Transition Model

Transition takes work, but you do not have to do it alone. CAF TG has developed a model for transition with a five-step process. This model will help you understand the different phases of transition, and the various actions you should take during your career, to ensure you are “ready to transition” when the time comes.

Full accessible descriptions of charts and graphs coming soon


Diagram 3 - Transition Model describes the five steps through the transition process from military to civilian life.

The first three steps should be undertaken during your career, with Step 4 to be embarked on when you have decided to release, in order to complete Step 5 successfully.

Step 1 - Understand Transition

  • At the beginning of your career, you need to be aware that you will eventually leave the CAF and that you need to prepare your transition well in advance;
  • Register for a MyVAC account;
  • Keep informed about the various benefits that the CAF and VAC have to support transitioning personnel for which you could be entitled;
  • Have a financial plan that includes planning for the future; and
  • Complete a Long Term Planning (LTP) Seminar with your local Base/Wing or formation Personnel Selection Officers (PSO) to understand what you need to think about.

Step 2 - Plan for Transition (Throughout Career)

  • Understand the domains of well-being, and build your own (and also your family’s) resilience by managing your well-being as you progress through your career (consider conducting personal well-being checks annually);
  • Receive transition briefs at key points during your career linked to your Terms of Service (TOS) to learn what they are and how is this managed;
  • Learn about Government of Canada (GoC)/CAF/VAC tools and portals that can assist in your transition, specifically MyVAC account;
  • Conduct in-service education programs and understand how they may assist your post service; and
  • At least five to ten years prior to intended release, attend a Second Career Assistance Network (SCAN) seminar; and
  • Start exploring online SCAN.

Step 3 - Train for Transition (In-Service and Release Phase)

  • Attend a SCAN seminar, and if being released medically, a Medical SCAN;
  • Familiarize yourself and your spouse with the online SCAN;
  • Attend a Career Transition Workshop;
  • Access VAC Career Transition Services;
  • Build a network of support and resources who have transitioned successfully;
  • If medically releasing, explore Vocational Rehabilitation Program for Serving Members (VRPSM);
  • Consider your skills, competencies, and interests for future projects;
  • Develop your resumé;
  • Discuss post-military career options with your family; and
  • Involve your family in discussing where you might settle post release.

Step 4 - Undergo a Personalized Transition Experience

The personalized transition process is in development and will be available at your local CAF TU or TC. Until this service is available, you could contact your local Base / Wing PSO for an appointment for career/education/second career counselling.

  • Meet your transition advisor (TA) who is your/your family’s personal POC for transition;
  • Complete the Transition Interview/Conditions check;
  • Complete your VAC Transition Interview and if applicable apply for VAC benefits;
  • Your results will lead to determination of low/moderate/complex needs;
  • With the TA, formulate the transition plan and anticipated transition timeline based on personal and family needs;
  • Implement the transition plan and ensure a feedback loop between TA/family members and yourself to align to the complexity level;
  • Complete transition plan and concurrently complete all transition checklist items;
  • Receive the confirmation that your family and you are “ready to transition”; and
  • Attend a final transition meeting and ensure all CAF/VAC administration is complete and positive handoff with VAC.

Step 5 - Transition Successfully and Re-Establish in Civilian Life

  • Remember that transition is not a finite period of time, it is an ongoing life process;
  • Find ways to stay connected to your military friends;
  • Embrace the changes within your new environment; and
  • Reach back to the CAF and/or VAC for assistance if required (visit a CAF TU or CAF TC at any time).

Get the Most Out of Your Transition

Transition can be a positive or a negative experience, depending on how you approach it. Here are some tips to improve the chances of making your transition a period of growth and enjoyment:

Prepare: Use the Internet, do research, talk to people, set goals, and start putting strategies in place now. Start planning early, at least a year before you transition.

Get going: Don’t procrastinate. Don’t doubt yourself, or let yourself dwell on regrets.

Market yourself: Don’t be afraid to highlight all your achievements. While this is not generally the way things are done in the military, it will help you achieve your goals in civilian life. Ensure that you can talk about the skills you have to offer. Understand and use civilian terms for military roles and responsibilities.

Work at it: Plan your transition like you would any other project: set deadlines, anticipate obstacles, and prepare contingencies. Established a regular routine and stick to it.

Lighten up: Don’t allow yourself to get too intense. The military traditionally holds onto a sense of humor during adversity. This is worth remembering during your transition as well.

