As you approach your separation or retirement, you will be provided with a wealth of information from colleagues, briefings, computer-based training, and your federally-mandated Transition Assistance Program course. In fact, not only will you receive more information regarding your federal and state-level benefits than the average person can hope to retain, you will also likely be provided with an abundance of conflicting and incorrect information. At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to be knowledgeable about the benefits that are available to you by virtue of your service.
Where Do I Start?
Your journey towards being wholly-informed starts with the Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, and Survivors guidebook, published by the VA’s Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. Luckily, this resource is free and available to peruse online or download as a pdf. Where, you ask? Just click this link and grab a cup of coffee. You will need to read the whole thing, and all 70 pages are drier than stereo instructions. In fact, I’d suggest you read it twice.
You will need to read the whole thing, and all 70 pages are drier than stereo instructions. In fact, I’d suggest you read it twice.
This edition is due for an update, so check the link often. That being said, the content is still applicable. Bear in mind that this guidebook is an overview of commonly used and sought after benefits. It far from explains every benefit available in vivid detail, but is an absolutely essential starting point.
It is also important to note that this book does not cover any state-level veteran benefits (which vary by state). Some states offer their own GI Bills for service members and their dependents. Others exempt disabled veterans from paying property taxes. Additionally, there are scores of veteran-serving nonprofit organizations you will want to look into. There is a lot to consider, which can be overwhelming — just start with the federal end of things and take baby steps.
What Does The Guidebook Cover?
The Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, and Survivors guidebook starts with a list of important phones numbers and websites, then briefly explains how to get enrolled with eBenefits. eBenefits will be an important resource and tool for you, so sign up as soon as possible. Through the site you will be able to manage and apply for benefits like disability compensation, education, and vocational rehabilitation.
The guidebook contains an overview of health- and non-health-related benefits. The non-healthcare benefits section of the book is the largest and demands your focused attention. Like I said, grab a cup of coffee.
Sure, you should consider advice and information from your colleagues, but always verify with reliable sources.
As I stated earlier, being knowledgeable about your federal and state benefits is your responsibility. Sure, you should consider advice and information from your colleagues, but always verify with reliable sources. Are you aware of any unique or little-known federal- or state-level benefits? What have you found to be the most helpful? Share your thoughts in our comments section below or on our Facebook page.