12 Situations Where You Can Get Free Legal Help

Service members reviewing documents

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

As a service member or eligible family member, you have access to free legal benefits. Through your legal assistance office, you can receive free legal services such as a lease agreement review, estate planning or advice if you get sued.

Get Free Legal Help

Specific legal services may vary by installation, but your legal assistance office can generally help with the following:

  1. Powers of attorney. A power of attorney allows one person to legally act on your behalf on legal and money matters. For example, a power of attorney document can appoint someone to release your household goods shipment if you’re leaving before your furniture will ship or bank on your behalf while you are deployed.
  2. Lease and rental contract reviews. A lawyer can review your lease or rental contract before you sign it to be sure the terms are acceptable, and that the agreement includes any military rental protection clauses for your state.
  3. Living will. With a living will, you can declare what medical treatment or life-sustaining measures you want or don’t want if you become seriously ill or injured.
  4. Estate planning. This is an important part of retirement planning and can include:
    • Drafting of a will, a legally binding document describing how you want your property and belongings distributed after your death
    • Designating your beneficiaries
    • Planning ahead should you become mentally or physically disabled
  5. Family care plan. This serves as a blueprint, for military purposes, for how you want your family cared for while you’re deployed. A plan is required for single parents, dual-military couples with children, or if you care for a disabled or elderly family member. Legal assistance offices can review and advise on this matter.
  6. Notary services. Notaries can administer oaths, witness signatures, take acknowledgments, sworn statements and affidavits, and more.
  7. Consumer issues. If you’re having credit problems, believe you’re the victim of a scam or have a dispute over a consumer issue, legal assistance attorneys may help you communicate and negotiate with collection agencies, lawyers or other parties.
  8. Tax assistance. Many legal assistance offices operate tax centers or provide income tax return preparation to help with filing federal, state or local taxes.
  9. Family law. Get legal advice for a range of issues, including adoption, child support, marriage, divorce, separation, child custody, alimony, property division, name changes, paternity or legal benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.
  10. Service member rights and responsibilities. Legal assistance offices can help you understand the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides specific protections for service members.
  11. Civil lawsuits. In limited cases, you can get help with the preparation of legal correspondence, documents and pleadings.
  12. Immigration and naturalization. You can get support and referrals for immigration, citizenship and naturalization matters, including alien registration, reentry permits, passports, naturalization of a surviving spouse and citizenship of military children born abroad.

Pay for Legal Advice on These Matters

The legal assistance office is restricted from providing help and advice in some circumstances, including the following:

  • Providing legal advice to third parties or opposing parties on the same issue
  • Claims against the government
  • Serious criminal matters
  • Citations for driving under the influence
  • Legal matters concerning your privately owned business
  • In-court representation

While Military OneSource does not offer legal assistance, you can call or visit your legal assistance office to find out more about the services offered at your installation.

The information contained on this website is designed to educate and inform service members and their families on their personal legal affairs. Nothing contained in the website is a substitute for the competent legal advice of a licensed attorney. Service members and their families seeking legal advice should consult the staff of the nearest installation Legal Assistance Office.

How to Support Your Service Member Before Deployment

A sailor hugs a loved one after returning from deployment.

Your service member has just told you that they’ve received “orders to mobilize” – that means they’ll soon be deployed. This is the moment they have trained for since they entered basic training: preparing to serve a greater mission wherever and whenever they are needed.

Sure, your heart may be beating fast, but don’t let that overshadow the pride you have in your service member right now. Practically speaking, here’s what those deployment orders mean for both your service member and you as their family member, along with suggestions on how you can best support them before they ship off to their temporary duty station.

Get Connected to Military Life: Official eNewsletter

Keep in touch with the cadence of military life, understand its rich traditions and learn ways to support your service member with the Friends & Family Connection eNewsletter.

A predeployment checklist for you and your service member

The U.S. military sends tens of thousands of service members – plus their equipment and transportation – around the world every year on deployment, all running as part of a longstanding, well-oiled machine revolving around planning and preparation.

Exactly how service members will prepare for their upcoming deployment depends on their specific orders to mobilize. Some deployments include an 18-month “cruise” on military ships performing routine patrols. Other service members may land at a “Forward Operating Base,” or FOB, in combat zones. Then, there are deployments at duty stations with restaurants and shops you’d recognize back home.

No matter what the deployment is, all service members undergo specialized training, briefings, medical evaluations and counseling during what’s known as their predeployment phase. Service members also work together with their immediate and extended families to address several financial and legal matters, to make sure everything back home is secure during deployment.

