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New transition classes available at all bases

Dec. 6, 2012 - 01:19PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 6, 2012 - 01:19PM  |  
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right, accompanied by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, gestures Dec. 6 during their joint news conference at the Veterans Affairs Central Office in Washington.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right, accompanied by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, gestures Dec. 6 during their joint news conference at the Veterans Affairs Central Office in Washington. (Susan Walsh / AP)
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The long-awaited overhaul of the military's Transition Assistance Program is now operational at all 206 military installations worldwide, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today.

The three-day class that helps prepare service members for the civilian job market is now a requirement for all separating troops, in keeping with a law enacted in 2011, Panetta said.

This replaces the patchwork of voluntary programs that were offered across the force in recent years, which varied substantially from one command to another and were often criticized by troops as essentially unhelpful.

"This is in many ways a national security issue. It gets to the heart of taking care of the people who fight for us, and ensuring that we can then recruit the very best force that is possible," Panetta said Thursday at a joint news conference in Washington with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

The new TAP program will offer troops detailed guidance on preparing a resume, job-hunting resources, interview skills, and managing personal finances as a civilian.

The new program comes in response to persistently high levels of veterans' unemployment. In October, the unemployment rate for veterans who have served in uniform since 2001 was 10 percent, compared to 7.4 percent for non-veterans, according to the Department of Labor.

A second phase of the new TAP program will be implemented during 2013 and will offer further instruction tailored for troops who want to attend school or start their own business, defense officials say.

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