Military Separation: What to Expect When Your Service Member Transitions to Civilian Life

Your service member’s military career is winding down and civilian life awaits. As with all endings and new beginnings, this next stage may bring a mix of sadness, optimism, unease and excitement.

Learning what to expect during military separation and planning for what comes next can help ease anxiety, clarify goals and set your service member up for success.

How your service member may be feeling

Separating from the military isn’t merely trading one career for another; it’s a significant change that may affect nearly every aspect of life. It’s helpful to be aware of some of the ways your service member may be feeling before, during and after the transition. Your service member may be:

  • Excited about new possibilities outside of the military.
  • Overwhelmed by the number of choices ahead, including where to live and how to earn an income.
  • Mourning the loss of community, a reliable support system and the deep sense of purpose and camaraderie that comes with being in the military.

You can support your service member just by being available to listen as they sort through their feelings and work their way through the transition.

Supporting your service member during the transition to civilian life

Your service member may have clear goals for civilian life and a plan to meet each one. Or, your loved one may have little idea what to do next. There’s a lot to think about when separating from the service, so the earlier your service member begins planning, the smoother the transition will be. Some considerations include:

  • Where to live. For the first time since entering the military, your service member has unlimited choices of where to live. Will your service member return home to family? Settle in another part of the country? Rent or buy a home?You might help your service member think through the pros and cons of different areas, including employment opportunities and housing costs. Veterans may qualify for a home loan from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which may influence the decision about whether to rent or buy.
  • Whether to continue their education or enter the workforce. Some separating service members enroll in college full time, while others start their careers, launch a business or enter a training program or apprenticeship. Your service member may qualify for benefits to help with the cost of education, as well as services to help with the decision.
  • Which career field to enter. You can help your service member with this choice by talking about ways their military training, skills and experiences translate to the civilian workforce. You might ask about long-term goals, the education or training required to achieve them and which education and training benefits are available to help with the cost. With goals set, your service member can then research education or training programs and begin the application process.Or, if the plan is going directly into the workforce, the discussion points might include beginning to network, preparing a resume and identifying potential employers.

The Transition Assistance Program, or DODTAP

The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs offer many resources to help transitioning service members clarify their goals and understand which benefits they qualify for. Among these is the Transition Assistance Program, which is mandatory for separating service members who have served 180 continuous days or more on active duty. DODTAP offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to equip service members with the tools and resources to succeed in their civilian lives. It includes:

  • Individualized initial counseling during which your service member will complete a self-assessment and begin developing a transition plan.
  • Pre-separation counseling to learn about benefits, entitlements and resources.
  • A series of briefings focusing on managing the transition, translating military skills to the civilian world, financial planning, benefits and services from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and finding a career.
  • Instruction on finding employment, vocational training, higher education or entrepreneurship.

Service members must complete TAP no later than a year before leaving the military. Retiring service members should begin the process at least two years before retirement.

Transitioning to Civilian Life

View this webinar, which discusses steps to make the shift easier.

Other resources to help with the transition

  • The Transitioning Veterans Specialty Consultation from Military OneSource is tailored to your service member’s unique needs. The series of 45-minute consultations cover goal setting, benefits review, VA assistance, exploring education opportunities, workforce preparation and becoming familiar with online resources.
  • The Military Spouse Transition Program helps military spouses throughout their military journey, including the transition to civilian life.
  • Military OneSource is available to veterans and their families for 365 days post separation from the military. Military OneSource offers non-medical counseling, as well as help with career planning, relocation and housing, personal finances, tax filing and accessing benefits for veterans.
  • The Credential Opportunities On-Line program is offered by each service branch to help service members translate their training into civilian credentials.
  • The Veterans Benefits Administration website lists VA benefits available to veterans.

The military equips service members with skills, abilities and experiences that serve them well in the civilian world. These inner resources, along with the support of loved ones like you and the benefits and services available, will help your service member transition smoothly into this exciting next phase of life.

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.

