Posted on Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Veterans in their first year of military to civilian transition will learn about VA programs and benefits through the new Solid Start program.
During that first year, VA will reach out to new Veterans and help them navigate the process to accessing their VA benefits or any other resources they may need. Though VA will contact Veterans three times during the first year of their transition, the initial contact will come in the first 90 days after separation.
This proactive outreach will allow VA to contact more than 200,000 transitioning service members each year.
Getting a Solid Start
Solid Start gives VA the chance to establish strong relationships with new Veterans while promoting awareness of VA benefits, services and other resources.
It begins with VA representatives initiating contact with each new Veteran by phone, email and possibly text. The representatives will offer personalized services through meaningful conversations designed to understand a Veteran’s individual needs rather than providing a laundry list of programs and benefits.
During subsequent calls, representatives will follow up with Veterans to check on their transition. In those calls, the representatives will answer any questions the Veterans may have about VA benefits and services, and connect them with valuable resources. This is the Veteran’s solid start to a new, post-military life.
VA is a partner
Veterans and their families don’t need to bear the stress of transition alone. We are committed to ensuring that transitioning service members have all the tools they need to establish healthy civilian lives.
That’s why I was honored to visit one of our eight Solid Start teams to see firsthand when our representatives made their first calls to Veterans. Its impact was immediately clear.
I watched as our representatives clarified benefits information, like how to apply for home loans or health care, or what VA needs for disability decisions.
Then, after each call, I watched our representatives send personalized emails to each Veteran they talked to. The emails recapped the material they covered over the phone as well as linking them to helpful resources related to the topics they discussed.
While online resources and the call center at 800-827-1000 are still available to all Veterans and other beneficiaries, we found that the Veterans we spoke with appreciated our effort to personally reach out.
Transition and beyond
At VA, we want service members and Veterans to know that they have a partner to support them during their transition and beyond. That’s why many of our Solid Start representatives are Veterans or dependents of Veterans themselves. They understand first-hand the complexities of transition and are eager and committed to helping Veterans bridge the transition gap to a solid start in their new lives.
Lastly, we want to emphasize one final point: transitioning service members receive free mental health resources for up to a year, regardless of their discharge status or service history.
Suicide is a problem of national scope that has hit service members and Veterans disproportionately hard. Veterans in their first year of separation from service experience suicide rates approximately two times higher than the overall Veteran suicide rate.
Solid Start represents an important and significant shift in how VA serves Veterans. If VA is calling, please take the call.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1; send a text to 838255; or chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat. Our representatives provide free, confidential support and crisis intervention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.