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Military Separation Guide for Active Duty Personnel

It’s never too early to begin preparations for your separation from active military service. The Department of Defense (DoD) recommends that you start your planning at least 12 months prior to separation, and 24 months prior to retirement, from active duty. Start here!

1. Getting Out

1.1. Overview

An Overview of What You Should Know Before You Leave Military Service

It's never too early to begin preparations for your separation from active military service. The Department of Defense (DoD) recommends that you start your planning at least 12 months prior to separation, and 24 months prior to retirement, from active duty. The DoD's Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is is a vital resource to ensure that your separation/retirement choices are truly in your, and your family's, best interests. Transition counselors and online tools provide special transition benefits information, employment workshops, automated employment job-hunting tools and job banks, veteran benefits information, disabled veterans benefits information, and many other types of transition and other related information.

1.2. Word of Caution

Because of the complexity of the transition and VA benefits matters, having an experienced veterans service representative is always an advantage. Going it alone unnecessarily risks an unsuccessful outcome at virtually every stage of the proceedings. Professional representation enhances the chances of receiving a favorable results at the outset, thereby eliminating the need for time-consuming appeals. 

You should always coordinate your transition out of the military with a Transition Assistance Program.  If you have sustained any injuries or aggravated any injuires, diseases or disorders during your military service, you should contact a knowledgable veterans service organization before your transition to ensure that necessary documentation is in place to speed any claims for VA compensation.  See the Veterans Guide to VA Benefits for more information.

1.3. Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for the active component service consists of the following:

  1. Mandatory pre-separation counseling.
    Department of Labor (DOL) TAP employment workshops.
  2. Veterans benefits briefings conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
  3. Disabled Transition Assistance Program (DTAP), which is also facilitated by the VA and is designed to focus on the special needs of disabled service members.

The transition process begins with the completion of the DD Form 2648 ("Pre-separation Counseling Checklist"). The checklist allows you to indicate the benefits and services that you wish to receive additional counseling for. All separating and retiring service members should make an appointment to see their local transition counselor for information on transition services and benefits. Transition counselors are located in the following military installation offices:

Army: Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP). See www.acap.army.mil/.

Air Force: Airman and Family Readiness Center. See www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil.

Navy: Fleet and Family Support Center. Navy personnel should make an appointment with their command career counselor for a pre-separation counseling interview at least 180 days prior to separation. See http://www.nffsp.org/.

Marine Corps: Career Resource Management Center (CRMC)/Transition & Employment Assistance Program Center.
See www.usmc-mccs.org/tamp/index.cfm.

Coast Guard: Worklife Division––Coast Guard Worklife staff can be found at the nearest Integrated Support Command.

In order to effectively plan for your transition from military service to civilian life, you should consider the following.

  • Perform a self-assessment. Consider your skills, talents, and experience in terms of your attractiveness to an employer.
  • Exploration of employment options. Consider current and emerging occupational areas that are attractive to you and whether such jobs coincide with your knowledge, skills, and experience.
  • Skills development. Consider the skills that you will need to secure the kind of job that you want. Think about whether you would need additional education or training.
  • Try-outs. Consider whether there are internships, volunteer jobs, temporary services, or part-time jobs where you can decide if a certain job is really what you want.
  • The job search. Consider identifying job requirements and prospective employers, finding networks and placement agencies, and generally increasing your knowledge and experience in the job market. Explore how to write a resume, develop leads, complete job applications, and interview well.
  • Job selection. Consider how to identify the right job for you.
  • Support. Consider the kind of support you will require while you transition to a new career (e.g., financial, emotional, medical). Your family and friends can be a great source of support as well.

Think of your transition to civilian life as a journey on which you can use your individual transition plan as a road map. Your transition assistance counselor can help you address the foregoing points, as well as getting assistance in dealing with the stress that can result from life-altering changes and are a natural part of the transition process. Please remember that you are eligible for continued transition assistance for up to 180 days after your separation or retirement from active duty.

