The Marine For Life Cycle (M4LC) supports your continuum of learning and experience based opportunities during your Marine Corps career. As you navigate the M4LC, you can engage in self-exploration, self-awareness, make life decisions, and develop holistic action plans while gaining knowledge and performing essential tasks to bridge the gap between your time in uniform and your goals as a Veteran Marine.

Select the categories below to explore the Things You Need to Know and Things You Need to Do throughout each Action Point of your career.

Individual Transition Plan (ITP)

The key to a successful transition is planning, which requires a carefully thought out Individual Transition Plan (ITP). The ITP provides a framework to achieve realistic career goals based upon an assessment of your personal and family needs as well as your unique skills, knowledge, experience, interests and abilities. You can create and maintain your ITP with assistance from your Transition Center by using the following templates. The ITP coincides with the Transition Readiness Seminar (TRS) outcome-based curriculum and provides a means to discover and explore your skills and interests which may lead to potential post-transition career paths.

The ITP helps you identify critical activities associated with your transition. Your Transition Counselor will assist you through the process of organizing your transition into manageable tasks. The ITP also helps you establish a timeline for completing all required activities prior to separation – it is a living document and can be modified at any time. The ITP is the road map for attaining your employment, education, technical training, and entrepreneurial objectives and can help you make a successful transition to civilian life.

You will be required to provide a completed ITP applicable to your chosen education, employment, or career technical post-separation goals, along with additional Career Readiness Standards applicable to your chosen career path, prior to attending Capstone with your Commander or designee. 

Select from the following ITP Blocks to get started:

Block 1: Personal/Family Requirements (Mandatory)
Block 2: Employment
Block 3: Education
Block 4: Technical Training
Block 5: Entrepreneurship
Block 6: Transition Timeline

Pre-Separation Counseling Brief

THANK YOU for your Service to the nation. As a result of your dedication and commitment, you have earned various benefits and services. This will be explained to you during the Pre-separation/Transition Counseling for Service members retiring, being discharged or released, who have served 180 continuous days or more on active duty in the Armed Forces in accordance with Title 10, U.S. Code, Chapter 58, Section 1142. This script is provided for informational use only and does not meet the requirements for the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act. Please contact your local transition readiness program office for more information and comprehensive career services and advising assistance.

Title 10, Pre-Separation Counseling Brief

The Capstone Process

Following the Transition Readiness Seminar (TRS), the next step is meeting regularly with the Transition Readiness staff to complete your Career Readiness Standards (CRS) in preparation for the final stage of the transition process -  the Capstone event. Capstone occurs in two stages: Capstone Review and Commander's Verification.

Capstone Review (recommended no earlier than 120 days from EAS), is where you and the Transition Readiness staff verify that you have met CRS and Veteran's Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act Compliance, and are ready for the final meeting with the Commander (or designee). Upon completion of the appointment, the Transition Readiness staff will send the Commander (or designee) a token email notification that you are ready for your final Commander's Verification appointment. You will have access to your printable DD Form 2648 eForm only after the Commander (or designee) has electronically signed the form upon completion of your Commander's Verification appointment. 

The following CRS/VOW requirements will be reviewed at the Capstone Review appointment:

