboTAP 
  • Downloadable Preseparation and Transition Guides, helpful checklists, and access to in-person assistance 
  • An Employment Hub with links to job boards, a résumé tool, and job search assistance 
  • A VA Benefits Hub with a full range of benefits information, including a focus on health issues 
  • A TurboTAP Account for transition planning and benefit alerts
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