Once someone decides to leave the military, there’s a whole host of decisions that need to be made. Decisions that include choosing a new career, how to manage finances, a change of lifestyle and more are part of the challenges facing soon-to-be veterans. All of these decisions may be overwhelming but veterans are not alone. The VA is accessible and a good resource. Utilizing the VA is to the veterans’ benefit. Not only does the service give help, it also gives veterans a sense of community. Regular, problem free access to the VA can be hard to achieve but not always. It can depend on your area. You should know that certain vets are seen as higher priorities in the VA system, including those with service-related disabilities. There are representatives to help you and guide you in any decision making. There are also several hundred non profit organizations related to reintroduction, public service workers among others there to help veterans in need.
Veterans are entitled to benefits and different programs to ensure a safe exit and reintroduction into civilian life. Blake Bourne, the executive director of North Carolina's Charlotte Bridge Home, which is a non profit that guides that the process of reintroducing veterans to civilian life easier.
One of the many issues is healthcare. Healthcare is a large, overreaching issue, in both civilian life and military life. It is complex but not impossible to navigate. Bourne explains it like this: "Healthcare is the best microcosm for the challenges of navigating life outside of military life," says Bourne, who is also a retired Army officer. "It's not something we ever had to contend with, within service." If veterans have a family, someone will speak with them to make immediate preparations and then guide them to make longer term decisions for both veterans and any dependents they may have. Veterans who retire after 20 years of service or who are medically retired because of injuries have health insurance available to themselves and their families at a low cost.
Education is also something that veterans may be a new topic once they exit military life. It’s a choice that also feeds into the issue of managing finances. Even though these can be challenging issues to navigate, you don’t have to do it alone. Most veteran service organizations, like the Wounded Warrior Project, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and similar nonprofit groups have experience in navigating what can be a confusing system.