1.4. Pre-Separation Examinations and Service Medical Records

Unfortunately, a substantial number of separating service members waive pre-separation physical and psychological examinations in order to speed up the separation process. This can be a mistake of cosmic proportions.

Do not, repeat, do not even consider not having a pre-separation examination. As a general rule, one of the requirements for eligibility for post-service VA disability compensation benefits and health care is that there be a record of complaints, symptoms, treatment or diagnosis of disease, injury, disorder or disability during active military service. If you develop a service-related disability after your separation, but have nothing in your service medical records concerning that disability, and there is no pre-separation examination to confirm the presence of that disability or any indication, symptom, etc., that could serve as the basis for a medical professional's opinion that a current disability was related to military service, it will be highly unlikely that the VA will award you disability compensation. Since a service-connected disability is often the gateway to VA health care as well, not having a pre-separation examination could have adverse health consequences, not merely financial.

When you undergo your pre-separation examination, be sure to report any medical or psychological problem that you have experienced during your entire period of active service. Although disclosing some conditions, especially psychiatric conditions, might be considered embarrassing, it is worth reporting them, rather than jeopardize you right to VA benefits and health care.

Once you have undergone your pre-separation examination, be sure that you obtain complete copies of your service medical records (including both entrance (induction) and separation examinations, interim examinations, hospital admission records and outpatient treatment records). It is also a good idea to get copies of your service administrative/personnel file as well. These documents can be certified as true copies of your records by military records custodians. Your transition assistance officer can help you request these important records.

2. Important Documents

2.1. Military Records

It is absolutely essential that you ensure that all of your military records are accurate before you separate from military service. This includes your service medical records and your administrative/personnel file (including performance evaluations, service-issued licenses or certifications, DD Form 2586 ["Verification of Military Experience and Training"] and any security clearances). You are entitled to review these files and to make complete copies of them for your records. You should keep your records in a safe and permanent file. Never give out the original copy of any of these documents.

2.2. DD-214

Your "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty", commonly known as "DD-214", is, possibly, the most important document that you will receive from the military. You cannot obtain VA benefits without presenting a DD-214.

Keep your original DD-214 (and all service documents) in a safe, fireproof place and make at least 10 certified copies. In most states, you can register or record your DD-214 with county or town registrar's office. Before doing so, however, you should inquire whether state or local laws permit public access to the recorded document. If public access is authorized, private identifying information may become available to the general public, which could compromise your privacy and financial security.

As an alternative, you can have your local VA Veterans (Vet) Center (discussed more fully below) certify your DD-214 and have a copy placed in its files. You can visit the VA's Vet Center directory online at www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp 

 

2.3. DD-214 Challenging Your Character of Discharge

Eligibility for many VA benefits, including disability compensation and NSC pension, require that you separated from active service with an honorable discharge. A less than honorable discharge may result in your being barred from such benefits. The Departments of the Army, Air Force, and Navy (which includes the Marine Corps), and the Coast Guard each have their own discharge review boards (DRB). The DRBs have the authority to modify or correct any discharge or dismissal from the service, unless it was the result of a general court martial. DRBs, however, have no jurisdiction over medical discharges. If you believe that your character of discharge (e.g., dishonorable, other than honorable, general) was made in error, you may request a discharge review using DD Form 293 ("Application for Review of Discharge or Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States/Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States"). This form is available at: www.veterans.ocgov.com/forms/DD-293.pdf. The request can also be filed by your next-of-kin or a legal representative. The deadline for filing an application for a DRB review is within 15 years after separation from active service.

Each service department also has a Boards of Correction for Military Records (BCMR). Review by a BCMR is available if an application for a discharge review is received within three years of your reasonable discovery of the error (i.e., when your should have discovered the error, as opposed to when you actually discovered it). You should, however, first apply to the DRB if your DRB 15-year application period has not expired. Please see your service department website for BCMR application forms and procedures.