  • You must provide the Commander (or designee) who will be performing your final Commander's Verification Capstone meeting 90 days from EAS (Name, Email, Phone):
  • Completed the Transition Readiness Seminar (TRS)          
    • Department of Labor (DOL) Employment Workshop
    • Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits Briefings I and II
    • Transition Overview/Resilient Transitions
    • Reserve Opportunities and Obligations Brief (ROOB)
    • Military Occupational Code Crosswalk
    • Connecting with the Marine For Life Network
    • Financial Planning for Transition
    • Individual Transition Plan Review
  • Registered on eBenefits  
  • Prepared a criterion-based Financial Plan for military to civilian transition (12 month post-separation budget worksheet).
  • Completed a criterion-based Individual Transition Plan (ITP) Blocks 1-6
    • Block 1 – Personal and Family Needs (Mandatory) and one or more of:
    • Block 2 – Employment
    • Block 3 – Education
    • Block 4 – Career Technical Training
    • Block 5 – Entrepreneurship
    • Block 6 – Transition Timeline
  • Completed a Continuum of Military Service Opportunity counseling (Active Component Only). OR attendance at the Reserve Opportunities and Obligations Brief during TRS.
  • Evaluated transferability of military skills to civilian workforce (Complete DoD Standardized Gap Analysis).
  • Documented requirements and eligibility for licensure, certification, and apprenticeship (using Gap Analysis worksheet).
  • Completed an assessment tool to identify personal interests and learnings regarding career selection (Completed Kuder Journey Assessment).
  • Completed a job application package (resume, personal/references and, if required application).
    • Civilian or Federal Resume
    • 3 Personal/3 Professional References
    • Submitted 2 Job Applications
    • Or proof of employment or job acceptance letter
  • Received a DOL Gold Card and understands post-9/11 Veterans have priority of service at DOL American Job Centers (back of DOL workshop book).

Depending on the additional training tracks you chose to pursue, you will also have to provide the following additional information:

  • Accessing Higher Education Track
    • Completed Accessing Higher Education 2-day Track
    • Completed an application to an accredited institution
    • Completed a session with a counselor from an academic institution
  • Career Technical Training Track
    • Completed Career Technical Training 2-day Track
    • Completed an application to an accredited technical training institution
    • Completed a session with a counselor from a technical training institution
  • Entrepreneurship Track. Did or will you complete the 8-week online course?
    • Completed
    • Will Complete
    • Opt Out

Capstone Stage 2:
Commander's Verification (required no later than 90 days from EAS) as scheduled by the UTC, is the culminating activity in the transition process, where a Commander (or designee) verifies that you have met CRS and VOW using the DD Form 2648 eForm, and the employment, education, or technical training goals you intend to pursue post transition, along with a viable plan for transition to civilian life. Additionally, if you require or desire follow-on assistance, the Commander (or designee) will facilitate a "warm handover" to appropriate helping partners such as the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Labor.

Commander's Verification Appointment

  • The UTC will set up an appointment for you to meet with your Commander (or designee) for your final Capstone appointment no later than 90 days from EAS.
  • The Commander (or designee) will use the token to access your dashboard on DoDTAP.mil showing the VOW/CRS you have completed to assess your readiness to transition. You will also discuss and facilitate any warm handover requirements.
  • The Commander (or designee) will electronically sign your DD Form 2648 eForm.
  • The DD Form 2648 eForm will automatically lock and convert to a pdf.
  • You will receive an email that your form was signed.
  • You will access the form on your DoDTAP.mil dashboard and
    • print a copy for your UTC to coordinate the entry of training event code "TZ – Transition Readiness Seminar – Capstone" into your MCTFS profile
    • upload a copy into your outbound interview module in MOL, and
    • provide a copy to IPAC for uploading into your OMPF during check out
  • Check out the "Veteran" Action Point Checklist

Employment Preparation

Are you planning to enter a new career after your military service? It's important to identify opportunities and resources that will help you make a successful transition. To develop a successful IDP, consider the following elements in your planning process that will help you assess your personal and professional needs and explore interests that may lead to potential career paths.

