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Your Career

Getting Out of the Navy

Transition GPS helps Sailors shift into civilian life

Sooner or later, every Sailor will wake up one day and put their uniform on for the very last time. Whether it's after 20 years of service, or just one enlistment, Sailors will eventually return back to the civilian world.

For some, this can be a stressful time. Whether it's school, a new career, or starting a business; many things may be running through a Sailor's head when getting ready to leave the service.

Fortunately, Transition Goals, Plans and Success (TGPS) is there to help.

"Transition Goals, Plans and Success is a five-day workshop program set up, for Sailors, to help get them ready to transition from military life to civilian life," said Ken White, the transition assistant and program manager for Fleet and Family Center San Diego. "Whether you're going to school or getting a job, no matter what area it is in, TGPS is there to help dispel any of the myths that you hear about getting out."

Topics covered during the training include pre-separation counseling, military to civilian crosswalk, a VA benefits briefing, financial planning support, and a job search skills-building workshop.

"Being away from the civilian sector for a while, you definitely want to acclimate back into it and be as current as possible," said Patrick Brasfield, a Navy life and family consultant. "You can expect to become better prepared to separate. Also, you can expect to gain a lot of resources. There's a lot of help out there and [we] will point you in the right direction."

The course, which can hold up to 50 Sailors, is mandatory for all who have served more than 180 continuous days on active duty. It is broken down into four parts: pre-separation counseling, a five-day workshop, career tracks and a capstone.

"This program helps people transition from one part of their life to the next," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Francesca Wright. "TGPS gives you all the tools you need and more for life outside the Navy. The one big thing I take back from this course is that I do have help, I do have options, and I can still use them when I transition out."
Photo collage for TGPS.

The purpose of this course is to give Sailors the necessary skills, tools and confidence to successfully re-enter into the civilian work force.

"For thirty years I never had to write a resume or do an interview to get a job," explained White, a retired command master chief. "When I got out I had to learn how to write a resume to make myself a candidate of choice in order to get an interview, then a job. That's what we teach; the basics of the employment cycle in a collaboration between the Department of Defense, Department of Labor, and Veteran Affairs."

Sailors are also encouraged to bring their spouse to the workshop.

"Spouses are more than welcome to come in to the transitioning classes," said White. "I think the spouses will get a lot out of the budget process. We talk about building a spending plan so you are able to know what you need to make. Spouses will also get enough out of the VA benefits brief so they know how to help their service member file a claim, follow up on appointments, and all that good stuff."

On the first day, instructors teach resiliency and explain ways to translate their skill sets from military jargon into words that civilian employers will understand. This section also focuses on identifying and managing any transition-related stress or conflicts service members and their families may face.

"My favorite part to teach is resiliency," said Brasfield, a retired chief. "Being retired, I know what you are going to face in going through the process. I want to keep them aware that they have lots of skills that transfer over. TGPS gives a lot more than what I received when I was leaving. It's more detailed and up-to-date with the employers from the Department of Labor."

The second day is dedicated to the VA and covers home loans, medical claims, the GI Bill and other veteran benefits.

I'm getting ready to get out and want to make sure I get the best bang for my buck." - Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Covarrubias.

"I plan on getting a house when I get out so the VA home loan was one of the topics I liked," said Covarrubias. "I also didn't know how in depth the VA website was. I just thought it was for benefits, but it pretty much has everything you need."

During the last three days, a representative of the DOL speaks about the employment process, putting together different types of resumes, and learning different interview techniques.

"We do three days with the Department of Labor," said White. "And we talk about how to build a resume, how to get ready for an interview, a little bit of federal resume, and all the other employment stuff to get yourself ready."

Sailors are recommended to start the process by scheduling a pre-separation counseling with their command career counselor at least 12 months prior to separating or 24 months if retiring.

"This is definitely not a waste of time," said Brasfield. "No matter who you are, I can guarantee you are going to gain something from it. The DOL have people who will tell you exactly what employers are looking for. That type of information is priceless."

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Photo collage for TGPS.