2.4. Separation Medical Disabilltiy Medical/Physical Evaluation Boards

If you are facing separation from active service on the basis of a medical disability, you will most likely be evaluated by a military medical evaluation board (MEB) or physical evaluation board (PEB). MEBs and PEBs are composed of military physicians or psychiatric professionals who will examine you directly or review your service medical records to determine whether you are able to return to duty or whether your disability precludes you from continued active service. In addition, if you are to be separated from active service on medical grounds, the MEB/PEB will issue a disability rating that will determine whether or not you may be entitled to DoD compensation benefits.

Once a decision has been reached, you will be given the opportunity to either accept the decision (by signing a written acceptance), or you may challenge the decision. You are also entitled to a hearing before the MEB/PEB if you challenge the decision. You are permitted to have a representative during the challenge process, including an attorney. If you are dissatisfied with the decision, you should elect to challenge it. You can contact United Spinal Association at (301) 495-4460 for information about obtaining a representative to assist you in challenging a MEB/PEB determination,

2.5. Correcting Inaccurate Military Records

Each branch of the military has its own procedures for correcting service members' military records. After reviewing your service records, if you believe that there is an error, you should complete and file DD Form 149 ("Application for Correction of Military or Naval Record"). The form can be submitted by the service member or veteran, a survivor, or a legal representative. This form is available at www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/correcting-records.html.

2.6. Missing Medals, Ribbons or Awards

Before you separate from active service, you should check your records and your collection of military awards, medals, ribbons, badges, and other distinguished insignia. If you believe that you are entitled to additional awards or decorations that you have not received, or that you are missing any decorations, certificates, etc., that you have been awarded, contact your unit personnel officer about obtaining new awards or decoration, or replacements. In the former case, ask your unit personnel officer for the service regulation that governs the eligibility requirements for the award or decoration.

You may also purchase lost ribbons and medals from your military exchange, however, you must have proof that you are entitled to them. Replacement medals and ribbons can be also obtained for a small fee from the NPRC. See www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/replacement-medals.html for more information.

Once you have separated from service, you may request the issuance or replacement of medals, decorations, and awards through your service department. You can use the SF 180 ("Request Pertaining to Military Records") to request medals and awards, as well as your service records. See www.vetrecs.archives.gov.

2.7. National Personnel Records

You or your next-of-kin can request a copy of your DD Form 214, your service medical records and other service-related documents at any time, even after your separation from active service, online by going to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) website at www.vetrecs.archives.gov/. You can also request a copy by mail by completing and submitting SF 180 ("Request Pertaining to Military Records") to the NPRC. You can obtain this form through the NPRC website, or request the form by fax by calling the NPRC's Fax-on-Demand System at (301) 837-0990 from a fax machine, using the handset. Follow the voice instructions, and request document number 2255. For assistance, call (314) 801-0800. Once completed, send the form to:

National Personnel Records Center
Attention: [your service department, e.g., Army Records]
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5000

3. General Information Separating Service Members

3.1. Legal Assistance for Separating Service Members

If you have legal problems, either on or off the installation, legal assistance is available at your place of separation. Contact your installation's Transition Office for referral to a Legal Assistance Officer. This service is not available to you once you leave the military, so you must seek it before you separate.

Retirees can use the base legal office on a space-available basis. Depending on the location, there could be a lengthy wait to see a legal representative. Retirees should contact the base legal office as far in advance as possible to ensure that services will be available.

3.2. Uniformed Thrift Savings Plan (UTSP)

The Uniformed Thrift Savings Plan

If you participated in the Uniformed Thrift Savings Plan (UTSP) while you were on active service, you have several options available, including:

  • Leave your money in the UTSP. If your money remains in the UTSP, it will continue to accrue earnings. Although you will not be able to make additional contributions, you will be able to make interfund transfers. You must begin withdrawing from your account no later than April 1st of the year following the year you turn 70.
  • Receive a single payment. All or a portion of your account can be transferred to a traditional IRA or eligible employer plan (e.g., a 401(k) plan or your civilian UTSP account).
  • Request a series of monthly payments based on a dollar amount or your life expectancy. All or a portion of certain monthly payments can be transferred to a traditional IRA or eligible employer plan.
  • Request a UTSP annuity. You must have at least $3,500 in your account in order to purchase an annuity.