Employment Preparation Checklist

  • Develop Your Individual Development Plan (IDP) – It is important to develop your own plan in order to have a successful and balanced personal and professional lifestyle. Think about what you want to accomplish, and how you plan to get there. Use Block 2: Employment of the Individual Transition Plan as a guide.
  • Meet with a Personal and Professional Development (P&PD) Advisor– P&PD Advisors are committed to providing a full range of education, career, and transition services that educate, encourage and empower you and your family in achieving personal and professional success.
  • Complete or Update Kuder Journey Personal AssessmentJourney is a career planning system that can provide you with effective career exploration and planning tools, both while serving and in transition. Kuder Journey's assessments support your career planning process and can assist you in making informed decisions about your future.
  • Or Complete O*Net Interest Profiler – The O*Net Interest Profiler can help you find out what your interests are and how they relate to the world of work. Discovering what you enjoy helps you decide what kinds of careers you might want to explore. The O*Net Interest Profiler is less time consuming and less comprehensive than Kuder Journey, and it doesn't store your results.
  • Pull Your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) - The VMET is an overview of your military career.
  • Develop Your LinkedIn Profile – Visit https://veterans.linkedin.com to access a 1 year free job seeker LinkedIn account, Lynda.com subscription, and a free LinkedIn for Veterans course.
  • Join the Marine For Life Network – The Marine For Life Network uses LinkedIn groups for online networking opportunities. The Marine For Life LinkedIn networking groups consist of one national group, four regional groups, and several community-specific groups. Click here to begin cultivating your LinkedIn Network.
  • Explore Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL)COOL will help you find civilian certifications and licenses that are related to your military occupation. Obtaining these certifications will make you more marketable when you begin your civilian job search.
  • Explore United States Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) USMAP is a military training program supported by the Department of Labor that provides the opportunity to improve job skills and complete civilian apprenticeship requirements while on active duty. Completing an apprenticeship will make you more marketable when you begin your civilian job search.
  • MyNextMove provides you with information on civilian careers and training related to your military experience.
  • Start Saving - Plan to cover at least six months of living expenses as you transition from your military career to your first post-military job. Start saving for that now. Consult a Personal Financial Manager (PFM) to learn more.  
  • Cross-reference the Separation/Retirement/Deactivation checklist.

Things You Need to Know

Federal Resources

  • Marine For Life Network - The Marine For Life (M4L) Network seeks to provide a resource of connectivity as well as linkages both to the Marine Corps and to the employment, education, career/technical, and entrepreneurial opportunities that await Veteran Marines and their families. Select the Employment Link for more information.
  • Feds Hire Vets provides resources and information for Veterans, transitioning service members, and their families that can assist in finding a Federal career.
  • USAjobs is a free web-based job board enabling federal job seekers access to thousands of job opportunities across hundreds of federal agencies and organizations.
  • CareerOneStop provides employment information and inspiration, and tools to help job seekers, students, businesses and career professionals. 
  • Veterans.gov is designed to be the virtual "first stop" in the employment search process for veterans, transitioning Service members, and their spouses. The site brings together job banks, state employment offices, American Job Centers, and opportunities in top trending industries.
  • The National Resource Directory connects Service members, veterans, their families and caregivers to programs and services that support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration.

Non-Federal Resources

  • CivilianJobs.com - Job fairs offer employers a unique BestFit™ Profile pre-matching process that ensures a company's representatives will meet the attendees whose backgrounds offer the best fit for their positions.
  • Corporate Gray - Job fairs for the Military Community that give you the opportunity to meet face-to-face with military friendly employers.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Events - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America's long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how our free enterprise system improves society and the economy.
  • Helmets to Hardhats is a national, nonprofit program that connects National Guard, Reserve, retired and transitioning active-duty military service members with skilled training and quality career opportunities in the construction industry.
  • Hire a Hero is a job board and employment resource website that connects Veterans and spouses to employers through job postings, and social networking tools such as LinkedIn and mobile devices.
  • G.I. Jobs  is a website that provides resources for veterans on writing a resume, getting an interview, accepting a job offer, navigating the corporate environment and progressing in your career.
  • Resume Engine can help you translate your military service record into a strong resume.

Accessing Higher Education

Do you plan to attend an institution of higher learning? You'll want to attend the Accessing Higher Education "Track". This 2-day seminar will guide you through the process of determining your career path, selecting a degree program, comparing colleges and funding, and completing a college application package. Upon completion you will have created an individual plan for success.

