J. Marc Burgess, National Adjutant
Support for transitioning military members
As we have heard many veterans tell it, leaving the military was equally—if not more—daunting than joining in the first place. Nothing could be more true in today’s climate.
For many, the loss of structure and security provided by the military represents an unknown, especially if they lack a support network, are the primary provider for their family or face a less-than-promising job market—as is the case for many over the past several months.
Most of us have been operating far outside the norm for at least a year now, since the start of large-scale closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has turned so much of what we all count on upside down, and we truly feel for those who must set foot into this new world with what could feel like an unscalable mountain to climb.
This period of transition from military to civilian is, while often scary, representative of a new future and a widening of the aperture for growth and opportunity.
Many have immersed themselves in higher learning, choosing to utilize their education benefits to pad their exit and better prepare themselves for the next chapter of life. But even this has been muddled by the virus and is a very different experience for student veterans—one that is far more isolated and perhaps not as well suited to their learning needs.
The departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense have done a great deal to improve their transition programs to aid those service members leaving the military, including the implementation of the VA’s Solid Start program. Solid Start takes a proactive approach to reaching out to veterans at roughly 90, 180 and 365 days following separation to help them better understand and connect with benefits. Additionally, the VA has established a Women Veterans Health Transition Training program, which offers more in-depth information about gender-specific services like maternity and reproductive care. Together, these programs have reached over 70,000 veterans.
DAV, of course, also continues efforts to aid those leaving the military with the help of transition and national service officers, even though our offices largely remained closed to the public throughout much of 2020. Our dedicated teams have continued to diligently serve veterans remotely and through our toll-free number, 888-604-0234, providing safe, no-contact assistance Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
We encourage you to share these DAV and VA resources with those individuals you know who are planning to exit the military. By working together, we can help veterans access the supports they need to make a successful transition to civilian life, even through challenging circumstances.
If you want to find out more about the National Adjutant, you can find his biography here.