Soldier for Life Facebook Townhall: All Questions and Answers


Today’s post was compiled by the U.S. Army Soldier for Life program

On Wednesday, June 3, Soldier for Life (SFL) hosted a Facebook Townhall, answering 26 questions on topics ranging from education, employment,health, retirement and more. SFL is a Soldier’s lifelong connection to the Army, and is the bridge between service members and the education, employment and health resources that help them serve strong in and out of uniform. Soldier for Life is a mindset: from recruitment to retirement or separation, a Soldier is a Soldier for Life!

Here are all the questions and answers from the June 3 Soldier for Life Facebook Townhall.

Col. Adam Rocke (pictured bottom left) and the Soldier for Life Team was on hand to answer questions during the June 3 Facebook Townhall.

Col. Adam Rocke (pictured bottom left) and the Soldier for Life Team was on hand to answer questions during the June 3 Facebook Townhall.

Easter Seals Dixon Center If you could give only one piece of advice to a soldier preparing to transition back into the community, what would it be?
Soldier For Life
Great question! Start early, leverage your network and visit your SFL-TAP center! #SoldierForLife

Kimberly Holdeman Where can RC Soldiers connect to employment assistance outside of an installation?
Soldier For Life RC Soldiers can be referred to local resources through the Army National Guard Family Assistance Centers: https://www.jointservicessupport.org/spn and the Army Reserve Public, Private, Partnership Offices: http://www.usar.army.mil/resources/pages/employer-partnership-opportunities-and-information.aspx

Jennifer Jersey Hello – this is great – however I am a Navy spouse – can I use this or is there a Navy equivalent?
Soldier For Life The Navy certainly has an appreciation for the importance of transitioning and continues to support transitioning Sailors and their Families. However, the comprehensive resourcing offered by Soldier for Life can be utilized by any Service Member and Family member as a primary or secondary source in Health, Education or Employment: www.soldierforlife.army.mil

Dan Piston What programs does Soldier For Life suggest to veterans looking for career transition beyond TAP? Are there any programs available through private organizations to help veterans transfer their military skills in to civilian skills?
Soldier For Life Dan- thanks for the great question. Yes, there a numerous programs at the local and national level while we don’t have visibility on all of the local resources. Here is a list to jump start your search from a national perspective: @hiringourheroes @afterburner @monster @ajc (american job centers) and the VA’s veteran employment center. #SoldierForLife #SLFTownhall

Stefanie Pidgeon What role does personal readiness play in being a soldier for life?
Soldier For Life Army personal readiness is pinnacle to a successful transition and reintegration, and ultimately for being a “Soldier for Life”! It concerns ensuring Soldiers and their Families are ready and resilient, and personal readiness allows Soldiers to maintain their focus on accomplishing the mission. #SoldierForLife

Joseph Prestigiacomo While I am on transitional leave how can I get approval for my care and that of my family as I travel across the country to my final destination?
Soldier For Life You can call the Nurse Advice Line (NAL) to ensure they direct you to the nearest emergency department of urgent care clinic. It is important that you contact NAL for approval to avoid future billing statements The Nurse Advice Line is manned by a team of registered nurses — available 24 hours a day, seven days a week — prepared to answer questions about a variety of acute health care concerns. A nurse will help beneficiaries decide whether self-care or seeing a health care provider is the better option. To contact the Nurse Advice Line, call 1-800-TRICARE (1-800-874-2273) and select Option 1 for help with urgent care questions and needs.

Becky Farmer How is trust cultivated and maintained as part of the Soldier for Life military lifecycle?
Soldier For Life Becky, SFL mind-set is working towards Soldiers building a career both inside and outside the Military. We cultivate trust throughout the Soldier Lifecycle by providing Soldiers with career readiness skills and returning them to their communities more skilled, better trained and instilled with the Army Values- an ambassador in the community. #SoldierForLife

Nick Zevely What kinds of resources does Soldier for Life provide for Veterans who want to continue serving after the military?
Soldier For Life Nick- Great question. You can continue military service through the National Guard or Reserves, they are always looking for great Soldiers like you. Look for volunteer opportunities in your local community. Some organizations you might want to check out are Mission Continues and Team RBW #SoldierForLife #SFLTownhall