Below, we’ve listed some of the tasks all service members should complete during the predeployment phase, and how you might be able to offer help if they ask.

File legal paperwork add

Break contracts and pay future bills add

Create a Family Care Plan, enroll in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and update Department of Defense ID cards add

Plan for “combat pay” add

Figure out a communication strategy add

There’s more that happens during the predeployment phase, for both service members and their families. You can learn more about the tasks, briefings and other preparations your service member undergoes before deploying at Plan My Deployment, a free online tool available to help military families organize and understand all phases of deployment.

And did you know that active-duty, National Guard and reserve service members have access to services from financial planning to peer or professional counseling? It’s free and available 24/7 through Military OneSource.

Strengthen Your Coping Skills With Building Healthy Relationships Specialty Consultations

Couple stand in airplane hanger

Current as of Nov. 6, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has upended lives everywhere. Staying home and away from usual support systems can challenge even the strongest relationships.

If your family is feeling the strain, Military OneSource can help. Our Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations offer coaching sessions, practical tools, resources and problem-solving techniques.

Individual tracks are available by phone and video to improve connections with your children, your partner and others during these uncertain times.

Cope With Stress as a Couple

The COVID-19 pandemic can strain even the strongest relationship. Review our guide for ways to cope.

Specialty consultations for all of your important relationships

The Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations offer a variety of tracks that are customized to different relationships. When you call Military OneSource to arrange a specialty consultation, your consultant will help you identify the track — or tracks — that are right for you.

  • Building Healthy Relationships with Your Significant Other. This track includes personalized coaching sessions, educational resources, guidance and tools to support a stronger partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  • Healthy Parent-Child Connections. You will work with a consultant to identify goals for your relationship with your child. Your consultant will also give you education and resources to enhance your bond. If appropriate, your child may attend sessions with you.
  • Communication Refreshers. Good communication is at the heart of healthy relationships. This track focuses on improving the way you communicate with others and is helpful for couples, as well. It offers educational webinars, inventories and services.
  • Staying Connected While Away. If you’re away from your partner or family during the pandemic, this track might be right for you. A consultant can help you identify goals and resources to help you cope emotionally and stay connected with your loved ones.
  • Blended Family. This track focuses on co-parenting when you and your partner have children from previous relationships. It may be especially helpful for those who are learning new family roles at the same time their children are feeling isolated due to school closures and other precautions.
  • MilSpouse Toolkit. If you are a new military spouse away from your family and support system, this track may help. It can help you adjust to the military lifestyle, develop coping skills and identify resources in your new community.
  • Reconnecting After Deployment. A major shift can occur for the entire family when a service member returns from deployment. Coming home amid the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic may cause additional strain. This track can help you identify goals for this reintegration period. It also includes materials that can ease stress and boost your family’s resilience.

Healthy Relationships resources

Find information and tools to keep your relationship strong.

Call 800-342-9647 or start a live chat to schedule an appointment with a Building Healthy Relationships consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Our understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Stay up to date by checking the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Special Needs Consultations

Girl kissing service member mom

The special needs consultants available through Military OneSource Exceptional Family Member Program Resources, Options and Consultations, or EFMP ROC, can answer your questions and concerns related to your child or adult family member with special needs. Consultants are professionals with master’s degrees and extensive experience in the disability field. They’re also trained in military programs. When you have your call, you can expect your consultant to:

  • Listen to what your family needs
  • Complete a needs assessment
  • Determine and evaluate what resources your family already has or has tried
  • Guide your family toward the help you need
  • Conduct three-way calls between you and TRICARE health care and arrange warm hand-offs to installation EFMP Family Support staff or other experts to assist you

Contact Military OneSource 24/7.

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

Prefer to live chat? Start now.

EFMP ROC

  • EFMP has enhanced support for families with special needs through ROC. EFMP ROC provides ready, one-source access to specialized resources, options and customized consultations for military families with special needs. Call or live chat at any time to schedule a specialty consultation by phone or video.
  • EFMP connects you with consultants who have subject matter expertise in education, the military health care system, TRICARE coverage, state and federal programs and more.

EFMP ROC provides extra support through three-way calls with health care and other experts.

How can special needs consultants help?

Your consultant can connect you with information, resources, services and more, including:

Special needs consultants are ready to support you. Consultations are available via phone or video session. Make an appointment 24/7 with live chat or by calling 800-342-9647.