3.3. Financial Planning

Your financial situation can change dramatically during your transition, so careful financial planning is the key to successful post-service financial health. Service department Family Centers offer seminars that are extremely helpful in the area of financial planning, as well as individual counseling. Emergency loans are also available. Other services include family budgets and spending plans, recordkeeping, insurance, credit, debt liquidation, consumer rights, taxes and investments.

3.4. Separation Pay

Certain separating service members are entitled to separation pay, which is paid on the basis of 10 percent of your annual base pay at the time of your separation, multiplied by the number of years of active service. Eligibility requires that you have satisfied all of the following elements: you have finished your first term of enlistment or period of obligated service; you have at least six years of service; you are separating involuntarily; you are not currently eligible for retirement; and you are not separating under adverse conditions. To determine if you qualify for separation pay, contact your unit commander and local personnel and finance offices. If you qualify, the finance office at your installation can compute the actual payment amount.

3.5. Service Members' Group Life Insurance (SGLI)

SGLI is low-cost term insurance protection for active service personnel, members of the ready reserves, members of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service, cadets and midshipmen of the four service academies, and members of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

SGLI continues to cover you for the first 120 days after your separation. If you are totally disabled at the time of your separation, your SGLI coverage can continue without paying premiums, for up to two years from the date of your separation. Following the expiration of your SGLI extension, you may choose VA life insurance options.

3.6. Social Security for Separating Service Members

It is important to remember that all service members pay into Social Security. Therefore, your time in the military is counted toward your eligibility for Social Security aged-based retirement income, as well as for supplemental security income and disability income. You can contact your local Social Security office, listed under "U.S. Government," in the telephone book. You can also go to www.ssa.gov/, or call 1-800-772-1213.

3.7. Relocation Asssistance

An important part of your transition from military service will be deciding where you want to reside as a civilian. During the transition process, you will receive a lot of information and counseling to assist you in making this critical decision.

You should start thinking about where you would like to live and be sure to keep in mind such factors as whether the kind of jobs that you are interested in will be available in that area. Which areas are most likely to have jobs that match your skills, experience, and career goals? What is the cost of living in the community that you choose? Does the state that you select tax military retirement pay? Do you already have family and/or friends there? These and similar concerns should be evaluated carefully.

Before moving, be sure to consult your nearest Family Center, which is an excellent source for relocation information and planning assistance. Family Centers can be accessed through:

Army: Army Community Service Center
Air Force: Airman & Family Readiness Center
Navy: Fleet and Family Support Center
Marine Corps: Marine and Family Services

Specialists within the Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) can help to prepare you for your relocation after leaving active service. RAP services include needs assessment and planning for individuals and families tailored to their personal circumstances and requirements and extensive information concerning military and civilian communities worldwide. See www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil. These features include information on housing directories and services, employment, education, health and wellness, as well as family services available near military installations. RAP specialists can also assist you in developing a relocation plan. Once you know your departure date, visit the RAP office at your local Family Center.

3.8. Authorized Leave / Permissive Temporary Duty (PTDY)

When you are ready to begin searching for a post-separation job or housing, to facilitate relocation you may be eligible for authorized administrative leave. Permissive Temporary Duty (PTDY) authority to facilitate transition into civilian life for house and job hunting for military members being involuntarily separated under honorable conditions, or retiring from active duty, can be extended indefinitely. Personnel being discharged or released from active service as involuntary separatees under honorable conditions can receive up to 30 days of leave, or transition PTDY up to 10 days, as required to facilitate relocation. However, such leave may not be available if it will interfere with military missions.

The spouse of an eligible involuntary separatee or a retiree may take one round trip on a military aircraft for house and job hunting on a space-available basis. He or she does not have to be accompanied by a military spouse. Similarly, if you are attending a DoD-approved transition assistance seminar, you may use military air transportation, if available.