Higher Education Checklist

  • Develop Your Individual Development Plan (IDP) – It is important to develop your own plan in order to have a successful and balanced personal and professional lifestyle. Think about what you want to accomplish, and how you plan to get there. Use Block 3: Education of the Individual Transition Plan as a guide.
  • Meet With an Education Services Officer (ESO) ESOs are available to assist and advise you on education and testing programs, the Joint Services Transcript,American Council on Education (ACE) college credit recommendations, Tuition Assistance programs (Financial Aid, GI Bill, Scholarships, and Grants), and preparing for the Leadership Scholar Program.
  • Attend the Accessing Higher Education 2-day Track to learn the process of determining your career path, selecting a degree program, comparing colleges and funding, and completing a college application.
  • Explore Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) and College Placement Skills Training (CPST)Contact your ESO to decide if it would be beneficial for you to review your math and writing skills in order to improve job skills, pass exams, advance in your career or continue your education.
  • Complete Higher Education Preparation – HEP US001 - This JKO course is designed for the Active Duty Service member seeking to attend an institute of higher education using tuition assistance. Topics such as choosing a career goal, determining an educational path to completing that goal, factors to consider when choosing an institute of higher education, and tuition assistance and other forms of funding, are covered in this course. By the end of the course you will have created a personal education folder which can be beneficial when meeting with an education counselor.
  • Pull Your Joint Services Transcript (JST) – The JST is a military service transcript showing American Council on Education (ACE) credit recommendations for military training and college courses. Contact your ESO for assistance.
  • Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) - The VMET (DD Form 2586) is an overview of your military career. To obtain a copy of your VMET, check out How to Pull Your VMET.
  • College Navigator is an interactive website that allows you to explore and compare features of different institutions, including programs and majors, admissions considerations, campus crime statistics, and more.
  • MyNextMove provides you with information on civilian careers and training related to your military experience.
  • Visit Your Local Base Library Library resources and services are available to Marines and families on board all USMC installations and on-line 24/7/365. The online databases provide academic research, professional and recreational material including databases covering academic, research, health, criminal justice, web-based foreign language lessons, over 200 digital magazines, over 500 online self-improvement and lifelong learning classes, and thousands of streaming films for informational and recreational use.
  • Start Saving. Even if you are planning to use your G.I. Bill to cover the cost of your schooling, it's a good idea to start saving now to cover your living expenses, especially between semesters. Consult a Personal Financial Manager (PFM) to learn more.

Things You Need to Know

Federal Resources

  • Marine For Life Network - The Marine For Life (M4L) Network seeks to provide a resource of connectivity as well as linkages both to the Marine Corps and to the employment, education, career/technical, and entrepreneurial opportunities that await Veteran Marines and their families. Select the Education Link for more information.
  • Federal Student Aid - This is the organization through the Department of Education that handles all things FAFSA. Federal Student Aid is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. These programs provide grants, loans and work-study funds to students attending college or career school.
  • The Post 9/11 GI Bill, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - This official VA social media page is dedicated to providing important, timely, and correct information about the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • Troops to Teachers - Troops to Teachers is a U.S. Department of Defense program that helps eligible military personnel begin a new career as teachers in public schools where their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed.
  • VetSuccess on Campus provides outreach for VA education Benefits, health services and general benefits.
  • Leadership Scholar Program (LSP) is a partnership between the United States Marine Corps and four year, not-for-profit colleges and universities throughout the nation. LSP provides information and services that focus on individual educational goals with the intent of helping Marines create a competitive application package and maximize admission success.
  • The Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program is an opportunity for students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines to receive a full scholarship and be gainfully employed upon degree completion. It is a DoD-funded program.
  • National Resource Directory - Connects Service members, veterans, their families and caregivers to programs and services that support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration.