Your Career Path: Finding the Right Job

Service member welding

What kind of job are you looking for when you leave the military? Many people look for jobs in certain locations, or jobs that offer a certain salary or stability, but there is so much more to finding a great job as a veteran! Finding a career that matches your skills and interests is key to job satisfaction.

What should my career be?

A satisfying job gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes good use of your skills. If you’re not sure about your career path after the military, CareerOneStop is a great way to get started.

CareerOneStop is a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s a rich resource with lots of tools for job searching, training, and information about careers and industries. At CareerOneStop, you can:

  • Take self-assessments at no charge — including an interest assessment, a skills assessment and more
  • Learn about careers — view career profiles and videos, compare occupations and research industries
  • Find training – including information on basic adult education, apprenticeships, certifications, scholarships and much more
  • Plan your career — set career goals, learn about salary expectations, occupation licenses and professional development

CareerOneStop also offers resources specifically for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses. Visit their Veteran and Military Transition Center website for more information.

If you are not quite sure whether transitioning out of the military is the right choice for you, and your family if you have one, the following questions might help you make a decision. Take time to discuss all the options and consider how the changes might affect you and your family.

  1. What appeals to me most about the change is:
  2. What I would gain most from the change is:
  3. What is frightening about the change is:
  4. What keeps me from making the change is:
  5. The worst thing that could happen if I make the change is:
  6. If the worst thing happened, then I could do:
  7. If I were really serious about making a career change,
    1. My first step would be:
    2. My second step would be:
    3. My third step would be

It’s never too early to start to think about what’s right for you and your family, especially if you think you’ll need more experience, credentialing or licensing for your new civilian career.

More about transition planning

During your transition planning, you’ll explore your employment and career goals. As part of the Transition Assistance Program, DOL provides a one day core curriculum on the fundamentals of career transition. DOL also offers two additional two-day tracks as part of TAP that do a deep dive into employment and vocational training. For more information about the military Transition Assistance Program, contact your installation’s TAP office, or visit the DOD TAP website.

Learn more on Military OneSource about the Transition Assistance Program, and Transition Assistance Advisors.

When you get a head start on the career you want, you can start planning with confidence. Ask, explore, question, plan and go for it!

Staying Connected With Your Child’s Teachers During a Deployment

Service members working on laptops

No matter where you are around the country or the world, you can still support your child’s education. With communication technology and strong interest, you can keep up with their grades and stay in touch with teachers. Let your child know that school and education are important — whether you’re home or deployed. Set the stage for success:

  • Meet with teachers prior to deployment. Set up a meeting before you prepare for deployment so you can work out a plan to stay connected.
  • Use the school’s online resources. Department of Defense schools use GradeSpeed to keep families up to date on grades and attendance. Civilian schools may have similar services.
  • Ask your partner for help. Your partner can be your “boots on the ground” for all things educational. Reinforce your partner’s role to your children — set your partner up for success.

Kids tend to perform better in school when their parents are involved in their education.

Plan ahead to stay involved

Make a plan to stay active and involved in your child’s education at every stage.

  • Discover technologies. Find out what communication technologies you can access once you deploy.
  • Talk about how to stay in touch. Ask your child’s teachers before you go about the best way to stay in touch. It might be through email, a school website or even texting.
  • Share when you want to be informed. Tell teachers what specific issues you want to know about, such as a low grade or an unexcused absence. It’s a good idea to let your child know, too.

Keep in touch

There are lots of creative ways to stay in touch with your child and support his or her education. Try these ideas:

  • Stay in regular contact with your child’s teachers. Check in as frequently as your mission allows via email or telephone.
  • Send a class gift. Pick up something special from the area of the world where you’re deployed. You’ll be the kids’ favorite parent. If it relates to what the class is studying, you’ll be the teacher’s favorite parent, too.
  • Ask your partner or child’s guardian for assistance. Your child’s designated guardian can oversee homework, talk with teachers and help your child get to school on time. Discuss successes and challenges with your care partner regularly. If your partner or child’s guardian has difficulty speaking English, ask the school to provide a translator.

Find time during your deployment to work on strengthening your connection with your child’s school. Your commitment to staying involved can set them up for success in the classroom and beyond. Contact Military OneSource to speak with an education consultant. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Deployment Basics By Service Branch

Service members walk towards their next location.

At some point in your loved one’s military service, you’ll probably hear the words, “I’m deploying.” What does that really mean, and how can you support your service member?

