This guide is meant as a reference. If you find errors or omissions or notes that you think are important for the people who follow you to know, please take notes and let us know. We consider this a living document.
Over a year out, start looking for mentors, coaches, and communities that will help you transition. You know: like Rainier Cyber.
Get your wills, powers of attorneys, and other legal documents knocked out while you have access to free legal assistance.
About a year out, pull your medical records and find a VSO (Veterans Service Organization) that will help you navigate the VA.
If you are ETSing or going through UQR, schedule your VA medical evaluation at a convenient time.
Start researching things like insurance plans (HMO vs PPO).
SFL-TAP: Soldier for Life - Transition Assistance Program. You can schedule this up to one year out from ETS date. Clearing SFL-TAP is required to get orders/clearing papers and unlocks multiple other opportunities such as internships (Rainier Cyber can help secure internships).
SFL-TAP in-brief (pre-separation and initial counseling): You can either do the in-brief physically in person or through schedule to join their conference call. This in-brief is where you start the SFL-TAP process. You cannot schedule anything else (like the DOL workshop) without this in-brief. The in person option can have a three-month wait to start depending on post. The phone option usually has space within a week. You can schedule your conference call in-brief at the 24-hour SFL-TAP hotline at 1-800-325-4715.
SFL-TAP Class COA 1 – This is the best option. Go in-person to all five days, Monday to Friday. Uniform is professional business attire. The middle three days (Wednesday-Thursday) is the DOL Workshop. There are some good nuggets here and a lot of dedicated time to work on your resume, LinkedIn profile, personal statement, and just general time dedicated to some reflection and figuring out what you want to do when you get out.
SFL-TAP Class COA 2 - Do your in-brief and then you can schedule the 5-day program. Go first day and last day. You can get excused from the DOL workshop when a company wants to hire you and gives you an offer letter. We recommend you physically go to the DOL workshop but we want you to know that this is an option.
SFL-TAP COA 3 - Complete initial counseling and then complete the SFL-TAP Class Days 1&5 online at JKO (See COA 2 for info about the DOL workshop). Check to ensure the following JKO list is current! JKO SFL-TAP Equivalency
SFL-TAP close out - at the end of the 5-day course, you either have to schedule an out-counseling with your SFL-TAP counselor. Often this takes 4-6 weeks to get on their calendar. The alternate option is to complete Individual Transition Plan (ITP)sections 1, 2, and 6, make a note of your company commander’s email address, and then call the SFL-TAP 24-hour counseling hotline at 1-800-325-4715. The hotline can click the button that sends the DD2648 to your company commander for signature that completes SFL-TAP. SFL-TAP is congressionally mandated so service members must complete it. Your unit legal should do Post Government Service Employment Restriction Counseling at this time but expect to drive that process yourself. See below.
In this stage, review your SRB (ERB/ORB) and make sure it’s up to date! The SRB is what the Transition Office uses to generate your DD-214. This is especially true for combat deployments. They will NOT accept orders as proof of deployment, they only accept a deployment if listed on SRB.
Transition Award - you can start this award as soon as you have your ETS date. This award covers every duty position for your entire Army service. MSMs are not uncommon for SFC/CPT and above but require a GO signature so plan on additional time. You earned this.
Household goods - You can start this before closing out. The Army will only pay to move your things as far as your home of record. Anything past that you have to pay additional fees. After complete, you cannot submit your voucher until AFTER your final ETS/Retirement day.
Leave Form - You can start this as soon as you have your ETS date. To determine the number of leave days authorized days equals
MOD[(current days accrued)-(planned absences prior to final out)+2.5*(months of service remaining)]
Or just use 2.5days per month and roundDOWN. (ex: 31.5 days -> 31 days)
Clear CIF - You can clear CIF whenever your commander is willing to take the risk of giving you an early turn-in memo. This memo must include the exact item, quantity, and NSN you are attempting to turn in. More likely, you will have to wait until you have orders. This can be one of themost stressfulparts about clearing so attempt early and often until you are complete. CIF requires you schedule a turn-in block for bulk turn-in so schedule as early as possible.
Clear Unit - You must pick up clearing papers at the unit before picking up papers at the Welcome Center. Then you have some flexibility on your clear unit schedule but will touch the unit a few times while clearing post.
Clear Post - You will go back to the unit for some of this and especially at Brigade S1 for the PERSTEMPO.You can’t clear the Welcome Center without an updated PERSTEMPO.
Post Government Service Employment Restriction Counseling - This is probably not included in clearing. You will need an Ethics Letter from Designated Ethics Official (DEO). Fill out DD-2945 and take your last NCOER/OER to unit legal for help with your Ethics Letter. This letter outlines your left and right limits and any cool off periods you might have after leaving the military.
After clearing finance, you clear the Transition Center. This is where you get your DD-214, American Flag, etc. Bring your ORB to help make corrections There are multiple versions of the DD-214. There’s the Form 1 (Short Form) and the Form 4 (long form). It’s important to know that you cannot get another copy of the DD-214 Form 4. Immediately copy, scan, and secure. Additionally, any municipalities require a DD-214 paper copy for benefits. Any FOIA request about you at one of these municipalities will release your DD-214 with essentially your entire identity attached. Recommendation: credit monitoring!
Final Out - After you clear the Welcome Center (Finance, etc), your actual final out is with your unit. This is probably with your unit S1. They sign, you drive. It’s time to start your next career.