What Service Members Need to Know About Employment

Man repairs an airplane

Maybe you’re closing the chapter on your military life and opening a new one, or you’re in the process of making long-term plans. This means transitioning from being a service member to a civilian employee in a company, nonprofit or maybe the government. As a service member, you have many resources available to help you with this significant change. Here’s an overview of what you need to know as you seek employment.

Explore your career path

There’s a difference between a job and a career. Both pay the bills, but a career is more likely to give you a sense of meaning and accomplishment.

Finding a career that matches your skills and interests is the key to job satisfaction. Invest some time in a little soul-searching before you begin your search to make sure you’re going down the right path.

Whether you plan to continue in your current field after leaving military service or you wish to pursue a new opportunity, you should ask yourself two questions:

  1. What are my career goals?
  2. What steps do I need to take to position myself for success?

To help you answer those questions, a self-assessment can help you set goals and plan your way forward. Here are a few options:

  • CareerScope® is a career planning and assessment tool through the Department of Veterans Affairs that recommends career choices based on your interests and abilities.
  • My Next Move for Veterans is an assessment tool to enable you to explore careers, including those related to your military occupational specialty.
  • Career OneStop also offers a self-assessment that includes an interest assessment and skills profiler. The service, which is sponsored by the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, also offers tools to help search for jobs, identify training and learn about careers.

Credential and leverage your military experience

Your military experience has given you training that converts to skills in the civilian world. The COOL program helps you translate your training into civilian credentials and speak better to what employers are looking for. Here are links to individual service branch programs:

The United Services Military Apprenticeship Program provides active-duty Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard service members the opportunity to improve their job skills and to complete their civilian apprenticeship requirements while they are serving.

DOD SkillBridge connects transitioning service members to career job training opportunities. Participate in training and development with industry and employers who are seeking the high-quality skills that you bring to the table.

The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program provides transitioning service members with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce.

Build your resume

The goal of a resume is to effectively summarize and highlight your qualifications in a way that will make the employer want to reach out and schedule an interview with you. These tips will help you build a resume that will stand out.

  • Collect your assets. Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training through the Department of Defense. The VMET document helps you prepare resumes and job applications quickly when you separate from service.
  • Include essential components like contact information, job objective, summary of qualifications, employment history, education and training, and special skills.
  • Tailor your resume for the job. Translate everything into civilian terms and include volunteer experience.
  • Write a cover letter. Get the name of the person in charge of hiring, keep it to one page and always follow up.
  • Tap into resume-building tools. Check out Veterans.gov and VA.gov.

Find the right civilian job

Your military experience is valuable to many employers, but it’s up to you to get out there and sell it. Start with these tips:

  • Network. Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. Organize your contacts and connections.
  • Tap into the services of your transition assistance offices. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads and career counseling.
  • Hit job fairs. Look for upcoming events to meet potential employers including:
  • Look for veteran-friendly companies. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for programs such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative. Check out organizations like Soldier for Life, Marine for Life, the Military Officers Association of American, Non-Commissioned Officers Association or Enlisted Association, and United Service Organizations. Also, see the HIRE Vets Medallion Award for a list of organizations committed to veteran hiring, retention and professional development.

Other employment benefits and assistance programs

Review some of the top services and programs offered by the military and the government, focused on jobs for veterans and helping you find your new career. Also, check out these employment benefits and assistance programs available before and after you leave the military:

  • Department of Labor Employment Fundamentals of Career Transition: This one-day workshop provides an introduction to the essential tools and resources needed to evaluate career options, gain information for civilian employment, and understand the fundamentals of the employment process.
  • Department of Labor Employment Workshop: This two-day workshop covers emerging best practices in career employment, including in-depth training to learn interview skills, build effective resumes, and use emerging technology to network and search for employment.
  • Vocational Training Track: Participants complete a career development assessment and are guided through a variety of career considerations, including labor market projections, education, apprenticeships, certifications and licensure requirements.
  • Soldier for Life engages and connects Army, government and non-governmental organizations to support soldiers, veterans and families.
  • Marine for Life connects transitioning Marines and their family members to education resources, employment opportunities, and other veterans services that aid in their career and life goals outside of military service.
  • National Guard Employment Support Program supports National Guard Service members in finding meaningful careers and job opportunities as they face the challenges of military life, whether mobilized or in a steady-state posture.
  • American Corporate Partners: Free mentoring program connects Post-9/11 veterans with corporate professionals for customized mentorships.