The word deployment can mean different things, depending on your service member’s job, and their unit and service branch, but it generally means a scheduled time away from the usual duty station, and usually outside of the United States. It may mean seven months on a Navy ship, 12 months at a forward operating base or three months in a town with restaurants and shops you’d recognize back home. Sometimes, your service member may serve in dangerous situations, but they have intense training and are well prepared for the challenges they may face in their specific mission.

The deployment cycle is the period of time from the notification of a deployment, through predeployment training, through the deployment and immediately after deployment. Every deployment cycle is different, but here are some general things to know:

Army deployment

Soldiers can deploy in large or small groups, or even individually. Many soldiers will do predeployment training at large training centers such as the National Training Center, the Joint Readiness Training Center, or at specific training centers located at bases across the country. An average deployment cycle will include months of training at their home base and at these specialized courses.

Soldiers with specific skills may go individually or in smaller units. They will have different types of training requirements based on the job, their prior preparation and the location of the deployment.

Learn more about Army deployments »

Marine Corps deployment

Many Marine Corps deployments happen on Navy ships, or they may fly to their deployment location. The majority of Marine Corps deployments include approximately one year of training followed by six to seven months of actual deployment time. However, a significant number of Marine Corps deployments may be scheduled for one year or more.

The Marine Corps prepares to support a wide variety of missions, often on short notice. Deployment types include training exercises, force readiness, supporting ongoing missions and humanitarian support.

Learn more about Marine Corps deployments »

Navy deployment

Many Navy deployments are on ships or submarines. Whether your service member is permanently assigned to the ship or sub, or joining the vessel as part of a separate unit such as an aircraft squadron, they’ll spend many months before the deployment participating in a wide variety of training both on and off the ship or sub. Ship or sub-based deployments typically last six or seven months, though occasionally, they will go longer. The time at sea may be broken up by port calls, where the ship pulls into a town and the sailors are permitted to go ashore and enjoy some time off.

Sailors who deploy without a ship or sub may go to a variety of locations to perform a wide range of jobs. Their predeployment training may be part of their regular job, so there may not be much disruption to their regular schedule, or they may need to learn entirely new skills for the deployment. These deployments may be with Navy units, joint units or they may be assigned to a unit of a different branch of the military. The latter is usually called an individual augmentee job. Sailors deployed without a ship or a sub may go for as little as 30 days or for more than a year.

Learn more about Navy deployments »

Air Force deployment

Airmen participate in many different types of deployments. Most Air Force deployments involve flying to another location, often an overseas Air Force base, a joint base or the base of another service. Airmen may live on those bases or stay in hotels.

Some Air Force units have a faster deployment cycle, with shorter deployments and shorter times between deployments. While they still may follow the six to 12-month average of the other branches, they may also do a series of two to three-month deployments in quick succession. Differences in deployment tempo are usually based upon job and unit.

Learn more about Air Force deployments »

How You Can Support Your Service Member

Deployment can bring about a wide range of emotions for both the service member and the family at home. They may be excited to do the job for which they’ve trained, sad to be apart from their family and perhaps nervous about how the deployment will unfold. It’s natural to feel all these things, sometimes all at the same time.

Realistic expectations are an important part of making it through the deployment cycle. Three key things to remember throughout the process:

  1. Your service member has been training to use their skills during a deployment. They are well prepared to do this job and may be very focused on the mission they’re doing.
  2. Things can, and will, change frequently. Trainings and deployments can be moved up, delayed or cancelled altogether. Departure and return dates will shift. Communication may be limited. The more understanding you are, the more your service member will feel supported.
  3. Your service member will not be able to answer all your questions. Your loved one may not know the answer to your question, or they may not be able to tell you the things they do know.

You can help your service member by asking what they want and how you can help. For example, they may want you to come to homecoming for one deployment but not for another, based upon a wide variety of factors including location, likelihood of date changes and post-deployment requirements. They may need help with things like paying bills or storing their car.

It’s also smart to talk through a couple of “what-if” scenarios and to get some basic information. Be sure you know the specific name of their unit and at least one phone number to call if there is an emergency back home.

Whether you are a parent, sibling or friend, you probably have a lot of questions about your loved one’s deployment. Feel more prepared with Military OneSource’s Plan My Deployment and the predeployment checklist.

VISIT PLAN MY DEPLOYMENT

Check out the rest of the Friends & Extended Family content on Military OneSource to keep connected with your service member’s military life.

Common Military Acronyms

A male Air Force captain listens to a radio during an outdoor training exercise.

Sometimes it feels like the military has a language all its own made entirely of acronyms and abbreviations. And while your service member is probably fluent in this strange tongue, you may need a little help to keep up.

