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VA coordinator helps navigate military transition to civilian life

  • Published
  • By Christi Spargur
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Located on the fifth floor of the base medical clinic, the Department of Veterans Affairs-St. Louis Transition and Care Management office helps retiring and separating servicemembers make the move from military to civilian life by providing VA healthcare registration services for those who are within one year of discharge or retirement.

Program coordinator, Liz Wilde, said, “Transitioning can be a very difficult time. On the one hand, individuals may be excited to start a new journey. Yet, taking off the uniform for the first time can also be pretty scary. That’s where we come in. Our office takes the journey with the member.

“What we do is have the member fill out a simple form that takes about three to five minutes. With that form, I can coordinate the member’s VA healthcare registration. At the same time, we can share information about other VA benefits the member is entitled to, as well as educate them on the variety of services the VA offers.”

To be eligible to receive VA healthcare benefits, the member needs to have two years of consecutive, active-duty service or have been deployed under Title 10 orders. “Not all situations are the same,” Wilde cautioned. “We always encourage servicemembers who are unsure about their eligibility to ask.”

Wilde also emphasized that the process isn’t cumbersome or lengthy.

“I think it’s a myth that to apply with the VA there are a lot of barriers,” said Wilde. “In reality, this isn’t true. It’s really a matter of less than five minutes - meeting face-to-face, bringing a picture ID, and filling out an application - to start the process.”

Like Wilde, who served in the Army, many VA employees are prior military, come from a military family, or are still serving as Guardsmen and Reservists. Having a military background gives them an insider’s understanding about what servicemembers are feeling as they transition to a civilian life out of uniform.  

“We understand the military culture,” said Wilde. “We are here to help make the transition from military life to civilian life seamless.

“Servicemembers in transition have our support. We can take care of some of the things on the out processing checklist. We can be the first person military members see and sometimes we are,” said Wilde. “We provide the navigation support and help get them connected with the right points of contact for any of the VA programs and services.”

The Transition and Care Management office is open on Tuesdays and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a walk-in basis. In addition to assisting transitioning servicemembers, the office can also help with post-discharge enrollments. For more information, contact the office at (314) 289-7641.

A VA Compensation and Pension Office, a Vet Center, a VA Home-Based Primary Care coordinator, and representatives from Disabled American Veterans and Wounded Warrior are also co-located with the Transition and Care Management office on the fifth floor.