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The transition from government service – especially from service in uniform – to the private sector can provide many surprises and a few shocks.  Many uniformed Guardians (especially junior enlistees ending their first enlistment) have unrealistic expectations about what their futures hold.  In addition, Public Law 103-337 requires all Coast Guard commands to offer pre-separation counseling no less than 90 days before separation to all members being discharged, released from active duty, medically discharged, or retired.  To make sure everything's been covered, many commands use the DoD's "Pre-separation Counseling Checklist" for regular and Reserve Coast Guard personnel.

All uniformed Coast Guard personnel who are re-entering the civilian world – whether via retirement, resignation, or the expiration of an enlistment – should make a point of attending at least one Transition Assistance Program (TAP) seminars.  If nothing else, they will help you remember the dozens of things you should consider and do when getting ready to leave the military.  They also help you get a realistic picture of what the civilian world of work looks like today and is likely to look like in the future.

The material linked to the menu at the left will give you an idea of the current job market (what different career fields generally pay, what education levels are usual for different career fields, etc.) and point you to excellent career interest inventories (to help you figure out what post-military career might be good for you).  You will also have a quick link to the Troops to Teachers and the Helmets to Hardhats programs.

On-line information about transition assistance is available through the following sites:

Pre-Separation Timeline: Major Events You Should Consider During Your Last Six Months in Uniform


180-150 Days

  • Attend a Transition Assistance Program seminar.
  • If not able to attend TAP seminar, schedule pre-separation counseling appointment.
  • Develop Individual Transition Plan.
  • Research job market. Assess your skills and interests.

150-120 Days

  • Start networking - contact friends in the private sector.
  • Attend job fairs.

  • Research job possibilities, markets and economic conditions.
  • Make financial plan for your transitional period.

120-90 Days

  • Visit your Reserve Component Career Counselor
  • Receive your Verification of Military Experience and Training (DD214) document.
  • Complete first draft of your resume.
  • Visit your Education Services Office.
  • Schedule your physical examination.
  • Learn about your transitional health care options.
  • If you qualify-Submit (Leave/Permissive TDY) to unit commander.

90-60 Days

  • Arrange transportation counseling
  • Schedule final dental examination.
  • Make copies of personnel and medical records.
  • Determine eligibility for separation pay.
  • Obtain free legal advice/prepare will at local Staff Judge Advocate/Legal Assistance.
  • Begin automated job search.
  • Complete DORS resume.
  • Send out resumes.
  • Assemble your civilian job search wardrobe.

Pre-Separation Guide

The Coast Guard has an excellent downloadable Pre-Separation Guide.  In it, you can find information about

  • the effects of changing careers,
  • employment assistance,

  • relocation assistance,
  • education and training,
  • health and life insurance,
  • finances,
  • affiliating with the Reserves,
  • disabled veteran benefits, and
  • individual transition plans.

Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Seminars

TAP seminars are offered at various locations throughout the year.  Unfortunately, I've been unable to find a master list of where and when they're held.  Check with your Work-Life representative for more information.  Below is a list of seminars being held in Pacific Area and Atlantic Area through 2013.

  • 15-19 July (PSC; Arlington, VA)¹
  • 12-16 August (Recruiting Command; Arlington, VA)¹
  • 09-13 September (CG Air Station; Atlantic City, NJ)¹
  • 07-11 October (Yard; Baltimore, MD)¹
  • 18-22 November 2013 (TISCOM; Alexandria, VA)¹
To reserve a seat, e-mail Gary Adams or call him at 202-372-4089.²  Click here for all PacArea particulars.

While attending, you must be on permissive (no-cost) orders regardless of where you are stationed (for Dept of Labor statistics purposes).  And you must be in class the entire time (Monday - Friday).

If you're unable to meet these criteria, contact Gary Adams if you're in Atlantic Area or C. J. Johnson if you're in Pacific Area.

Keep in mind that you can attend DoD TAP seminars as well as those offered by the Coast Guard.  For more information and to reserve a seat, call the appropriate person below:

There are also many in the Norfolk, VA area.  See the FY13 schedule for particulars.  For more information, e-mail Debbi Cauley or call her at 757-444-3522.

You an also download a booklet about the program to get an idea of what the seminars cover.


TurboTAP Web Site


The Department of Defense, Department of Labor, and Department of Veterans Affairs have contracted with a web site developer to create TurboTAP, to help military personnel who are re-entering the civilian world.

From TurboTAP you can

  • download official DoD Pre-Separation Guides,

  • create an Individual Transition Plan,

  • find employment assistance, and

  • find a portal through which you can find out about all benefits available to you through the federal government or your state.

Transition-related Publications & Web Sites

Below is a far-from-exhaustive list of books you might find useful in your transition to a civilian career.

  • Military to Federal Career Guide: Ten Steps to Transforming Your Military Experience into a Competitive Federal Résumé

  • Excuse Me, Your Job is Waiting: Attract the Work You Want

  • One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success

  • Change Your Career: Transitioning to the Nonprofit Sector

  • 150 Best Jobs Through Military Training

  • Working With You is Killing Me: Freeing Your Self from Emotional Traps at Work

  • Corporate Gray

Go here to access articles on all aspects of the civilian job search.  Go here for information on preparing for an interview.  And for on-line résumé builders, here is a small sample of the many sites available:

And if you're interested in a civil service-type job in an international organization, check out the following:

  • United Nations careers


  • UNAIDS (UN Programme on HIV/AIDS)

  • UNDP (UN Development Programme)

  • UNESCO (UN Education, Scientific, and Cultural Oranization)

  • UNFAO (UN Food and Agricultural Organization)

  • UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)

  • UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees)

  • UNPFA (United Nations Population Fund)

  • UNFPA (UN Population Fund)


  • UNWFP (World Food Programme)

  • UNWHO (World Health Organization)

  • UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific)

  • CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization)

  • ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean)

  • International Trade Centre

  • ILO (International Labor Organization)

  • IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)

  • ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization)

  • IFAD (Int'l Fund for Agricultural Development)

  • IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture)

  • IMO (International Maritime Organization)

  • ITU (Int'l Telecommunication Union)

  • IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)

  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

  • OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)

  • OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons)

  • OAS (Organization of American States)

  • PAHO (Pan American Health Organization)

  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community

  • WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)


How Much Would You Need to Earn Outside the Military to Equal Your Military Compensation?


Even in the current economy, a lot of people are thinking of leaving the Coast Guard for a civilian career.  If you’re one of them, check out the military-to-civilian pay calculator on the G.I. Jobs web site.  What you learn may surprise you.

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Last Modified 1/12/2016
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