While military service is an honorable act of duty and loyalty to one’s country, it can also take a tremendous toll on a soldier’s family life, finances and health. And for many soldiers, it is just one phase of their lives. A large number of military personnel retire with a pension after 20 years of service while they are still young enough to start a new career, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Servicemen and women have a wide range of benefits and resources at their disposal, however, finding out who to turn to in order to attain these resources can be a challenge. Here are five people all active duty personnel and veterans need to know.
The Facilitator: Making the move from structured military life to unstructured civilian life can be a tremendous adjustment for servicemen and women and their families. But a military transition counselor is there to help every step of the way. Whether you need relocation assistance or financial information, a transition counselor can point you in the right direction. The Transition Assistance Program, which is part of the Department of Defense, has a number of resources on its website TurboTap.org.
The Education Liaison: Tuition assistance programs, such as the G.I. Bill, is one of the most popular programs offered for military service. However, figuring out your eligibility for this and other educational programs is also crucial. An Education Officer’s (or ESO’s) duties include teaching and acting as career consultants and training advisers. Active duty and reserve service members can contact their local education service office for help.
The Advocate: The scandal at Walter Reed, which exposed the maltreatment of returning servicepeople disturbed the nation. It opened up a broader conversation about the challenges active servicepeople and veterans face in obtaining the proper care. The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is an independent nonprofit organization that works to ensure that active duty personnel and veterans receive the federal benefits they have earned.
The Coordinator: Moving around the country and around the world is common for military personnel, and getting your loved ones settled when making these moves is crucial. The personal property entitlements counselor is there to assist and advise with relocation. The name of the government office that will handle location varies based on the military branch. Military.com offers extensive information and steps for relocation.
The Financial Protector: Debt collection assistance officers are available to help service people get their medical benefits through TRICARE. TRICARE is a regionally managed healthcare program for active duty, activated guard and reserves, retired members of the uniformed services, and their families and survivors. The debt collection assistance officer program was launched in 2000 as a result of those in the military struggling with reconciling claims. “[Service people] should not have to worry about negotiations with multiple agencies to settle outstanding claims, stressful notices from bill collectors and, sometimes, adverse ratings in their credit reports,” said Bernard Rostker, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.