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Military Separation Timeline

Transitioning can be stressful and overwhelming, but you’re not alone; we’re here to help. Use our guide to assist you throughout the process.

18 Months to Separation

Before you join the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), start by considering your options:

  • Where do I want to live?
  • Does my military occupation translate to a civilian job?
  • Do I want to pursue a civilian career similar to what I did in the military?
  • Do I want to go back to school full time? Part time?
  • Do I have a good idea of when I’ll be separating?

As you move forward, you might change your plan. But everything will go more smoothly if you keep your overall goals in mind:

  • Learn about the GI Bill and Tuition Assistance benefits, considering what school and degree you would like to pursue.
  • Make an appointment with your local Transition Counselor:
    • The Army’s Soldiers for Life program has resources of value for any military member.
    • The Marines for Life program is aimed at Marines but has resources that all military members may find useful.
    • The Coast Guard's Work-Life Division offers a Transition Assistance Program. Coast Guard Work-Life Staff can be found at your nearest integrated support command.

12 Months to Separation

Whether you’re thinking about starting your own business, going back to school, or jumping into the workforce, there are a few things you should be doing:

  • Review your Pre-Separation Checklist (DD-2648).
  • Attend a TAP Workshop.
  • Develop an Individual Transition Plan.
  • Begin your job search!
  • Become familiar with Military Friendly Employers and research their military engagement, recruiting, support efforts and Employee Resource Groups (ERG).
  • If you plan to go to school, consider taking CLEP exams to earn college credit.
  • Get your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) (all except Coast Guard).

7-10 Months to Separation

  • Develop your personal and professional network. For instance, LinkedIn has resources, organizations, and webinars – plus, it’s a great source for career opportunities. Active duty military and veterans can receive a FREE one-year Premium Job Seeker account on LinkedIn.
  • Become familiar with resume tools like the Skills Translator.
  • Assess your need for employment assistance programs.
  • Start drafting your resume.

4-6 Months to Separation

  • Start applying for jobs.
  • Learn about and prepare for your new civilian career’s dress code.
  • Learn about Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP).

3 Months to Separation

  • Familiarize yourself with your future hometown.
  • Focus on the companies you’d like to work for and become familiar with company goals, history and culture.
  • Make sure you have a copy of your military service and medical records for reference as you apply for services from the VA.

Upon Separation

  • The most important piece of paper will be your DD-214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty). Always have multiple certified copies in a safe place.
  • Continue to network on LinkedIn and stay involved on social media.