Transitioning From Military to Healthcare: Tips for Veterans

Transitioning From Military to Healthcare: Tips for Veterans

In the military, you were expected to treat everyone—coworkers, superiors, and patients respectfully. This same philosophy should be carried into your civilian career in healthcare.

Healthcare costs can be a significant expense when you transition to civilian life. Make sure to budget for premiums, cost shares, and deductibles.

Know Your Rights

As a Veteran, you have fundamental rights that you must be aware of. These include freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws. The ACLU of Idaho’s Know Your Rights page can help you stay informed and defend your rights if they are violated.

Despite significant progress in transition assistance programs, many Veterans struggle to navigate the civilian world upon separation from military service (U.S. Department of Defense, 2021b). Transition concerns cited by service members and veterans include accomplishment of the Service-Connected Disability Award process, reconnection to civilian communities, and integration of new identities.

Another challenge is understanding health insurance terminology and costs. Many transitioning service members find the cost of healthcare a significant financial shock; for example, some cannot afford healthcare co-payments and stop taking medication because they can’t pay them (U.S. Department of Defense, n.d.). Fortunately, today’s DOD and VA have established transition support services and programs that assist service members with planning their post-military financial needs, including ensuring access to adequate healthcare coverage.

Know Your Benefits

The military offers a unique set of benefits unavailable to civilians. These benefits are essential to blue cross veterans affairs but can also be confusing. A clear understanding of what’s available can help ease the transition into civilian life.

When it comes to health care, you need to understand what’s available to you and the costs. Considering the upfront costs and deductibles when choosing a health plan is essential. Depending on where you live, your options may vary.

Gigi A. Simko, FACHE, a military Veteran who worked as an air force healthcare executive, credits her successful career transition to starting early and being thorough in preparation. She also recommends taking advantage of resources offered by ACHE to guide your next steps.

Look for Employers

When looking for a new job, many veterans can feel overwhelmed by the challenge of finding a role that matches their skills and experience. This feeling can be even more daunting for those seeking to work in the healthcare field.

Medical professionals can find employment in various settings, including stand-alone clinics, doctors’ offices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private or public research laboratories, and the Veterans Health Administration. The VA offers veterans various healthcare opportunities, from physical therapists to pharmacists, social workers, registered nurses, and radiologic technologists.

Looking for employers that value military service members can make the transition from military to healthcare much smoother.

Take Care of Your Health

Transitioning from military to civilian healthcare can bring new health concerns for many veterans. They may need to find a new primary care provider, get re-certified in certain areas, or seek help for conditions like depression, PTSD, and insomnia.

Vets must make time for their well-being. They should also take the time to reconnect with their family and friends, especially since they might have more free time now that they’re not on active duty.

Veterans must also prepare for situations requiring disclosure of their mental health issues. For example, suppose they have a mental health condition, and commanders or supervisors see that their symptoms impact their work performance. In that case, those individuals may ask for a command-directed psychiatric evaluation. These evaluations do not provide as much confidentiality as a medical consultation with the individual. This could lead to stigmatization or even loss of employment if the information is discovered.

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