I Just Came Off Active Duty, What Should I Do?
First, Thank You for Your Service! Here’s some items to consider as you manage your transition back to civilian life. Where the other portions of this website focused on the nuts and bolts of benefits, consider the following to be more philosophical advice to ensure you and your family receive the benefits you earned.
Educate Yourself to Be Your Own Advocate
You will find that there are many good organizations with good people who want to help you because you are a veteran. With that said, however, you must have the initiative to seek out these organizations and the programs they administer. In nearly every case, whether the benefit is provided by the federal government, the state, or private organizations, you must apply for it to receive it. Many veterans say… “Well, if I was eligible the Government would have signed me up.” That is not true! In order to receive benefits, you must apply, and in order to apply you must know they exist, which means you need to become an educated consumer. Read the materials organizations send to you in the mail. Tour educational sites like this one, especially our section on Transitions. Learn about the benefits you earned and apply for them appropriately.
Enroll in VA Healthcare
Enroll immediately for VA Healthcare. Even if you’re the picture of health and have private health insurance, now is your opportunity to enroll for VA Healthcare. You may not be eligible to enroll at a later date, so take advantage of this opportunity.
Honest Self Assessment
After you come home and the dust settles, set aside some quiet time to have an open and honest discussion with yourself about your physical and mental condition. We all like to think we are indestructible… it’s part of what made us good service members. But now is the time to think about the toll you have paid for your service. As we age, both physical and mental injuries can increase in severity. The ankle problem that was a nuisance when you were 25 may mean you can barely walk when your 55. After you enroll immediately for VA Healthcare, you will have an opportunity to have an exam with your primary care provider. That is the time to describe all your bumps and bruises so there will be documentation for these conditions in the future. And, if you find that any of these bumps and bruises are a problem for you today, now is the best time to apply for Disability Compensation, which you should do through one of the service officers listed below.
- American Legion Veteran Service Officer (Office at White River Junction) - (802) 296-5166
- Disabled American Veterans Veteran Service Officer (Office at White River Junction) - (802) 296-5167
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Veteran Service Officer (Office at White River Junction) - (802) 296-5168
- Vietnam Veterans of America (Various Locations Statewide) - (603) 283-3164
- State of Vermont Veteran Service Officer Program (Travels Statewide) - (888) 666-9844
Don’t Be Too Patient
Finally… Don’t be too patient. Don’t wait for a crisis before turning to help from the organizations listed in this directory. Whether your challenges are financial, physical, or mental, don’t wait to pursue positive improvements for you and your family.