Non-Federal Resources

  • College Scholarships.org - Provides information on scholarships and grants.
  • Fastweb - Provides information on paying for and preparing for school, and lists scholarships for every type of student from the high school freshmen to the returning adult.
  • The College Grants Database - Provides resources on grants.
  • BigFuture is one of The College Board's social media presences. The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. The College Board's programs include the SAT and CLEP tests, among others. Through this page explore colleges and careers, connect with other students, and have fun in the process with quizzes, polls, and advice.
  • Service to School - A 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides free application counseling to military veterans. Their goal is to help military veterans gain admission to the best universities possible and to help them maximize their education benefits. 
  • The Posse Foundation - Identifies, recruits, and trains incredible young leaders, including transitioning Service members and Veterans, and sends them in Posses to top colleges and universities across the country.
  • Warrior Scholar Project - Provides immersive one to two weeklong academic bootcamps hosted at America's top universities during the summer breaks to address veterans' misconceptions about college and build their confidence through an intense academic reorientation.
  • Student Veterans of America - A coalition of student veteran groups on college campuses across the United States and overseas. SVA member chapters are student groups formed on college & university campuses to provide peer-to-peer networks for veterans who are attending those schools.
  • Institute for Veterans and Military Families - An interdisciplinary national institute in higher education that provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families.
  • Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation - Since 1962, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation has been Honoring Marines by Educating Their Children. The Nation's oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships to military children, the Scholarship Foundation pays particular attention to those students whose parent has been killed or wounded in combat or has demonstrated financial need.
  • American College Testing (ACT) leads in developing policy for promoting postsecondary education interests throughout the U.S. and for providing access to a diverse and vibrant higher education system. 
  • Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empowers learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom, including interactive SAT and ACT preparation.

Career & Technical Training

Do you plan to utilize the technical skills you develop during your Marine Corps career, but need some additional training or certification? Or perhaps you are interested in obtaining a technical certificate in some other field. You'll want to attend the Career and Technical Training "Track". This 2-day seminar is facilitated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and is designed for individuals interested in obtaining training in a trade or technical field. This course will guide you as you choose a career path and complete a needs analysis.  In addition, you'll compare technical training institutions, and explore requirements and eligibility for certification, licensure, and apprenticeships. Upon completion you will have created an individual plan for success.

Career & Technical Training Checklist

  • Develop Your Individual Development Plan (IDP) – It is important to develop your own plan in order to have a successful and balanced personal and professional lifestyle. Think about what you want to accomplish, and how you plan to get there. Use Block 4: Technical Training Individual Transition Plan as a guide.
  • Meet With the Education Services Officer (ESO) –  ESOs are available to assist and advise you on education and testing programs, the Joint Services Transcript,American Council on Education (ACE) college credit recommendations, Tuition Assistance programs (Financial Aid, GI Bill, Scholarships, and Grants), and preparing for the Leadership Scholar Program.
  • Attend the Career Technical Training 2-day Track if you are interested in a trade or technical field that may require a certificate or license. You will learn how to choose the right career, determine additional training requirements, choose the right institution.
  • Explore Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL)COOL will help you find civilian certifications and licenses that are related to your military occupation.
  • Explore United States Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) USMAP is a military training program supported by the Department of Labor that provides the opportunity to improve job skills and complete civilian apprenticeship requirements while on active duty.
  • Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) helps Service members and Veterans pursue educational goals and earn degrees or certifications both during and after service.
  • Pull Your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET). The VMET(DD Form 2586) is an overview of your military career.
  • College Navigator is an interactive website that allows you to explore and compare features of different institutions, including programs and majors, admissions considerations, campus crime statistics and more.
  • Joint Services Transcript (JST) – The JST is a military service transcript showing American Council on Education (ACE) credit recommendations for military training and college courses. Contact your ESO for assistance.
  • MyNextMove provides you with information on civilian careers and training related to your military experience.
  • Are you 180 days from transition? Explore Marine Corps SkillBridge. SkillBridge links transitioning Marines who are 180 days from transition to civilian training opportunities. The Marine Corps has 3 active Skill Bridge programs on two installations (Camp Pendleton – Veterans in Piping and Microsoft Software & Systems (MSSA) and Camp Lejeune – Veterans in Piping).
  • Visit Your Local Base Library Library resources and services are available to Marines and families on board all USMC installations and on-line 24/7/365. The online databases provide academic research, professional and recreational material including databases covering academic, research, health, criminal justice, web-based foreign language lessons, over 200 digital magazines, over 500 online self-improvement and lifelong learning classes, and thousands of streaming films for informational and recreational use.
  • Start Saving. Even if you are planning to use your G.I. Bill to cover the cost of your schooling, it's a good idea to start saving now to cover your living expenses, especially between semesters. Consult a Personal Financial Manager (PFM) to learn more.