Service members separating at the end of a normal term of service (ETS – Expiration Term of Service) or (EAOS – End of Active Duty Obligated Service) are not eligible for PTDY.

3.9. Transportation to Your New Home

Once you have chosen your new hometown, you should arrange for transportation counseling. Schedule an appointment with your installation's Transportation Office as soon as you have your orders. The reimbursement amount for moving expenses is limited. If you are stationed overseas, you may be authorized to ship an automobile to the United States. Motorcycles may be shipped as part of your personal property. Please note that airline tickets must be purchased from the Commercial Travel Office (CTO) under contract to your branch of service. See www.secureapp2.hqda.pentagon.mil/perdiem/ for more details.

3.10. Leaving Your Current Housing

If you live in military quarters, you are required to arrange a time for a member of the housing staff to come to your home to perform a pre-inspection and to explain the requirements for cleaning and vacating quarters, as well as options available for you to accomplish them. You should make an appointment with the Housing Office as soon as your departure date is established.

If you are moving from a rental property, you should notify your landlord as soon as possible. The Housing Office can assist you with any landlord-tenant problems that you may experience in conjunction with your separation, such as breaking a lease or pre-mature termination.

3.11. Shipping and Storing Household Goods

Eligible involuntary separatees and retirees are authorized storage and shipment of household goods for up to one full year. Your items may be shipped to any destination within the United States. Other separatees are authorized storage and shipment of household goods for up to six months. Your items may be shipped to your home of record (i.e., where you lived when you entered the military) or where you were initially called to active duty.

3.12. Special Needs Family Member Relocaiton help

Families with members who have special needs can find information on the services available in your new hometown through the Family Center, the United Way/Community Chest, the community social services office listed in the local telephone directory, or the closest VA medical center. Please see the special needs website at www.militaryhomefront.dod.mil/.

3.13. Reserve Affiliation

After your separation from active service, you will have the opportunity to join the Selected Reserve or the National Guard. Doing so will allow you to retain many of your military benefits. If you are voluntarily separating from active service prior to fulfilling your contracted term of service, you can satisfy that obligation by becoming a member of the Ready Reserve in one of the following categories:

Selected Reserve: You may voluntarily affiliate with the Selected Reserve, either with a National Guard or Reserve unit, or a Reserve individual program.

Inactive National Guard: If you served in the Army, you may become a member of the Army National Guard, and request transfer to the Inactive National Guard if you are unable to participate in regular unit training.

Individual Ready Reserve (IRR): If you do not affiliate with one of the above programs, your service department will automatically assign you to the Individual Ready Reserve.

If you have served eight years or more of active duty, you may no longer have a military service obligation and do not have to affiliate with the National Guard or Reserves. You may, however, elect to continue your military service by affiliating with a Reserve component. Before you separate from active service, explore your Reserve options in the geographic area in which you plan to live after separation.

To sign up for Reserve duty while you are still on active service, contact your installation's Reserve Component Transition Office. To do so after you have separated, contact the nearest Reserve or National Guard unit listed in your local telephone directory. Any recruiting office can direct you to the appropriate recruiter. You can also refer to the following  Appendix or Reserve websites.

4. Health Care

4.1. Transition Overview

Often overlooked in the chaos of separating from active military service, but perhaps one of the most critical arrangements that must be made, is the arrangement for the veteran's, and his or her family's, health care insurance. It is very important that before you leave military service, you arrange for health insurance to protect yourself and your family from medical debt.

While it is quite likely that health insurance will accompany your new civilian job, you will be responsible for medical expenses that you or your family members incur during the period between when your entitlement to military health care ends and your private health insurance becomes effective. Accordingly, you should secure private health insurance before your separation. Your Transition Officer can assist you in doing so, as well as the Health Benefits Advisor at any military medical facility.