Kayla Balensiefer How does a company start a Veterans hiring initiative?
Soldier For Life The SFL Employer Resource Packet is what we send to employers seeking to start their Veteran hiring initiatives. The packet lists and explains the included attachments such as points of contact for installation Transition Service Managers and SFL’s government partners contact information, guidance for credentialing and Career Skills Programs, examples on how to promote your Veteran hiring initiatives and programs along with other relevant literature to the Veteran hiring landscape. #SoldierForLife

Tyler Balensiefer It doesn’t seem like there are too many organizations out there for vets to take advantage of. How many service organizations are there?
Soldier For Life Tyler- There are approximately 46K Veteran Service Organizations and Military Service Organizations. Some are large national organizations and many are smaller grass-root organizations. While a large number of organizations they work to cover the broad range of issues facing todays veterans. #SoldierForLife
Tyler Balensiefer I’ll check out your site, thanks.

Susan Kendall Are Retirees eligible for AER assistance?
Soldier For Life Yes. Susan, Retired Soldiers are eligible for AER assistance! Visit http://www.aerhq.org/dnn563/

Sean Heath How can Master Resilience Trainers assist Soldiers and thier Families who are transitioning to civilian life?
Soldier For Life Master Resilience Trainers (MRT’s) fall under the Comprehensive Soldier Family Fitness (CSF2) Program. Their focus is on the resiliency of Soldiers and Families. Resilience continues to play a major part of health and wellness in Soldiers and Families during transition and reintegration.

Army National Guard Health Hello from Guard Your Health! Have you seen that maintaining health and fitness plays a role during transition?
Soldier For Life Your health is your most important asset! Health provides a sense of well-being and the ability to enjoy your lifestyle not only during active duty but also after you transition. Your health is your most important asset and you can do everything in your power to protect it and make it last. It also saves insurance money for preventable conditions you can control with healthy habits. Check out this webpage for some great information: http://www.guardyourhealth.com/guard-life/reintegration/

Paige Thompson I keep hearing about trucking at job fairs and on Facebook ads. Is that a viable career (NOT just a job) for Vets?
Soldier For Life Paige- Great question. Transportation is a growth industry with over 100K openings each year. Recommend you look at www.truckingtrack.org or www.fastport.com for more information.
Paige Thompson Thanks! I’ll check it out.

Jack Veljkovic Barry I am a recently separated Army officer and have only found a $15/HR job working with a non profit. How can I better my income with Soldier for Life programs?
Soldier For Life Jack Veljkovic Barry, as a recently separated Veteran you will receive “Gold Card Service” from your local American Job Centers, also known as “Workforce Development Boards.” Also recommend you visit your local SFL TAP offices. They both assist with resume writing and targeted job searching.

Richard Lambert Speaking of retirement, I currently have a dental plan through work, but still have expensive co-pays when I go to the dentist. Do you know if I can enroll in the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program and use that program in addition to my work plan? If so, is there an open enrollment season?
Soldier For Life Thanks for your question. Check out the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP). Depending upon the type of dental services provided, having dual coverage can often mean that you will incur little or no out-of-pocket expenses. Go to www.trdp.org/retirees/enroll-today.html for more information. For those of you who are not military retirees, but are Veterans enrolled in VA Healthcare, check out information on the VA Dental Insurance Program: www.deltadentalvadip.org

Bill Johnson I love the idea of Soldier for life, but can’t help but feel its only words. I recently retired and now have zero access to AKO and other websites that help make me feel like I would be a Soldier for life. Is there anyway to keep the access to these websites?
Soldier For Life Bill: The Army had to close AKO to those without a CAC for security reasons. Please visit us on Soldier for Life at https://soldierforlife.army.mil/retirement to stay connected. There you will find the Army Echoes blog and links to other resources to stay connected. You will also need a DS log on to access your personnel, medical, and VA files on line. Request access to DS Logon at https://myaccess.dmdc.osd.mil/identitymanagement/

Bill Johnson Thank you for the quick reply, but I have access to the links that you are referring to. It is not the same as having a CAC card and logging into AKO. I guess my question should be Is there any thought to allowing retirees to have CAC cards? I don’t think every retiree would want access, but to be a Soldier for life I think this would send the right message.
Soldier For Life Bill, Thanks for the question. The Army and DoD have examined this issue extensively and determined that it is not feasible to issue CAC cards to this large and very dispersed population at this time. However, we’ve been building the SFL website to provide you more information and resources, so you can stay connected to the Army Family, like the new Army White Pages. Also, DS Logon will allow you to access your personal information online without a CAC.