Match your military skills to civilian jobs, find transition resources, and start your military-to-civilian job search with the resources and information provided above. Check out all the resources for employment on Military OneSource.

Get Military Discounts on Local Entertainment With American Forces Travel

a music concert

Members of the military community already use American Forces Travel to save money when booking leisure travel. But now you can also use the website to score discounts on great entertainment right in your own community.

Due to COVID-19:

Many events have been canceled or postponed. Please continue to check the Events page to learn the most up-to-date information on events of interest until further notice.

Concerts, theater, sporting events and more – the American Forces Travel Secondary Ticket Marketplace offers military discounts on more than 200,000 bookable events across the country. These resale tickets are provided through reputable and established companies, so you can buy with confidence. You also get these perks:

  • No membership fees
  • No service charges
  • No shipping fees
  • Moneyback guarantee (restrictions apply)
  • Post-purchase support through the American Forces Travel call center, open 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., EST

Plus, morale, welfare and recreation programs around the world receive a commission on everything you book through American Forces Travel. That funding helps pay for services you use, like outdoor recreation, pools, parks and workshops on your installation.

To use the Secondary Ticket Marketplace, click the “Event Tickets” tab on the American Forces Travel website. First-time users will be asked to verify their eligibility with the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Report System database.

Anyone who can use MWR programs and services can also use American Forces Travel. For a full list of eligible patrons, click “Who Is Eligible” on the American Forces Travel webpage.

Military discounts on travel, hotels, rental cars, flights and more

In addition to event tickets, American Forces Travel lets service members and their families book their leisure travel and vacations online, and at a discount:

  • Flights inside and outside the U.S.
  • Hotels all around the world
  • Rental cars
  • Cruises and vacation packages

Military travelers booking through American Forces Travel enjoy lower booking fees, have a best price guarantee, and get deals on prepaid car rental rates. American Forces Travel is a joint service initiative, and provides leisure travel discounts through its service provider, Priceline Group Inc.

Which GI Bill Is Best for You?

A veteran writes down notes on military tuition assistance.

You proudly served your country, but what’s next? Now it’s time to put the GI Bill to use and get the education you’ve earned. The Department of Veterans Affairs has several programs that can cover the cost of education and training – for both active military and veterans – take care of housing fees and, in some cases, allow you to transfer education benefits to your family.

Take a look at the benefits of each program and decide what works best for you.

Post-9/11 GI Bill

If you’ve served at least 90 days of active-duty service after Sept. 10, 2001 and received an honorable discharge, then you can use the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

This education benefit can cover up to 100% of your tuition, and up to $1,000 for your monthly rent – depending on how many months of active duty you’ve served. (At least 36 months of active duty after 9/10/2001 gives you 100% of the benefit.) Here are your benefits at a glance:

Post-9/11 Benefits

Years to Use Benefits

Covers Up to 100% Tuition and Fees

School Supplies Stipend

Monthly Housing Allowance

Yellow Ribbon

Eligibility

Transfer of Entitlement Option

 

Varies*

 

Yes

 

Up to $1000/yr.

 

$1000

 

Yes

 

Yes

*If your service ended before Jan. 1, 2013, you have 15 years to use the benefit. If your service ended on or after Jan. 1, 2013, the benefit won’t expire.

If you’re a veteran at the 100% benefit level, you may also be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon Program to cover fees that may exceed your benefit – a private school, for example. Schools must agree to participate in this program.

Unlike other GI Bill programs, the Post-9/11 GI Bill gives you the option to transfer unused education benefits to your spouse and one or more of your children. You must still be a service member to transfer unused benefits and must have served at least six years. As of Jan. 12, 2020, you will not be eligible to transfer benefits if you have served more than 16 years. Other conditions apply, so contact a Military OneSource education consultant to learn more about this benefit.

