From The Military-Civilian Transition Office
ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Department of Defense Military-Civilian Transition Office is closely monitoring impacts to Transition Assistance Program and Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program events as a result of the outbreak of the respiratory illness caused by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, known as COVID-19.
COVID-19 continues to spread and is an increasing force health protection threat in areas where DoD personnel live and work.
The Defense Department issued instructions to the armed services and department heads on how to respond to implications of COVID-19 on March 8. The memo signed by the official performing the duties of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD P&R) outlines a wide range of options to commanders and directors for decision-making in light of this growing situation.
Read the memo here:
“The Department of Defense has outlined a specific risk-based framework to guide planning, posture and actions needed to protect DoD personnel and support mission assurance in response to the novel coronavirus disease,” the memo says. “DoD component heads and military commanders should follow these risk-based measures, with appropriate consultation and coordination, to protect the health and safety of the workforce.”
The Defense Department is a worldwide organization and the virus outbreak is in different stages in different parts of the globe.
In the military FHP area, there are five levels of action:
1. The first is prior to community transmission and is labeled routine. Commanders should review and update installation plans and work to maximize telework possibilities.
2. The second is when community transmission begins and is labeled limited. Commanders need to re-emphasize health and hygiene and ensure service members and employees avoid contact with sick people.
3. The third is labeled moderate and is when there is increased community transmission. This level allows commanders to restrict service members from travel. They should also ensure that personal protective equipment is available for high-risk personnel.
4. Sustained community transmission is labeled substantial. This fourth level of action allows commanders to declare public health emergencies and place limits on access to the installations.
Commanders should consider what needs to change in regard to the force exercise program. For those overseas, commanders may want to consider authorized and ordered departure actions.
5. The fifth and final level of action is labeled severe. It is for widespread community transmission. This allows restricting movement, canceling non-mission essential activities, cancellation of exercises, canceling all non-essential leave or travel and instituting a quarantine.
“This outbreak is dynamic and manifests differently by location, setting, population and individual,” a second memo on force health protection from personnel and readiness says. “As a result, responses to (coronavirus) will need to be flexible, tailored and incremental.”
While the DoD continues to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s lead, additional military specific measures are authorized by current policy when needed to mitigate risk to U.S. forces stationed around the world and to protect service members, DoD civilian employees and contractor personnel, and family members.
Impacts to the Transition Assistance Program:
The rescheduling of TAP events due to COVID-19 are service-specific, at the discretion and decision of commanders, and based off of framework guidance issued by OUSD P&R.
TAP is a service-executed program and final decisions on TAP events are up to commanders. However, MCTO recommends the following:
– Reduce TAP class size and follow CDC guidance on large gatherings and social distancing.
– Move TAP events to a virtual platform, such as the Defense Collaboration Service, hosted the Defense Information Systems Agency.
“We understand the impact COVID-19 has on the community as a whole and the unique challenges it presents in regard to TAP service delivery,” said Tamre Newton, director of MCTO. “The guidance issued
by OUSD P&R gives commanders the flexibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of transitioning service members, their families, and caregivers while still ensuring they receive the resources and transition support they require for a successful transition to civilian life.”
Impacts to the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program:
In replacement of in-person events, YRRP is working to release an online event tool, available to the Reserve Component (RC) at www.YellowRibbon.mil.
The tool is designed to provide deployment-cycle support to National Guard and Reserve service members and their families in situations in which they are unable to attend in-person events.
“While this tool is not a replacement for in-person events, it is meant to be a fallback for situations when there is simply no other alternative,” said Peter Toelle, chief of YRRP.
Service members and their families, resource providers and community partners who are registered to attend upcoming in-person YRRP events will receive status updates through their RC representative.
Registered attendees can also contact their event point of contact by accessing the confirmation link provided at the time of registration.
“YRRP’s mission doesn’t change if in-person events are temporarily restricted,” said Toelle. “National Guard and Reserve service members continue to mobilize, so we will continue to provide support throughout the deployment-cycle regardless of the format.”
For more DoD information on COVID-19, visit: https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/Coronavirus/ for information on staying healthy during the outbreak.
INFORMATION ON THE MILITARY-CIVILIAN TRANSITION OFFICE:
The DoD Military-Civilian Transition Office formed as a result of a merger between two DoD programs under the Defense Human Resources Activity’s Defense Personnel and Family Support Center to provide streamlined services to members of the armed forces and their families.
The Office for Reintegration Programs (ORP) combined with the DoD’s Transition to Veterans Program Office (TVPO) to efficiently deliver resources to transitioning service members, members of the National Guard and Reserve, their families and communities worldwide in January 2020.