The following is courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs. It has been edited for newspaper publication
Getting a Solid Start
Veterans in their first year of military to civilian transition will learn about VA programs and benefits through the new Solid Start program.
During that first year, VA will reach out to new veterans and help them navigate the process to accessing their VA benefits or any other resources they may need. Though VA will contact veterans three times during the first year of their transition, the initial contact will come in the first 90 days after separation.
Solid Start gives VA the chance to establish strong relationships with new veterans while promoting awareness of VA benefits, services and other resources.
It begins with VA representatives initiating contact with each new veteran by phone, email and possibly text. Representatives offer personalized services through meaningful conversations designed to understand a veteran’s individual needs rather than providing a laundry list of programs and benefits.
During subsequent calls, representatives follow up with veterans to check on their transition. In those calls, the representatives will answer any questions the veterans may have about VA benefits and services, and connect them with proper resources.
Veterans and their families don’t need to bear the stress of transition alone. The VA is committed to ensuring that transitioning service members have all the tools they need to establish healthy civilian lives.
VA representatives clarify benefits information, like how to apply for home loans or health care, or what VA needs for disability decisions.
With online resources and the call center at 800-827-1000 available to all veterans and other beneficiaries, it is said the veterans appreciate the resources.
Transition and beyond
The VA wants service members and veterans to know that they have a partner to support them during their transition and beyond.
Many Solid Start representatives are veterans or dependents of veterans themselves. They understand first-hand the complexities of transition and are eager and committed to helping veterans bridge the transition to a solid start in their new lives.
The VA emphasizes one final point: transitioning service members receive free mental health resources for up to a year, regardless of their discharge status or service history.
Suicide is a problem that has hit service members and veterans disproportionately hard. Veterans in their first year of separation from service experience suicide rates approximately two times higher than the overall veteran population.
Courtesy, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.