Veterans and FRY Scholars who have or will soon exhaust their benefits and are currently enrolled in a STEM degree program or are seeking a teaching certification are eligible to receive the Rogers STEM scholarship. Family members who received transferred entitlement are not eligible for additional educational assistance under the STEM Scholarship.

You can use your Post-9/11 GI Bill for college or an advanced degree, technical training, on-the-job training or a certification, licensing and certification, flight training and more. Visit the VA’s website to learn more on how you, as a veteran, can use this education benefit to reach your career goals.

Montgomery GI Bill

If you’ve served at least two years of active duty and have a high school diploma or GED, you can use the Montgomery GI Bill program. With this education benefit, you could get over $61,000 to pay for educational programs.

Montgomery GI Bill Benefits

Years to Use Benefits

Covers Tuition and Fees

School Supplies Stipend

Monthly Housing Allowance

Yellow Ribbon

Transfer of Entitlement Option

10 years

36 months (8 semesters)

No

No

No

No

The length of your service, the type of training you take and college fund eligibility will decide the amount of money you’ll receive monthly. If you did the $600 Buy-Up Program while you were in active duty, you may receive more monthly benefits.

Benefits can pay for programs such as college or technical courses, flight training and apprenticeship/job training.

Compare your options

Whether you decide to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill program, both programs give you the option to start and stop as needed.

Comparing your estimated benefits by school will help you make the best decision for you (or your family) about which program to choose. Visit Vets.gov to compare estimated benefits by education program.

On-the-job training and apprenticeship

Are you interested in jumpstarting your career by learning a specific trade or skill? Consider using your VA education benefits to participate in on-the-job (OJT) and apprenticeship training programs.

Instead of attending formal classes, you’ll enter a training contract and gain experience working with an employer. During the period of training, you’ll receive a salary from the employer. As you work on your skills, your salary may also rise.

At the end of your apprenticeship, the VA will give you a job certificate or journeyman status and issue monthly GI Bill payments.

How will you use the GI Bill?

Deciding on how best to use the GI Bill takes some attention. Here’s a good chart to help you along. VA.gov can also get you started with applying and can direct you to more help.

Life Insurance for Veterans

A U.S. Army Reserve military police soldier holds hands with her niece.

Life insurance is one of those things we tend to avoid. But as a service member, you’re automatically provided life insurance. It may be one of the smartest moves you’ve made — whether you know it or not.

Why? Life insurance is essential for your family’s financial health. Your family (or whoever you listed as your beneficiary upon entering the military) could receive up to $400,000 if you should die. If you have family or others who depend on your income, life insurance leaves those you leave behind secure.

Leaving the military: Consider converting your current life insurance

Unless you declined Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance since joining the military, you have coverage. It’s offered by the VA. Active-duty members, National Guard and reserve members can obtain up to $400,000 of life insurance. You can buy additional, affordable coverage for your spouse and each dependent child.

When you leave the military, you may want to convert your Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance into a Veterans’ Group Life Insurance policy. To maintain your family’s financial health and peace of mind with affordable coverage, here’s what you need to know:

  • Coverage. You can continue life insurance coverage after leaving the service, at the same or lesser amounts as your Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. Remain in the National Guard or reserves after active duty, and you can keep your Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance.
  • Enrollment period. The VA has extended the enrollment period for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance by 90 days because of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. If you’re applying between June 11, 2020 and June 11, 2021, you now have one year and 210 days from your date of separation to apply for VGLI. If you apply for coverage within 330 days of your date of separation during this period, you won’t have to answer any health questions. Read about eligibility details.
  • Costs. Premiums are based upon your age. Check out Veterans’ Group Life Insurance premium rates. Use the Insurance Needs Calculator to assess your life insurance needs.
  • Applying. You can apply for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance through eBenefits or download and complete this form and mail it to the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance.

Questions? Military OneSource can help you navigate the ins and outs of life insurance while you’re in the military or your options for a year after your service. Call us at 800-342-9647.

