Short-timer? Plan your post-ser­vice ben­e­fits

The Weekly Vista - - Fun & Games -

If you’re about to leave the ser­vice, there are a num­ber of tran­si­tion ser­vices you need to know about. Your big­gest is­sue will be tim­ing.

Wher­ever you’re sta­tioned, there is a ben­e­fits ad­viser avail­able, as well as a Tran­si­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram (TAP) man­ager. Their job is to help you through the process and make sure no stone is left un­turned in get­ting you the ben­e­fits you need once you’re out.

As a first step, to learn about all the ben­e­fits and ser­vices avail­able to you, go on­line (www.ben­e­fits.va.gov/TAP/) and se­lect ei­ther Ac­tive Duty or Na­tional Guard/ Re­serve. Both will take you to a page with your ben­e­fits listed.

Don’t miss out on the Pre-Dis­charge ben­e­fits if you’re ac­tive duty and el­i­gi­ble for those. Start­ing 180 days be­fore sep­a­ra­tion or re­tire­ment, you can sub­mit a claim for dis­abil­ity com­pen­sa­tion. It will take a min­i­mum of 90 days to get you or­ga­nized with that so it’s all in place by the time you’re out. You’ll need VA Form 21-526EZ and your med­i­cal records. Read all of the de­tails on this page so you don’t miss any­thing. Mark im­por­tant dates on a cal­en­dar — it’s that crit­i­cal that you don’t miss dead­lines.

The other ben­e­fits listed in­clude health care, ed­u­ca­tion, home loans (in­clud­ing re­fi­nance and in­ter­est-rate re­duc­tion), in­sur­ance and vo­ca­tional re­hab, and em­ploy­ment. In ad­di­tion, ca­reer coun­sel­ing and fidu­ciary ser­vices are avail­able.

Spouses aren’t be­ing left out. They are en­cour­aged to go to the ben­e­fits brief­ing, add their in­put and ask ques­tions. In fact, many of the ad­vis­ers are ei­ther vet­er­ans or mil­i­tary spouses. They’ll know how to help you.

You’ve earned th­ese ben­e­fits. What­ever your sit­u­a­tion, don’t miss out on the ben­e­fits brief­ings. If you can’t get to a TAP meet­ing, the in­for­ma­tion can be ac­cessed at the link above. Scroll down to se­lect the agency.

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