As the Army continues to downsize, the service is adding new ways to stabilize the transition of soldiers to civilian life, while also reducing the cost of unemployment.
Changes to the Enlisted Voluntary Separation Program allow soldiers with a job offer to leave the Army up to six months early, if approved by their commander.
“The more people we get to work, the less we have to pay for 50 to 136 weeks of unemployment,” said Martin Traylor, operations officer at Fort Hood’s Army Career and Alumni Program.
It also boosts a person’s self-esteem to have meaningful employment, he added.
“It lets the soldier get into the driver’s seat,” Traylor said.
The previous voluntary separation policy was for soldiers planning to attend college, allowing separation up to 90 days early to begin the start of a semester. That policy remains in effect.
To separate early for employment, soldiers must have a job offer with salary, and must have completed all requirements through ACAP. During ACAP courses, soldiers create a budget and the salary on the job offer must cover the budget, Traylor said.
“They must show it meets their financial needs,” he said.
The involuntary separation program also saw a change. For some time, soldiers with a separation date during their unit’s deployment would be offered the chance to re-enlist, extend or choose a different unit or military occupational specialty. If they didn’t, they would be involuntarily separated up to one year before their separation date. That remains in effect.
The big change is that the policy now also covers units scheduled to inactivate.
In this case, soldier will be given 45 days to extend or re-enlist from the time they’re notified. If the soldier chooses not to extend or re-enlist, separation would be reduced up to a year’s time, but not less than 90 days for the transition/separation processing.
“I expect them both to be used,” Traylor said of the changes. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of soldier requiring separation. ... This allows the ability for soldiers to be more proactive to find a job and find it now.”
About 1,000 soldiers a month separate from the Army at Fort Hood.
Traylor recommends soldier begin the separation process through ACAP 12 to 18 months out. For retiring soldiers, he suggests 24 months.
“The plan only gets better the longer you work it,” he said.