VA Benefits for Disabled Veterans and Service Members

Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits and services to meet the needs of veterans and service members. While many VA programs are designed to serve veterans, particularly disabled veterans, VA services are not limited to those who have left the military.

If you are an active-duty disabled service member and need help covering the cost of school, securing a home loan or acquiring life insurance, or require medical care for your disability, the VA can help you and your family.

Medical care

More than 1,400 medical centers and clinics form the core of the VA’s services. In addition, the VA works with TRICARE to provide services for active-duty service members who are disabled:

  • Eligibility. Determine your eligibility for benefits by visiting VA Health Benefits.
  • Medical services. For a complete listing of VA health services, go to VA Health Care.
  • Medical care for active duty service members. Contact TRICARE for service-connected injuries or illnesses. Your service branch primary provider can refer you to the VA for treatment of combat injuries.

Post-traumatic stress disorder care and resources

The VA is expanding access to treatment for PTSD by increasing the number of mental health providers at VA medical centers. To learn more about the programs, support groups and research for helping those with PTSD, visit the Veterans post-traumatic stress disorder page of the VA website.

Disability compensation

The VA’s tax-free disability compensation pays veterans who have service-related disabilities. The amount is based on the severity of the disability, with additional payments available if the veteran has a spouse or other dependents:

Transition and employment services

The VA offers briefings on its benefits and services through the Transition Assistance Program. This outreach effort is intensified for service members leaving active duty due to a medical problem. The VA’s goal is to make sure all transitioning service members fully understand the benefits and services available to them:

  • Returning Service Member Program — If you have returned from Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn, visit VA’s Returning Service Member Program Web page.
  • Disabled Transition Assistance Program — To find out about the services available to you if you have a medical disability, visit Disability.gov.
  • Rehabilitation and employment services — To be eligible, you must have a service-connected disability and require vocational rehabilitation. The program is also available to active-duty service members awaiting discharge because of a disability. For more information, go to the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Web page.

Home and car adaptation

Veterans and service members with specific service-connected disabilities may be eligible for grants to help them adapt homes or cars to meet their disability requirements.

The VA offers housing grants to veterans who receive compensation for certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities:

  • Specially Adapted Housing Grant — used to build a specially adapted home or remodel an existing home for adaptation
  • Special Housing Adaptation Grant — used to adapt an existing home owned by the veteran or adapt a home intended for purchase, or help a veteran buy a home already adapted

Veterans and service members may also be eligible for home improvement and structural alteration grants. To determine what this grant will pay for, visit the Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services page of the VA website.

For veterans and service members with service-connected disabilities, the VA offers a one-time payment of up to $11,000 toward the purchase of an automobile. The VA may also pay for adaptive equipment, repair, replacement or reinstallation of equipment.

Life insurance

The VA’s life insurance program offers Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance to veterans with service-connected disabilities. Supplemental coverage is available at an additional cost. Service members remain covered by VA Servicemembers Group Life Insurance until they leave the military. For more information, visit the Life Insurance page of the VA website.

Other benefits

Many VA benefits and services extend to service members and veterans regardless of disability status, including the following education and home loan guaranty benefits:

  • Education Montgomery GI Bill®, Post-9/11 GI Bill® and the GI Bill® cover the cost of education and certificate programs.
  • Training programs — Many types of training are available through the GI Bill®, including undergraduate or graduate degree programs at colleges or universities.
  • Transfer of benefits to family members — Under certain circumstances, you may be able to transfer your benefits to an eligible spouse or child.
  • Home loan guaranties — The home loan guaranties help service members get competitive rates on home loans with little or no down payment. Find out more by visiting the Home Loans page of the VA website.

Make a Home Accessible With Department of Veterans Affairs Programs

Disabled veteran in home

If you’re disabled, it is important to feel comfortable at home. Depending on your unique needs, modifications such as a wheelchair ramp, wider doorways or even a special doorbell can make a big difference in your accessibility at home. The Department of Veterans Affairs promotes independent living for disabled veterans through several programs. Based on your disability, you may be eligible for a grant to make modifications to your home.

