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As a military family with a family member with special needs, you probably have faced transition challenges like PCS moves, deployments and separations. The transition to civilian life will bring more change, but preparing ahead of time can help ease your family’s shift to new support systems, resources and services.
Begin your separation journey by learning about transition assistance programs and resources. You can also schedule appointments with a Military OneSource consultant for transitioning veterans. Start early and contact your resources as often as needed to increase your post-transition success.
Build your plan.
Take these steps as part of your transition from the military to make sure you cover all the bases for your family member with special needs.
- Meet with EFMP professionals. Get assistance from EFMP Family Support on your installation or a Military OneSource special needs consultant. They can help you develop your plan and guide you to resources in your current or future location.
- Review your finances and revisit retirement planning. Meet with a free personal financial counselor, talk to a financial consultant from Military OneSource and check out the resources on Financial Planning and Assistance for Families with Special Needs. You can also find financial info and tools from the Office of Financial Readiness to manage finances today and in the future.
- Take advantage of free legal services. Prepare and update your legal documents before you transition by contacting Legal Services on your installation. Review the legal checklists on EFMP & Me to learn more about estate plans, wills, trusts, guardianship and power of attorney. You can also get tips and information by listening to podcasts on legal and financial planning.
- Ensure continuity of medical care. Set up a meeting with your TRICARE representative to review your options. Remember to schedule your Separation History and Physical Examination between 90 and 180 days before you separate or start terminal leave. Not eligible for TRICARE? Review the Health Insurance Coverage Considerations for Transitioning Families for alternatives.
- Review education needs and transition plans. Connect with the school liaison officer on your current installation to review and guide you with your transition plan. Contact providers and schools in your new location directly if you have questions about their programs and services.
Capture and store necessary information.
Check out these tips to help you gather and keep information to have available when you need it.
- Use EFMP & Me. Create customized checklists to guide you through planning for separation and retirement, transitioning your medical care, moving and so much more.
- Contact the appropriate community agencies in your current or future location that provide services to support the disabled so you will have an understanding of available resources.
- Keep a list of all important contacts you make as you prepare for transition. Take time to update the appropriate Special Care Organizational Record, and have copies of all necessary medical and education records ready to hand-carry to your new location.
- Review the Transitioning From the Military With a Child With Special Needs fact sheet for an overview of support and resources available as you transition from the military.
- Use the Plan My Move tool and the Transitioning/Moving checklist from your SCOR for ideas on transitioning with a special needs family member.
Ease the transition.
You and your family members may feel the stress of military transition to civilian life due to the unknown and to fears you don’t recognize. Some suggestions for easing transition stress when you separate or retire from the military include:
- Review the Stepping Beyond videos on Military OneSource including Transitioning out of the Military with a Child with Special Needs.
- Use tools from Sesame Street for Military Families: Military to Civilian Life to start discussions about transition and lessen stress and anxiety that could cause emotional or behavioral issues.
- Relax with Chill Drills, a new app that helps lower stress levels as you refresh and recharge.
As you prepare for military separation, you may feel anxious about the new and unknown hurdles ahead. Every transition is different so the better prepared you are, the smoother your transition can be.
Use the wealth of available tools and resources to find the answers you need to create and execute your plan for a smooth, successful transition from military to civilian life. And remember, you have access to Military OneSource for 12 months after your military separation.