As a spouse of a #USNavySeabee #veteran, I am happy to hear of the new plans and goals being put forward by Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald at the #NewVA. His long career serving in the military gives me hope that he understands the challenges that current and future #veterans face, and that this will be a strong motivation for him to meet and exceed these goals. One challenge that my husband and many other veterans experienced could benefit from your attention.
With very little warning, my husband was honorably discharged 01/09/2010 after eighteen years of active duty service. He received notice 12/2/2009 that his two year extension/reenlistment was denied, and he was given 30 days notice of his discharge. Within those 30 days we had to vacate our home, remove our children from their school, and find other employment and a place to live, right in the middle of the economic recession. The next two years were very difficult on our family. But, good or bad depending on how you viewed it, we had strength in numbers; many other veterans and their families were living the same experience.
The initial challenge my husband faced was the sudden transition from the life and career he knew and loved for eighteen years, to a world that was only vaguely familiar to him. With his very short notice, he had very little time to benefit from the Transition Assistance Program (#TAP) (now called the #TransitionGPS). All the counseling and training on resume writing, employment search, #healthcare, #VAservices and #VAbenefits, etc. was concentrated into one week for my husband. It typically takes 9-12 months for each #servicemember to go through the TAP program.
Once he became a veteran, and was still in need of these services, he sought them out at the #VA centers. However, they were very limited or non-existent. Other veterans looking for the same assistance were either unaware they were available, or found it difficult to track down these services as well. Many of the #VAemployees were also unaware these services even existed for veterans, or where and/or whom the veterans could contact for these services. And it was not isolated to one VA center. We had moved three times within two years and my husband used the services of four different VA centers, in large or major cities, and the experiences were the same or similar.
Bridging the gap of these services from active duty to veteran needs to be addressed. In addition to increasing the budget and staff for the Transition GPS programs, the program should be made available at each and every VA center in this country. It should be part of the initial indoc process for every veteran in the VA system, be tailored to the location of each VA center and the needs of the veterans they serve, and a continuing service with no specific end date.
Transitioning into the civilian community is unique only to those who have chosen to serve this country. And with everything the majority of today’s veterans live with, Transition GPS services should be a key component in making civilian life more manageable.
Spouse of a US Veteran
Continuing our talk about PTSD... I have had the pleasure of speaking with Veterans who suffer to overcome this demon daily. We can't forget about those who lost the fight though.
December 11, 2008.
On this date we lost a man who battled those demons. He left behind a family. What did you do #VA? You spit on this soldier's family. When they needed you most, you turned your back on them. His family deserves survivor benefits, yet you say no.
The #NewVA needs to care for the Veteran and his family. A widow should not have to fight for benefits for her children. If a Veteran passes away, and it was related to his service, the #NewVA has an obligation to care for his family. You have a chance to become something great, and you can't afford to blow it this time.
Our hearts are with Kevin and his family. Where is your heart #NewVA? Are your hearts with the 22 a day, or must their loss be for naught?