Here are a few possibilities to consider.

The Specially Adapted Housing Program

This program gives grants to veterans or service members with specific service-connected disabilities to build an adapted home or update an existing home to meet their disability-related needs. After your eligibility is determined, a Specially Adapted Housing agent will help you with your application and necessary documents. You may get advice on:

  • House plans
  • Buildable lots
  • Adaptive features
  • Qualified architects and builders

There are two types of grants administered by VA under this program.

Specially Adapted Housing Grants

These grants are available to disabled veterans or service members entitled to receive compensation for permanent and total service-connected disability because of one of the following:

  • Loss or loss of use of both legs that prevents movement without the aid of braces, crutches, canes or a wheelchair
  • Blindness in both eyes (having only light perception), plus loss or loss of use of one leg
  • Loss or loss of use of one leg, together with residuals of organic disease or injury, or the loss or loss of use of one arm; these losses must affect balance or forward motion so much that they prevent movement without the aid of braces, crutches, canes or a wheelchair
  • The loss or loss of use of both arms, preventing use of the arms at or above the elbows
  • Severe burn injuries

Under this entitlement, a grant may be available to veterans and service members to adapt a home to meet their special needs. Specially Adapted Housing Grants:

  • Provide up to 50 percent of the veteran’s cost of an adapted house, land and allowable expenses, but may not exceed the current maximum grant amount of $70,465 (as of February 2015)
  • May be used to help build, buy or adapt an existing home or reduce the debt owed on a home that’s already adapted
  • May be used up to three times, as long as the total grants stay within the current limit 

A temporary grant — called Temporary Residence Adaptations grants, or TRA — may be available to veterans who are or will be temporarily living in a home owned by a family member. The TRA grants are:

  • Limited to a maximum amount of $30,934
  • Counted as one of the three total uses of the Specially Adapted Housing Grant

Special Housing Adaptation Grants

These grants are available to veterans or service members entitled to compensation for permanent and total service-connected disability because of one of the following:

  • Blindness in both eyes, with 5/200 visual acuity or less
  • Anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands
  • Severe burn injuries
  • Severe respiratory ailments

An eligible veteran or service member may receive a VA grant for the actual cost to adapt a house or for the appraised market value of necessary adapted features already in a house when it was purchased, up to the maximum grant amount of $14,093 (as of February 2015). Special Housing Adaptations grants:

  • May be used up to three times, as long as the total grants don’t exceed the current limit
  • Require that the home to be adapted be owned by the veteran or by a member of the veteran’s family, but the veteran must intend to continue living there

Temporary Residence Adaptations grants may also be available in these cases. The TRA grants are:

  • Limited up to a maximum amount of $5,523
  • Counted as one of the three total uses of the Special Housing Adaptation grant

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Independent Living Services

The VA’s Independent Living Services are for veterans who can’t follow their employment goals because of their severe service-connected disabilities. The services:

  • Provide housing-related benefits
  • Include adaptations that are required to improve independence in daily living
  • Can be combined with the Specially Adapted Housing Grant if the veteran is eligible

Visit VA’s Independent Living Services page for more information.

Veterans Health Administration Home Improvements and Structural Alterations grants

This program provides medically necessary improvements and structural alterations to veterans and service members’ primary residence and is:

  • Administered under the Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Service
  • Limited to the improvement and structural alterations necessary to assure continuation of treatment and provide access to the home or to essential restroom facilities
  • Available to veterans with or without the service-connected rating

The lifetime benefit is $6,800 for eligible veterans with a service-connected disability rated at 50 percent or more, or $2,000 lifetime benefit for eligible veterans with non-service-connected disabilities, but who receive health care from VA with non-SC disabilities rated less than 50 percent.

Contact the prosthetics office at your nearest VA Medical Center, or visit VA’s Home Improvements and Structural Alterations page.

Financial assistance and technical advice are also available from many other government and nongovernment organizations. Be sure to research your eligibility for assistance from all sources to maximize your benefits compensation.

