Transitioning from military to civilian life can be a stressful time for service members and their families – and VA is committed to supporting them throughout this process. In December 2019, VA implemented the Solid Start program to provide consistent, caring contact between service members and VA to guide them through understanding and using the benefits and resources available to them.
Getting a solid start
Representatives at the VA Solid Start program call newly separated Veterans three times during their first year of separation. A specially trained VA Representative will reach out to these Veterans around 90-, 180- and 365-days post-separation. The phone conversations are tailored to the Veteran’s needs, directing them toward appropriate resources, services and benefits. After each call, Veterans receive a follow up email with the information and resources specific to their needs.
Why Veterans should take the call
We know the first year post-separation can be overwhelming with a great deal of information to review and understand. There are new routines and new responsibilities, but Veterans don’t have to carry that weight alone. VA Solid Start is designed to help them find the information and answers to their benefits- or transition-related questions.
Some common transition topics VA Solid Start can help with include:
- Medical and dental care, such as helping Veterans make appointments and connect with associated resources.
- Time-sensitive insurance programs, such as advising Veterans on the option to convert Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) to Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI).
- Mental health resources, prioritizing contact to Veterans who had a mental health care appointment within the last year of active duty service.
- Information on low and no down payment housing loans and refinancing options.
- Education assistance through the GI Bill that will pay for up to 36 months of education benefits.
- Counseling assistance, such as connecting Veterans to personalized career planning and guidance resources to help set goals for success.
VA will not ask for financial information and will only discuss topics that the Veteran is comfortable with. VA is committed to helping Veterans understand and access the benefits they have earned to help them get a solid start on civilian life.
Recently separated Veterans are encouraged to keep their contact information up to date in their VA.gov account.
For questions about VA Solid Start visit https://benefits.va.gov/transition/solid-start.asp or call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-827-0611, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (ET).
Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado, MPH, is a marketing specialist for VBA’s Office of Strategic Engagement.