For those families who are expecting a baby, separating active duty service members who separate from the military prior to the baby's delivery may be eligible to deliver the child in a military treatment facility, even after separation. You should contact the Commander at your military treatment facility to see if you qualify for a post-separation delivery.

4.2. Pre-separation Examination and Service Medical Records

Unfortunately, a substantial number of separating service members waive pre-separation physical and psychological examinations in order to speed up the separation process. This can be a mistake of cosmic proportions.

Do not, repeat, do not even consider not having a pre-separation examination. As a general rule, one of the requirements for eligibility for post-service VA disability compensation benefits and health care is that there be a record of complaints, symptoms, treatment or diagnosis of disease, injury, disorder or disability during active military service. If you develop a service-related disability after your separation, but have nothing in your service medical records concerning that disability, and there is no pre-separation examination to confirm the presence of that disability or any indication, symptom, etc., that could serve as the basis for a medical professional's opinion that a current disability was related to military service, it will be highly unlikely that the VA will award you disability compensation. Since a service-connected disability is often the gateway to VA health care as well, not having a pre-separation examination could have adverse health consequences, not merely financial.

When you undergo your pre-separation examination, be sure to report any medical or psychological problem that you have experienced during your entire period of active service. Although disclosing some conditions, especially psychiatric conditions, might be considered embarrassing, it is worth reporting them, rather than jeopardize you right to VA benefits and health care.

Once you have undergone your pre-separation examination, be sure that you obtain complete copies of your service medical records (including both entrance (induction) and separation examinations, interim examinations, hospital admission records and outpatient treatment records). It is also a good idea to get copies of your service administrative/personnel file as well. These documents can be certified as true copies of your records by military records custodians. Your transition assistance officer can help you request these important records.

4.3. VA Medical Care

The VA's health care delivery program is one of the largest integrated health care systems in the nation. The system includes hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers and specialty care centers and clinics. The system is organized in regional groups called "Veterans Integrated Service Networks" (VISN). The VISNs are designed to pool and align resources to better meet local health care needs and provide greater access to care. VA health care is provided in the form of a "medical benefits package," which includes preventative care (e.g., immunizations, examinations, screening, health education programs), hospital care (e.g., emergency inpatient care, inpatient diagnostic testing, surgery, inpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment), outpatient/ambulatory care (e.g., emergency outpatient care, diagnostic testing, medical, surgical, mental health and substance abuse, chiropractic care, and bereavement counseling), as well as prescription medication, equipment and supplies.

Eligibility requirements are based on active duty service in the armed forces. National Guard members and reservists who have been called to active duty are eligible as well. Service members, including Guard and Reserve personnel, who have served on active duty in a theater of combat operations have special eligibility for VA inpatient, outpatient, and nursing home care for two years following their separation from active service.

In order to receive treatment from the VA, veterans must first enroll in the system. The enrollment application (VA Form 10-10EZ) can be obtained from any VA health care facility or regional office. While the VA recommends that all veterans who desire VA medical services formally enroll, there are certain categories of veterans that are automatically eligible for treatment. These include: veterans seeking care for a disability that has already been service-connected, veterans with at least one disability rated at 50% or more, and veterans who, within 12 months of their military discharge, seek care for a disability that the military has determined was incurred in, or aggravated by, military service, but which the VA has not yet rated.

4.4. TRICARE and Transitional Health Care

TRICARE is a DoD program that provides in-service and post-service health care to eligible military personnel and their family members. The Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP) offers transitional TRICARE coverage to certain separating active duty members and their families members. Health care is available for a limited time. TRICARE eligibility under TAMP is available up to 180 days. There are four categories of eligibility for TAMP:

  • Members involuntarily separated from active duty and their eligible family members;
  • National Guard and Reserve members (collectively known as the Reserve Component [RC]), separated from active duty after being called up or ordered in support of a contingency operation for an active duty period of more than 30 days. Family members are also eligible.
  • Members separated from active duty after being involuntarily retained in support of a contingency operation, as well as their family members; and
  • Members separated from active duty following a voluntary agreement to stay on active duty for less than one year in support of a contingency mission, as well as their family members.Active duty sponsors and family members enrolled in TRICARE Prime who desire to continue their enrollment upon the sponsoring service member's separation from active duty status are required to re-enroll. To re-enroll, the sponsor or family member must complete and submit a TRICARE Prime enrollment application. You should contact your servicing personnel center prior to separating to see if you are TAMP eligible.