Veterans Affairs Benefits for National Guard and Reserve Members

VA benefits for National Guard

Guard and reserve members are entitled to benefits and services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, just like their active-duty counterparts. The VA can help Guard and reserve members cover the cost of school, secure a home loan or acquire life insurance. Whether you’re preparing for life after military or you’ve already made the military-to-civilian transition, you’ll want to learn what VA benefits are available to you.

Here are the VA benefits for which Guard and reserve members are eligible:

  • Education benefits – If you’re currently serving you may be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill® – Selected Reserve. If you were called to active duty for at least 90 days since Sept. 11, 2001, you may be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Reserve Education Assistance Program.
  • Home loan guaranties – Guard and reserve members are eligible for a VA loan guaranty after you have completed six years of service in the Selected Reserve or if you’ve been on active duty for 90 days. For more information, visit the VA’s Home Loan Guaranty website, or call the Loan Eligibility Center at 888-244-6711.
  • Homelessness prevention programs – If you or a veteran you know are struggling to find permanent housing or facing eviction or foreclosure, make the call to 877-4AID-VET (424-3838), or chat online to learn more about the support services the VA offers. Learn about all the programs that can help you overcome or prevent homelessness on the VA website.
  • Life insurance – To qualify, you must be assigned to a unit in which you are required to perform active duty or active duty for training, and will be scheduled to perform at least 12 periods of inactive duty creditable for retirement. You can also get life insurance for your family and convert your life insurance to Veterans’ Group Life Insurance. Learn more about coverage at the VA’s Life Insurance website.
  • Medical care – You may be eligible for Veterans Affairs medical centers, clinics, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, which are the core of the VA’s services. Veterans with service-connected disabilities get the highest priority at a VA medical facility, while other veterans receive care based on availability.
  • Disability compensation – If you’re a veteran with injuries or illnesses resulting from active-duty military service, you may be eligible for disability compensation. The amount is based on the severity of the disability.
  • Rehabilitation – If you have a service-connected disability, the VA’s Rehabilitation and Employment Program can help you transition out of the military. The program offers counseling services, education and training, job assistance and financial aid. Visit the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment resources for more information.
  • Survivor benefits – Spouses and dependent children of service members who died on active duty or as a result of service-related disabilities may be eligible to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. Other survivor benefits include the Civilian Health and Medical Program and the Dependents’ Education Assistance Program. For details on any of these survivor benefits, visit the VA’s Veterans Benefits website.

Programs That Hire Veterans

Service members learning about programs

Many organizations in the civilian world value your experience, skills, work ethic and training as a service member. You’ll find that a number of military-friendly employers are committed to hiring veterans.

Explore several online programs to help connect you with employers who are looking to hire veterans. Here are some top sites:

Veterans.gov

This site offers resources from the U.S. Department of Labor for job-seekers and employers who want to hire vets. You’ll find:

  • Job opportunities by category:  agriculture, energy, transportation, homeland security, federal government hiring, and more
  • A tool for finding jobs by location
  • Your nearest American Job Center
  • Help from the Small Business Administration for starting your own business
  • Plus one-on-one assistance, career exploration, finding training, skills translator, veteran employment center, resume builder, interest profiler, transition resources and more 

CareerOneStop Veteran and Military Transition Center

The Veteran and Military Transition Center website is a one-stop online shop for employment, training and financial help after military service. If you’re transitioning out, it offers some serious tools:

  • Military-to-Civilian Job Search by military job title and/or location
  • How to request important papers that you need
  • Matching your skills to civilian careers
  • Information about going back to school or getting training
  • Also financial and unemployment assistance

The U.S. Department of Labor sponsors CareerOneStop. While the website is designed for the general public, there are plenty of tools and resources that can be useful for veterans. It partners with the American Job Center network. American Job Centers have a mandate to connect veterans to job openings.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes

Hiring Our Heroes is a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It’s a nationwide initiative to help transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities.

The program networks with businesses through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and it partners with public, private and nonprofit organizations across the country.

You’ve got skills, training and discipline. Employers are looking for you. For more ways you can connect with a great job, check the Employment Resources and Services page.