GROTON, Conn. - As the Fleet and Family Support Center quickly adapts to meet clients’ needs through online, video and telework resources, we’ve kept abreast of how other TAP programs throughout the FFSC system have adjusted their service delivery and stayed informed about changes in access to VA and GI Bill benefits. We have learned that the job market is ever-evolving during this dynamic time. By tapping into the best practices of other DoD programs, the FFSC has adapted and adjusted service delivery across all transition programs.

First, programs across the country have moved delivery of the congressionally mandated curriculum of TAP to JKO. In New London, April and May TAP classes have been moved completely to JKO delivery. This allows for the flexibility that comes with the “right time, right place” convenience of an electronic platform. Pre-separation counseling and CAPSTONE appointments are being completed via teleconference with an FFSC TAP staff member or can be completed by your Command Career Counselor.

If you are uncertain about your future career plans, perhaps CONSEP (Career Options and Navy Skills Evaluation Program) is the course for you. We offer first-term and mid-career service members training on career opportunities available in the Navy and in the civilian sector. In addition, did you know that you might have the option to extend your service in 3-11 month increments if you do not feel ready to separate due to challenges created by COVID-19? FFSC staff can discuss that option with you.

One of the immediate challenges for transitioning sailors will be entrance to the job market. It is more important than ever to know that FFSC Family Employment Readiness Program (FERP) staff can help Sailors navigate uncertainty through specific skill development such as networking or with opportunities to pursue higher education. We provide résumé assistance, opportunities to practice interview questions, dress-for-success tips and access to online job fairs. Sailors can be confident they will have the tools to be well prepared to join the civilian job market.

Spouses and family members can use all FFSC employment services. This availability is particularly critical for spouses who may face an unexpected new job search due to a COVID-19 layoff or a reduction in income.

Despite some rumors to the contrary, VA benefits are not being reduced and GI Bill benefits, including housing allowance, are not affected, despite the move to online classes. Where else will you see changes? There are some changes to Skill Bridge including some lost internships and other added opportunities to include spouses. Finally, this rapidly evolving environment has advanced opportunities for teleworking, which it is likely to be the future of DoD and civilian business.

We are using non-traditional and innovative solutions to combat the isolation of physical distancing measures now in place and to find new ways to strengthen our sense of community in the future. The FFSC is working hard to incorporate new technologies that will foster a sense of connectedness and in turn build a foundation for success. For some Sailors, the combination of transition and COVID-19 has

created a higher level of stress. FFSC staff understands the difficulty this creates and prioritizes teaching coping skills necessary to meet these challenges. As the FFSC accelerates the capability to deliver services through new technologies, it will be Sailors and family members, like you, who will reap the benefits.

As we continue to learn about the effects of COVID19 on TAP service delivery and the near-term job market, will we modify our programs accordingly and meet the Navy’s needs during these unprecedented circumstances.

Connecticut Media Group