Retired colonel uses SFL-TAP to find civilian job

Since transitioning out of the Army almost nine months ago, retired Col. John Wasko has worked as a specialist leader at Deliotte Consulting in its Annapolis Junction office. (Photo courtesy of John Wasko)

Retired Col. John Wasko served over 25 years in the Army.

Seven months from transitioning out, he started setting the foundation to find what is now his current job at Deloitte Consulting, a multinational professional services firm, largely working out of its Annapolis Junction office.

Employed as a specialist leader since July 2016, Wasko officially retired from the Army in September.

Wasko participated in two weeklong Solider For Life-Transition Assistance Program courses to prepare him for the civilian world.

“It’s a significant transition,” Wasko said. “There are no assignment officers. You can do anything you want, which is different than the kind of regimented lifestyle service members have.”

SFL-TAP’s mission is to help “members of the Army, Army civilian employees, and their families to be successful in their transition from military and federal service,” according to the SFL-TAP website.

“The core class is an essential weeklong thing,” Wasko said, who attended courses at Fort Meade and Fort Myer, Va., which are available to all transitioning service members and their spouses.

Supplemental training sessions are available for various career interests, such as starting a business or finding federal employment. SFL-TAP also hosts job seminars, bringing local business recruiters to installations and making them more accessible to Soldiers.

Through SFL-TAP, Wasko learned how to use social media in a professional setting, updated his resume to reflect his military experience in civilian terms, and connected to a network of other service members also transitioning out of the military.

“The bonds you form through your military service are lifelong bonds,” Wasko said. “I served five more years than what I needed to retire, but I think it was time for me to go.”

Wasko’s first step of transitioning out of the Army was to figure out what he truly wanted to do. He applied the information from the SFL-TAP courses to achieve his civilian job aspirations.

“SFL-TAP helps you think about all the options available,” he said. “It puts meat on the bones of the process from where you’re at to where you want to be.”

On To Success

While SFL-TAP provides counselors for transitioning service members, Wasko said one of the most valuable resources are veterans who have been through the process.

“I’m helping people now the way others helped me,” Wasko said. “If you’re a veteran and you’re transitioning and you haven’t reached out to other vets, you’re missing a great resource.”

Reaching out to fellow veterans and retirees can provide answers to questions and ease concerns of service members transitioning out of the military.

“It could also be a job opportunity or [a way to get] plugged into the right people,” Wasko said.

Wasko offered advice to service members who are transitioning within the 18-month transition window.

“Start early and learn as much as you can about the job or jobs you think you want to make the most informed choice.”

Almost nine months out of the Army, Wasko is still acclimating to his new job.

“I’m still in that transition,” he said. “… I sincerely believe most veterans can find a job.  Be prepared to be uncomfortable for a while.

“Millions of military service members have transitioned. You will too.”

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