Military OneSource Connects Service Members to Their Best MilLife

Active duty, National Guard and reserve service members have access to expert support, non-medical counseling, specialty consultations and more. It’s free and available 24/7.

Military acronyms: The basics for new recruits

AAFES: Army and Air Force Exchange Service. The retailer that operates post exchanges on Army and Air Force installations.

AIT or “A School”: Advanced individual training. The hands-on career training and field instruction each service member receives before being qualified to do a specific military job. This specialized schooling varies by military branch.

ASVAB: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. A multiple-choice test a prospective recruit takes before enlisting to see if they are qualified to join and which military jobs they qualify for.

DOD: Department of Defense. The department of the U.S. government responsible for military operations.

MEPS: Military Entrance Processing Station. Where service members take the ASVAB, get a physical, choose their military job and swear in.

MOS: Military occupational specialty. This is a service member’s specific job in the military, from artillery and aviation to engineering and intelligence.

OPSEC: Operational Security. The process of identifying and protecting information about military operations.

PT: Physical training. Key to military readiness, service members will be expected to meet fitness standards throughout their enlistment.

PX: Post Exchange. A store at a military installation that sells merchandise and services to military personnel and authorized civilians.

Military acronyms: Chain of command

CO: Commanding officer. The officer in charge of a military unit, such as captain for a company (Army) and squadron commander for a squadron of aircraft (Air Force).

JSC: Joint Chiefs of Staff. A group of senior military leaders who advise the president, the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council and the National Security Council on military matters.

NCO: Noncommissioned officer. A military officer who has not received a commission, such as sergeant (Army) and warrant officer (Navy).

XO: Executive officer. The second-in-command to a commanding officer.

Military acronyms: MilLife paperwork

BRS: Blended Retirement System. The military’s new retirement system, which extends benefits to about 85% of service members, even if they don’t serve a full 20 years. This system uses the Thrift Savings Plan described below.

DEERS: Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. A database of military families and others entitled to receive TRICARE and other benefits.

LES: Leave and Earning Statement. This bimonthly statement reports what you’ve earned, how much has been withheld for taxes, your leave balance and what allotments you have. Service members in the Air Force or Army may choose to receive their pay monthly, in which case the LES would be reported only once a month instead of twice.

POC: Point of contact. The person you contact about a specific program or assignment.

TRICARE: Military health care program. TRICARE provides health benefits to service members, retirees and their families.

TSP: Thrift Savings Plan. Similar to a 401(k), the TSP is a government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan. The TSP is a fundamental part of the military’s new Blended Retirement System, described above.

Military acronyms: Finance and housing

BAH: Basic Allowance for Housing. Compensation service members receive to cover the cost of housing when government quarters are not provided.

COLA: Cost of Living Allowance. Compensation service members receive to offset the cost of living in more expensive areas of the U.S.

OHA: Overseas Housing Allowance. Compensation service members receive for housing outside the U.S. when government quarters aren’t available.

POC: Privately Owned Conveyance. A service member’s personal vehicle that is not owned by the government.

Military acronyms: Locations

CONUS/OCONUS: The continental U.S., or CONUS, is the 48 connected states and District of Columbia. OCONUS is outside the continental U.S.

DITY: Do-It-Yourself, or a personally procured move, which can save a service member a lot of money moving. This is often associated with moving during a permanent change of station.

FOB: Forward operating base. A temporary, secured operational position that supports strategic goals and tactical objectives.

PCS: Permanent change of station. The relocation of an active-duty service member to a different duty location. Service members may PCS every few years.

PPM: Personally Procured Move. A move a service member plans and conducts on their own, instead of having the military do it. PPM expenses may be reimbursed by the military.

TDY: Temporary duty station. A temporary assignment at a location other than a service member’s permanent duty station.

Stay Informed

Get the latest news and updates directly to your inbox. Subscribe to an ePublication today.email

Understanding the Americans With Disabilities Act

Soldier in wheel chair holding a tablet

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities for more than 30 years, making sure they have the same opportunities as everyone else to be part of everyday American life. The ADA ensures that people with disabilities can enjoy job opportunities, buy goods and services and take part in state and local government programs and services.