Michel Buterbaugh What resilience and performance skills can soldiers utilize when beginning to think about transition?
Soldier For Life Soldiers have many hard and “soft skills” that they take from their experience on active duty to their transition and reintegration. These include, but are not limited to, knowledge about the importance of health and wellness, proficiency learned by working in a certain MOS, as well as the ability to function on a team, lead, mentor, and solve problems. These skills and resiliency components make Veterans exceptional assets to the civilian community!

Jane Kim How long does it take an officer to retire nowadays?
Soldier For Life Thanks for the question. An officer must request retirement at least nine months before their requested retirement date. The maximum is 12 months. The minimum number of years for a length of service retirement is still 20 years.

Dan Piston What is a program or example that best demonstrates the mission of Soldier For Life and the type of work you participate in?
Soldier For Life Dan- #SoldierForLife focuses on health, education, and employment resources and opportunities. Our mission also focuses on “Once a Soldier, Always a Soldier, Soldier for Life!” This mindset reminds us that we continue to serve in our communities after our service obligation.

Theresa Lynch What key points should Veteran Service Officers in NGO Veterans Service Organizations like the Disabled American Veterans know about Soldier for Life?
Soldier For Life Theresa, #SoldierForLife collaborates directly with Army programs and MSO’s (Military Service Organizations)/VSO’s (Veteran Service Organizations) to provide services to Soldiers, Veterans and families throughout the Soldier Lifecycle and after transition to civilian status.

Jamie Boyle What other organizations does SFL partner with?
Soldier For Life Jamie-thanks for the question. SFL works with lots of great organizations however we don’t officially partner with any organizations which allows us to inform about all of the great resources out there for our veterans and their families. #SoldierForLife #SFLTownhall
Jamie Boyle Thank you, Colonel Rocke and Company.

Daniel Young How can a Soldier continue to serve after transitioning back to civilian life?
Soldier For Life The Army needs you to continue to stay connected! You are a #SoldierforLife. Please tell your Army story to your neighbors, friends, and coworkers. You can also mentor other Veterans who move to your area and online in forums like Linked In and Rally Point..

Daniel Young What is a Career Skills Program?
Soldier For Life A Career Skills Program (CSP) assists transitioning Soldiers gain a skill to make them “career ready” when they separate active service. Soldiers participate in a CSPs during their last 180 days of active service at their place of duty. CSPs can include job training, employment skills training, apprenticeship, or internships. There are currently pilot programs established on 19 installations. CSPs lead to direct employment opportunities. Ask your installation Education Services Officers if there is a CSP program at your installation.

Daniel Young Are there internships that Veterans can take advantage of when they transition into civilian life?
Soldier For Life Thanks for your question! Yes, there are some great programs in Chicago that will pay for Veterans to learn skills in the manufacturing industry, power and gas and transportation and find job placement upon graduation. These programs are free to Veterans.

Jamie Boyle Thank you #SoldierforLife for taking the time to respond to questions!

IAm Ann Is it accurate that if a involuntary separated soldier accepts a separation pay, they would have to pay it back if they decide to join the reserves and retire as a reservist? Also, can you collect the separation pay and still get disability payments?
Soldier For Life Yes, that is correct. For more information seehttp://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/plan/separation-payments.html. Yes. You may receive VA disability compensation (see http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/) even if you receive separation pay.

Drew McMahon: was anything ever answered about making tricare an option for National Guard soldiers, a direct deposit from drill check type payment instead of completely being on your own to find it and purchase it then getting 12 suspension if a payment is missed?
Soldier For Life: After the first premium payment, a Soldier must pay premiums by automatic payment. A Soldier can set up an electronic funds transfer or use a debit or credit card. Depending on the Soldiers geographical location they can also pay online to one of the TRICARE regions. Electronic funds transfer would mitigate lapse in coverage or suspension notices. Here is more information: http://www.tricare.mil/Costs/PayFees/TRSPremiums.aspx

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Soldier for Life Facebook Townhall: All Questions and Answers