VA launches ‘Solid Start’ to proactively contact Veterans during first-year of transition


shadow

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.

Author

Margarita Devlin

Margarita Devlin is the principal deputy under secretary for VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration.

Comments

  1. Edward Jones    

    Far better to identify living vets annually beginning ar age 70 to get their input about their own needs. The Last Mile thing is pathetic. They might as well be saluting a tree, There is nobody who knew that lonely vet available to even care or shed a tear. It is an emotional reaction to homelessness and aloneness that is entirely subjective without tangible benefit. The story would be different if a relative or actual friend were involved. Funerals are always for the living friends and relatives. Go figure. Some stranger(s) must be benefitting from all the showtime. Otherwise the VA would have originated something long ago. If the deceased vet could be aware, he/she would probably ask, “Where were you when I actually needed you and could have said “Thank you?”

  2. Nipa Kamdar    

    Which department/office runs this program within the VA?

  3. Bonnie Beaulieu    

    I am happy to see the community becoming more proactive regarding military to veteran transition. Too many homeless veterans roam the streets when we have so many resources for them. I am a veteran therapist and happy to help any way I can.

    Bonnie

  4. Charlene Brown    

    About time. I discharged in 1989 and had no idea about benefits after service. It took me meeting a veteran in 1993 to let me know about VA medical services after discharged. I was traumatized during service in 1987 and received no counseling during active duty. A lot has changed. Keep improving services to active duty and veterans. Really appreciate the new suicide prevention efforts

  5. Francisco Duarte    

    I am studying psychology to become a life coach, and I was wondering what jobs are available for me once I graduate. I think helping other veterans transition into civilian life is one of them. What is the requirement for this position?

  6. Wilson D Kelly    

    Well past due and totally agree Vet should be asvised BEFORE hes discharged. Next the VA can fix all the problems and delays in getting these deserved benefits.

  7. Derek Maier    

    Concerning VA Home Loans, why is that department using a flawed computer simulation/ algorithm to generate erroneous home values? VA appointed/approved appraisers are skewing and altering appraisals to ensure the value of the appraisals are within the range of the computer simulation/ algorithm.

    The Roanoke VA office has a systemic problem of ignoring verifiable, tangible data disputing the computer simulation AND appraisal.

    I can provide the county tax information & comparable properties verifiably disputing the flawed appraisal and reports from the VA office.

    How is this legal and/or ethical?

  8. Vicky Garza    

    James E Hensley on post now the service members do have contact with VA benefits advisors. We now have classes for all transition service members and the class is mandatory. This program is amazing because I do see it happen a lot that most service members need a little extra guidance. I love how VA is now starting all of these great programs for Veterans. They have so many benefits out there however, service members arnt sure how to use them.

  9. Sergio Cahuantzi    

    I’m glad to hear your doing something to inform and educate Veterans about their benefits.
    Unfortunate for me, when I separated never did my unit tell me anything about the benefits that were available to me. Never did anyone try to contact me by phone, mail, or in any other form. When I came back from combat no one counseled us on how to reintegrate back into society. No programs were offered, no info, no help. And this was in 2003. It has taken me many years to slowly learn to control myself. I still have a short-temper and my kids remind me and I have to tell myself to relax, and apologize to those around. I still have trouble sleeping. With the help of my wife and family I have been able to better myself somewhat. I didn’t find out about having benefits until just 2 years ago. I was informed, thanks to other veterans who asked if I was a Veteran too, due to my personality. I tried to use the benefits to try to re-educate myself, but only to find out the benefits expired, and did not qualify for coverage. Do to some law passed in 2009. Again information that Wasn’t shared through a letter, phone, email, or any major source.
    The VA has to improve how information old and new is shared to veterans. Many others like me will loose an opportunity of coverage, like I did, because the units they serve only care if they re-enlist and not in educating them about what happens after. Because the VA has all this critical info that can help many, but is way behind in using all the resources available to get that info to the Veterans.

  10. JAMES E, HENSLEY    

    Another Wilkie brain fart! Contacts should occur 90 days PRIOR TO SEPARATION/DISCHARGE, OR RETIREMENT!

    This SOLID START will have a rough go with the stated 90 days after format.

    Fewer persons discharged these days return to the home of record. Contacts prior to discharge are a necessity which will give a person something to look forward to on the day of discharge. That is better that sitting around for 90 days awaiting the first contact – if ever it occurs. I went through similar in 1977, and never heard from the VA at all. It was called PROJECT TRANSITION back then.
    JEH

Comments are closed.