Keep your family involved: During your military career, your family may have made sacrifices to support you, and may not have had much control over that. Involve them in decision-making about the future.

Connect: Get in touch with others you know who have already left – to build on your networks and learn about what they did to make the leaving experience easy.

Volunteer: Get involved in volunteer work. This can help you get a better idea of how your skills transfer to a civilian environment. It can also assist you in getting to know people in the community and help build networks.

Take opportunities to train: As part of your transition, you may get the chance to take time off to train. Use these opportunities. Also, take advantage of any other opportunities to acquire skills, whether they are through the military or with other agencies.

Adapt to your surroundings: Be aware that the social norms and rules that were uppermost in the military may not have the same value in a civilian organization. Make the effort to adapt to your new environment, while retaining your military values.

In-Service Transition Options

Not all transitions need to involve leaving the CAF. You can explore other options for both full-time and part-time work.

You don’t have to “get out” of the CAF to change your employment

  • Voluntary Occupation Transfer
  • Leave Without Pay
  • Formal Flexible Working Arrangements
  • Planned Working Time (Part Time)
  • Talk to your chain of command about posting possibilities
  • Parental Leave
  • Education Leave
  • Component Transfer
    • Regular to Reserve
    • Reserve to Regular
    • Canadian Organization Administration and Training System (COATS) or Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC)
    • Canadian Rangers
    • Supplementary Reserves
  • DND Civilian Employment
  • Other Federal Public Service opportunities

Component Transfers

Have you considered joining the Res F or, if you are in the Reserves, considered joining the Reg F? Have you considered a sub-component of the Reserves?

Continuing service in the Reserves can provide you with a sense of connection, financial security, and can reduce the loss of camaraderie and shared history.

The Res F consist of enthusiastic part-time professionals who train during their spare time, mainly on weekends, and get the best of both civilian and military life. You could be a valuable addition to these units and would be able to keep the best aspects of the military as you transition into civilian life – as well as bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to these units.

Res F deploy and contribute to large-scale exercises around the world, so by remaining a part of the Reserves after your Reg F service, you too may get the same exciting opportunities. Reserves also have the opportunity for full-time engagements to further their careers.

Certain Sub components of the Reserves, such as Rangers, COATS, or the Supplementary Reserves, can continue to give you a sense of connection and belonging as well as increase your opportunity to transfer back to the Primary Reserves (P Res) or the Reg F.

The Reg F is also a good option for those Reservists who want to continue their service full-time. Remember that the CAF has invested in your training, and you may still be able to contribute to the CAF mission.

The Chain of Command

If you are not posted to the CAF Transition Unit during your transition period, your parent unit will still remain your home unit. You need to inform your immediate supervisor of your intention to release from CAF and to transition to civilian life through formal submission of Notice of Intent to Release. Your home unit chain of command (CoC) is responsible for administering and supporting you through your transition experience. The CAF TG mechanisms and services are there to assist both you and your chain of command.

For all voluntary releases, you have to submit a memorandum through your immediate supervisor to your Commanding Officer (CO).

Your CO or designated CoC representative will review your personnel file and meet with you to:

  • Clarify your personal information;
  • Clarify your reasons for requesting a voluntary release;
  • Clarify your expectations from the CoC;
  • Discuss options for retention (such as, what are your needs that the CAF are not providing currently and that, if provided, would change your decision to leave?); and
  • Assess your willingness to meet with specialist(s) to assess other options.

If suitable to your circumstances, your CoC will investigate the possibilities for retention by contacting your career manager or any other stakeholder as appropriate (this may include specialists, such as a Medical Officer, Social Worker or Personnel Selection Officer (PSO)) to clarify possible or suitable courses of action.

Your CO will meet with you to discuss your request for voluntary release and take appropriate action to implement the selected course of action (retention or transition).

If voluntary release is the desired option, the CoC will support and facilitate your transition experience.

If retention in the CAF has been determined possible, your CoC will direct the necessary action to proceed successfully to your new career aspiration.

For compulsory release, your CoC will be informed of the release date and will ensure that the transition process starts as soon as possible, to best facilitate a successful transition.

For medical release, your CoC will ensure that all the supports are in place to support you as you transition.

Your CoC and CO are responsible to ensure that all the components of the transition and release process are available and they will have to confirm/authorize various steps of your transition from military to civilian life (See Annex C for the Commanding Officer Aide Memoire).


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