People protected under the ADA are living with a physical or mental impairment that greatly limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, speaking, lifting, hearing, seeing, reading, sleeping, eating, concentrating or working. The ADA covers injured service members with a military disability, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, loss of a limb, vision or hearing loss, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Employment

The ADA makes it illegal to refuse to hire qualified people based on disability. Employers are also required to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities, such as:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • A parking space close to an entrance
  • Allowing service animals in the workplace
  • Providing special equipment

Access to goods and services

Per the ADA, businesses that offer goods and services to the public must make adjustments to how they do business so that people with disabilities can be their customers. Businesses covered by the ADA include:

  • Grocery stores
  • Bars and restaurants
  • Medical offices
  • Gyms
  • Sports arenas and concert halls

All buildings built since the ADA went into effect must provide easy-to-use access to people who have movement or sensory disabilities. Changes businesses might make include:

  • Reading a menu to someone with impaired vision
  • Providing a large-print copy of a rental contract
  • Installing a ramp
  • Providing accessible parking spaces
  • Lowering a paper-towel dispenser

Access to public services

State and local governments must also follow ADA rules and make changes to activities and services. Public services include:

  • Public trade schools
  • Community colleges
  • Libraries
  • Public hospitals
  • Parks
  • Public transportation

All programs must be available to people with disabilities but not all buildings have to be accessible. Governments can choose whether to:

  • Correct access problems at an inaccessible building
  • Move a program to an accessible building
  • Find another way to allow disabled persons to participate.

Some resources for service members with disabilities include:

Learn more by reading the booklet The ADA: Know Your Rights — Returning Service Members with Disabilities. This booklet provides information about employment accommodations, business access modifications, civic life and more. It also includes links to other helpful publications and agencies.

The Road Ahead at Home and Work

Disabled veteran in rehab

As a wounded warrior, you deserve the easiest possible transition from military to civilian life. A severe injury does change the way you live, but it does not have to change the course of your career or the quality of your home life. Here are some strategies to help you navigate the road ahead as a wounded warrior.

Making your home more livable

Making your house accessible and livable within the constraints of your injury can help ease your transition home. Accessibility simply means allowing you to do what you want and need to do, as independently as possible. Both technical and financial assistance are available to make your home accessible. Consider these resources to make you more comfortable at home during your transition.

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs provides loans and grants to modify the home of disabled veterans, or to help them purchase existing, accessible homes.
  • Disabled American Veterans is an organization dedicated to wounded warriors with resources to help you feel at ease in your home.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development helps homeowners rehabilitate properties for accessibility.
  • Many nongovernment nonprofits also provide building assistance and help with the financing of new homes for injured service members.

Learn more about home modification resources for wounded warriors.

Reentering the workforce

Every injured service member can expect to have a different path back into work. The nature of your injuries, where you live, and your specific skill-set, interests and experiences will guide your decision. Your first step is to determine what kind of job you want. Here are some things to consider.

  • Your interests: Focusing on what you’re interested in will help narrow your search and make you happier in your new role.
  • Your job in the military: As a service member, you have unique experiences, skills, training and traits that will be assets to a new employer. Be open to ways in which those skills might translate to a civilian role.
  • Your challenges: Identify the things which may limit your options, such as your injury, your education or your skills, and make a plan to update your talents to match or create new opportunities.
  • Your job before the military: Skills and experiences that you acquired before becoming a service member may translate to your career now. Try reconnecting with old colleagues and decide if you’re still interested in that line of work.
  • Your location: Whether you’re relocating or staying, consider the strengths — and limitations — of your area. Consider jobs that your region is known for, or focus on companies based there.

There are plenty of resources to help you find your first job after the military. Consider using these services to search and prepare for that first role.

  • The military’s Transition Assistance Program provides transition support for severely injured service members in each branch. For more information, contact your installation TAP office.
  • The Veterans’ Employment and Career Transition Advisor provides valuable information and access to contact information for one-on-one employment assistance and online resources to assist transitioning service members and veterans with their reintegration into the civilian workforce.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs provides vocational training and certifications, and help with your job search.
  • CareerOneStop centers are located around the country and can help you with career exploration, training, job searches and placement.
  • The Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, provides assistive technology and accommodations to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured service members. Effective Oct. 1, 2020, CAP will only provide assistive technology to DOD employees and active-duty service members. However, CAP will gladly conduct assessments, provide information, referrals and assist non-DOD agencies in determining the appropriate AT and AT devices to purchase by their agency. For more information, visit the CAP website.

Support going forward

Because of the sacrifices you’ve made, you’re entitled to many benefits during your transition from active-duty military to civilian life. The road ahead is lined with support from Military OneSource and its many resources, from medical services and education, to caregivers and counseling. If you have questions, reach out. Consultants are available 24/7/365 to help you find the resources you need to thrive. Call 800-342-9647, use OCONUS dialing options, or schedule a live chat.