Please note: Transitional health care does not apply to retirees.

After the 180-day period for transitional health care has expired, you and your family are no longer eligible to use military treatment facilities or TRICARE. However, you may purchase extended health care coverage, known as the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP). You have 60 days after your initial transitional health care ends to enroll in CHCBP. If you enroll, you and your family members will be issued identification cards that will allow you to use military treatment www.tricare.osd.mil.

If, however, you separate voluntarily, you and your family are not eligible to use military treatment facilities or TRICARE. Nevertheless, you may purchase extended transitional health care coverage (CHCBP) for up to 18 months of coverage. You have 60 days after separation to enroll in CHCBP, and, if you do, your coverage will begin on the day after your separation.

4.5. Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP)

Following the loss of eligibility for military medical benefits, you or a family member may apply for temporary, transitional medical coverage under the CHCBP. The CHCBP is a premium-based health care program that provides medical coverage to a select group of former military beneficiaries. CHCBP is similar to, but not part of, TRICARE. The CHCBP program extends health care coverage to the following individuals when they lose military benefits:

  • The service member (who can also enroll his or her family members);
  • Certain former spouses who have not remarried; and
  • Certain children who lose military coverage.

Humana Military Healthcare Services, Inc. administers the CHCBP for the DoD. You should contact Humana Military Healthcare Services, Inc., in writing or by phone for information regarding CHCBP. You may also write to Humana at Humana Military Healthcare Services, Inc., Attn: CHCBP, P.O. Box 740072, Louisville, KY 40201, or call 1-800-444-5445.

A copy of the CHCBP enrollment application can also be found on the web at www.humanamilitary.com/chcbp/pdf/dd2837.pdf, www.tricare.mil and www.humana-military.com.

Remember, if you separate voluntarily, you and your family are not eligible to use military treatment facilities or TRICARE. However, you are eligible to purchase extended transitional health care coverage (CHCBP) for up to 18 months of coverage. You have 60 days after separation to enroll in CHCBP. Your coverage will start the day after your separation.

4.6. Medical Care for Retirees

TRICARE offers retiree beneficiaries three options in obtaining medical care:

TRICARE Prime is a health maintenance organization-type managed care program for which retirees are required to pay an annual enrollment fee. Enrollees are assigned a primary care manager who determines the most appropriate available source of care—a military treatment facility or a civilian network provider. Enrollees pay little or no co-payment and are usually not required to file claims for their care.

TRICARE Extra is a preferred provider organization-type (PPO) program. There are no enrollment requirements, but health care must be provided by a TRICARE network provider. You will be responsible for paying annual deductibles and out-of-pocket shares at a reduced rate. The network provider will file your claims for you.

TRICARE Standard is a fee-for-service program that requires an annual deductible and out-of-pocket shares once the deductible has been satisfied. You will be responsible for filing your own claims. Beneficiaries should contact their Health Benefits Advisors/Beneficiary Counselor and Assistance Coordinators (BCAC) at MTFs or stop in at your TRICARE Service Center for more assistance. A counselor locator can be found at www.tricare.mil/bcacdcao/.

If a service member or family member becomes entitled to Medicare Part A, whether due to a disability or when they turn 65, they are eligible for TRICARE For Life (TFL). There are no TFL enrollment fees, but you will be required to pay Medicare Part B premiums (unless the sponsor is on active duty). When using TFL, TRICARE acts as the secondary payer after Medicare in most cases. For more information about TFL, you can visit http://wwww.tricare.mil/tfl.

