Transition Service Program Assists Newest Veterans

Garry J. Augustine
National Service Director, Garry J. Augustine
DAV’s Transition Service Program has an important role in fulfilling the promises to the men and women who served. For the past 11 years, our Transition Service Officers (TSOs) have been playing a large role in meeting the growing needs of service members separating from the military. Our program currently has 31 TSOs, supplemented by National and Department Service Officers, providing VA benefits briefings, medical record reviews, claims assistance and other free services at military separation centers across our nation covering every branch of the armed services.

Our Transition Service Program is the largest and only one of its kind offered by a veterans service organization. The TSOs work closely with the Departments of Labor, Defense and Veterans Affairs, and various family services offices to assist transitioning military members.

Our TSOs, who themselves have served, are full-time professional DAV employees of the National Organization. We recently added TSOs at U.S. Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., and at Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Meanwhile, another TSO was recently assigned full-time to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Veterans making the transition to civilian life must overcome many obstacles, and we are providing the programs that address their overall health and well-being. Beyond helping hundreds of thousands of veterans each year access available government benefits, we link veterans to job training programs and provide opportunities for veterans to connect with services they need.

Recent War veterans now have ample opportunities to obtain education benefits, employment skills, needed licenses and certification and training assistance necessary to smooth the transition. Our TSOs are providing transitioning service members vital information about their VA benefits, as well as our professional claims services.

One of the most popular and important aspects of this program is a complete review of a service member’s medical records to help determine what injuries and illnesses may qualify for service connection and resulting benefits.

The value of the Transition Service Program is incalculable. Disability claims may be prepared and processed even before discharge and decisions can be made when supporting evidence is fresh. These veterans will be able to get their earned benefits early in life, not decades later when their injuries and illnesses worsen.

DAV is dedicated to advocating on behalf of the men and women who live with illnesses and injuries related to their military service. Some injuries are visible, and some, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and many residuals of traumatic brain injuries, are not. We are here to help them all, regardless of the severity or degree of their injuries. Our Transition Service Program means these veterans leaving active duty are not alone in their transition.