VA leaders and others from federal agencies, the Department of Defense, Veterans service organizations and nonprofit organizations met recently to discuss military to civilian transition and how to better serve those preparing to return to civilian life.
“We’ve assembled leading thinkers to focus our efforts to ensure service members are equipped with the information they need before they begin the transition process,” said interim deputy secretary Scott Blackburn, stressing that VA simply cannot do this alone.
The meeting focused on establishing a common understanding of transitioning to civilian life and the collaborative actions the community could take to improve the experience for service members and their families.
“Seeing organizations, government, advocates and many others all sit down to proactively find the path ahead in supporting Veterans across the country was inspiring. Dozens of people with a wide range of views all showed that they have one thing in common: it’s time to do the right thing for those who served,” Student Veterans of America’s vice president of government affairs Will Hubbard said.
Many of the participants agreed that while transition is a common human experience, the military to civilian transition is especially complex with Veterans changing jobs, moving and establishing new relationships all at the same time. Citing the various career paths and service experiences, many also acknowledged the unique nature of each Veteran’s journey.
Transition can encompasses various stages and often each service member has different requirements considering education, training and experience, family needs and finances. A key recommendation was made to better inform transitioning service members about the Veteran Journey Map as a useful tool to improve transition planning by showing them what could potentially be in store for them down the road and what benefit and services are available for each.
“DoD is expanding their thinking about transition and will move the transition discussion earlier in the career for all service members. Our current focus is on employment and we will now include [holistic] heath care,” said Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Anthony Kurta.
About the author: Micheal Migliara is a Veteran with over 20 years in the Army and participated in multiple combat deployments to Iraq. He currently serves Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors in his role with the National Veterans Outreach office, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. He graduated from Jacksonville State University, in Jacksonville, Alabama with a degree in forensic investigations and later earned a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University.