Things You Need to Know

Federal Resources

  • The Post 9/11 GI Bill, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - This official VA social media page is dedicated to providing important, timely, and correct information about the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
  • Federal Student Aid - This is the organization through the Department of Education that handles all things FAFSA. Federal Student Aid is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. These programs provide grants, loans and work-study funds to students attending college or career school.
  • The US Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration: Registered Apprenticeship offers resources to assist Service members and Veterans obtain high-skill, good-paying jobs in Registered Apprenticeships.
  • Explore Career One Stop for information on career options, training and and lists of jobs in your local area.
  • The National Resource Directory connects Service members, veterans, their families and caregivers to programs and services that support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration.

Entrepreneurship

Are you a person who dreams of being your own boss? If so, the Entrepreneurship "Track" is a must do for you. Also referred to as "Boots 2 Business", this 2-day seminar, facilitated by the Small Business Administration (SBA), is intended for Marines interested in pursuing self-employment in the private or non-profit sector. In this course you will learn about some of the unique challenges faced by entrepreneurs, the benefits and realities of entrepreneurship, and the steps toward business ownership. Upon completion of this course you are eligible to attend the SBA "Foundations of Entrepreneurship" course. This intensive eight week instructor led, online course will teach you how to prepare your business plan and provide you with tips and techniques to make your new business a success.

Entrepreneurship Checklist

  • Develop Your Individual Development Plan (IDP) – It is important to develop your own plan in order to have a successful and balanced personal and professional lifestyle. Think about what you want to accomplish, and how you plan to get there.  Use Block 5: Entrepreneurship of the Individual Transition Plan as a guide.
  • Attend the Entrepreneurship Track also known as Boots to Business (B2B). B2B is an SBA-developed 2-day workshop delivered through your local Transition Readiness Program.
  • Develop Your LinkedIn Profile – Visit https://veterans.linkedin.com to access a 1 year free job seeker LinkedIn account, Lynda.com subscription, and a free LinkedIn for Veterans course.
  • Join the Marine For Life Network – The Marine For Life Network uses LinkedIn groups for online networking opportunities. The Marine For Life LinkedIn networking groups consist of one national group, four regional groups, and several community-specific groups. Click here to begin cultivating your LinkedIn Network.
  • Visit Your Local Base Library Library resources and services are available to Marines and families on board all USMC installations and on-line 24/7/365. The online databases provide academic research, professional and recreational material including databases covering academic, research, health, criminal justice, web-based foreign language lessons, over 200 digital magazines, over 500 online self-improvement and lifelong learning classes, and thousands of streaming films for informational and recreational use.
  • Start Saving. Starting a business from the ground up, or even buying a franchise, takes money. Start saving for your initial investment, and to cover your living costs while you are building your business. Consult a Personal Financial Manager (PFM) to learn more.

Things You Need to Know

Federal Resources

  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam. It is an independent agency of the federal government that aids, counsels, assists and protects the interests of small businesses in order to preserve free competitive enterprise and maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.
  • Veterans.gov is designed to be the virtual "first stop" in the employment search process for veterans, transitioning Service members, and their spouses. The site brings together job banks, state employment offices, American Job Centers, and opportunities in top trending industries.
  • Grants.gov assists you in finding and applying for federal grants.

Non- Federal Resources