In Fiscal Year 2019, the Department of Defense rolled out significant changes to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). These are the first noteworthy changes in the program since 2011. TAP changes apply to all active duty, National Guard, and reservists who have at least 180 days or more of continuous active duty.
The servicemember is now expected to begin their Transition Assistance Program 365 days prior to transition or retirement. Retirees are encouraged to begin the process 2-years prior to their planned retirement date.
This is an excellent time period for the transitioning servicemembers to start reviewing their medical treatment records in preparation for filling their initial service-connected VA claims. You should discuss any medical issues that have not been addressed during your active duty time period, including any mental health symptoms you may have.
Often, military personnel hold to the warrior culture of the military and avoid medical treatment for fear of being labeled weak. Now is the time to get medical attention if needed.
If you sustained any injuries while in service or if any preexisting conditions were exacerbated, it is extremely important to make sure these incidents and/or injuries were properly annotated in your service record book and your medical records. Once you leave service, getting these issues properly documented is much more difficult than while in service, if not impossible.
This would also be a good time to get statements from anyone from your unit that was witness to the event or injury that caused your disability. Sometimes, finding your buddies 5 years after service can be challenging.
Another important part of TAP is getting connected to the resources that give you the best opportunity for success in the civilian world. Whether you plan includes a direct path to the workforce or if you are planning on furthering your education, the Transition Assistance Program has excellent resources.
All the services have excellent programs for assisting service men and women with their transition. The Army and the Marines have gone above and beyond with their programs Soldier for Life and Marine for Life.
Once you are home, you need to connect with your local Veteran’s Hospital and make sure you are on any applicable registries, such as the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. You should also connect with your County Veteran’s Service Officer to file any claims you did not file during your transition. Your CVSO likely has a wealth of knowledge for State and local benefits specific to their area.
Lastly, once home, investigate your local and state Veteran’s Service Organizations. These hometown connections can really ease the transition for you and your family, especially for those with no close family.
A good VSO can help you connect with resources and people who have been in your position and understand what you are experiencing. There are thousands of organizations across the country that make it their mission to help Veterans and their families. Find one that fits you.
Upon review of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ratings for your service-connected disabilities, if any of your issues were denied or if you feel like you received an evaluation that you do not agree with, please contact us at Berry Law. Berry Law is your fire support team to battle the VA, and we will not stop fighting until every Veteran receives all the disability benefits they earned.
Why? Well, Berry Law was founded by a Vietnam Veteran and features attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. We are Veterans, and we are committed to helping fellow Veterans in their fight for disability benefits. If you need assistance with your VA claim, contact Berry Law today.
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