Transitioning from a combat role to civilian life is difficult for many soldiers, but President Barack Obama on Monday announced plans to make it a little smoother. Obama detailed changes to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) that are expected to make life after the military easier for separating servicemembers, Military Times reports.
The changes include the addition of a number of programs including one-on-one counseling, paths for soldiers looking to go to college and other routes for those looking to enter the professional world. Additionally, a long maligned slideshow presentation has been replaced by more modern videos and a shorter briefing. Above all else, however, is that the process will be more individualized.
"We are moving away from the old 'one-size fits all' TAP," a senior White House official told the publication. "It is going to be a little more personalized, more individualized."
There will be a necessary pre-separation counseling, employment workshop and discussions about
financial planning. According to the news source, officials hope that as many as 140,000 more soldiers will take advantage of the TAP now that it has been revamped.
Tweaking the TAP was necessary, especially given the numerous challenges soldiers face once they return home, which have become highlighted in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center revealed just how tough the transition can be.
The findings come from a poll of more than 1,800 veterans. While only about 27 percent said they had difficulty re-entering civilian life, the segment was much bigger – 44 percent – for vets who have served since September 11.
The study also revealed some of the reasons behind the challenges. One of the biggest factors that makes re-entry difficult is psychological trauma. Specifically, about 82 percent of those who did not suffer any psychological trauma had an easy time transitioning, but only about 56 percent of those who did experience some trauma reported the same. Additionally, scientists found servicemembers who were married during deployment often had a more difficult time upon returning.
What effect the new TAP has will be put to the test in the coming months as thousands of soldiers are slated to return home from Afghanistan. According to The Associated Press, about half of the 23,000 soldiers set to leave the country by year's end have already come home.