5. Transition and Job Training

5.1. Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS)

The Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) serves America's veterans and separating service members by preparing them for meaningful careers, providing employment resources and expertise, and protecting their employment rights.

More can be found about the DOL's VETS service at their website: http://www.dol.gov/vets

5.2. Veterans (Vet Centers)

The VA's Readjustment Counseling Service operates Vet Centers nationwide, which provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to all veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for family members as well for military-related issues. Readjustment counseling includes individual and group counseling, marital and family counseling, bereavement counseling, medical referrals, assistance in applying for VA benefits, employment counseling, substance abuse counseling and referral, information and referral to community resources, military sexual trauma counseling referral, as well as outreach and community education. To find your local Vet Center, use the Vet Center Directory at www.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter.asp or call 1-800-905-4675 (Eastern) and 1-866-496-8838 (Pacific).

5.3. State Veterans Benefits

Many states offer veterans benefits in addition to those offered by the VA. These benefits may include educational grants and scholarships, special exemptions or discounts on fees and taxes, home loans, veteran's homes, free hunting and fishing privileges, and more. Each state manages its own benefit programs. Go to www.va.gov/vso/index.cfm?template=view&SortCategory=3 to view the directory of websites for each of the individual states that offer veterans benefits.

5.4. Education and Vocational Training Programs

The government provides education and training to separating service members to assist them in achieving the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain the careers that they want to pursue. The VA administers several programs in this regard, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) and the Post-Vietnam-era Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). Under these programs, the VA provides financial assistance to veterans for enrollment in degree programs, technical and vocational programs, correspondence courses, flight training courses, and on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs. These programs must be approved by the VA before benefits can be paid.

The Post-9/11 bill, the MGIB and the VEAP are designed to help develop skills that will enhance opportunities for employment. In general, the benefits under either of these programs must be used within 10 years of separation from active duty.

For more information go to our VA Guide to VA Benefits:  http://helpdesk.vetsfirst.org/index.php?pg=kb.book&id=76

5.5. Other Education and Training Options

You should take advantage of the transition process to consider your options for future success, especially your education and training options. Before your separation from active duty, visit your local Education Center, Navy College Office, or Marine Corps LifeLong Learning Center. Guidance counselors there can provide assistance in determining the goals that are right for you, the appropriate curriculum and educational institution, and help you with the paperwork necessary to enroll in an academic or vocational program. If you are unsure of what you want to do after military service, counselors can recommend aptitude tests or vocational interest inventories to help clarify your career goals and identify skills for which you have an aptitude. Once these skills are identified, they can be matched to specific occupations and careers outside of the military.

Once you have identified your career goals, education counselors can also advise you on alternative educational opportunities, such as college-level equivalency examinations, part-time educational programs that allow you to work while you train, converting your military training and experience into college credit, distance learning opportunities (including learning though CD-Rom, the Internet, satellite TV, cable TV, and DVD/video tape), and vocational and technical school programs designed to provide the skills needed to work in occupations that do not require a college degree.

Your military occupational specialty (MOS) may require a license or certification in the civilian workforce. There are several resources available to assist you in finding civilian requirements for licensing and certification, including the following:

Appendix VA

1. Contacting the VA

The VA has 58 regional offices and more than 17O VA medical centers nationwide and in the Philippines. In addition, there are numerous outpatient clinics, vet centers and national cemeteries. The VA's toll-free telephone number is 1-800-827-1000 that will connect you to the VA regional office nearest the location that you are calling from. You can also visit the VA's website at www.va.gov.

Appendix Reserve

1. Websites for Reserves

U.S. Air National Guard: www.goang.com
U.S. Air Force Reserves: www.afreserve.com
U.S. Army National Guard: www.1800goguard.com
U.S. Army Reserves: www.army.mil/usar or www.goarmyreserve.com
U.S Coast Guard Reserves: www.uscg.mil/
U.S. Marine Corps: www.marforres.usmc.mil or www.mfr.usmc.mil
U.S. Navy Reserve: www.navyreserve.mil