If you or a loved one has recently begun the transition to civilian life after serving in the military, you're probably aware that this can be a rocky road -- and you're not alone. As much as 61-percent of veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001 experience some sort of struggle with adjusting to life as a civilian. Fortunately, programs are available for those seeking assistance with navigating this particular path. Following are just four of the many resources available that exist to help military veterans build a strong and happy civilian life.
Veteran Hiring Preferences
Veterans who have received an honorable or general discharge may qualify for hiring preference for federal employment. Examples of federal agencies where veterans have an edge over the average applicant are the United States Postal Service and the United States Forest Service. Some state agencies may offer veteran preference as well. Your local state employment office is a great resource for more information on how to leverage your veteran status when looking for a job.
Chapter 31 VA Benefits
Not only do veterans receive hiring preference for federal and some state jobs, they can access a federal program designed to assist them in finding and keeping gainful employment. The Chapter 31 program exists under the umbrella of the United States Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services and helps those with disabilities related to their military service get their lives on track.
Veterans who participate in this program often receive the GI Bill to further their education and become more competitive in today's job market. They may also get counseling to help them work through personal issues as well as job placement assistance. Those who are undecided about their future career path can take assessment tests to help pinpoint their individual strengths and weaknesses for the purpose discerning what type of jobs they may be best suited for.
In order to qualify for participation in Chapter 31 VA benefits, veterans must have received an honorable or general discharge. The program is open to those with a disability determination of 10-percent and a serious employment handicap or a disability rating of 20-percent with a standard employment handicap.
Those interested in learning more about whether this program may benefit them should contact their VA representative to explore their options.
VA Home Loans
Private lenders provide the funding for VA home loans, and the VA administration provides lenders with a guarantee for portions of the loans, making it possible for potential homeowners to receive lower interest rates and other favorable terms. Loans are also available for veterans who already own homes who want to upgrade or repair their existing structures. Many VA home loans have provisions for little or no down payments or closing costs, making it possible for veterans to buy a home without having to save a significant sum of money first.
Eligibility for VA home loans depends on factors such as the individual's length of service and duty status. Loan recipients must show that they have enough steady income to be able to make the loan payments.
VA Health Benefits
Eligible veterans can qualify for health care from the Veterans Health Administration -- and most veterans qualify for free health care. Care includes primary as well as specialty care, mental health services, prenatal and pregnancy care, extended care, and more. Eligibility is available for those who have completed at least 24 continuous months of service and who were released with an honorable or a general discharge -- as with most other services designed for veterans, those with dishonorable discharges are most likely not eligible.
Your local Veterans Administration representative can help navigate available services so that you or your loved one can find what works best.