4 Tips Every Veteran in Your Life Should Know

There are more than 18.2 million veterans living in the U.S. today. But navigating life after military service is far from routine. From finding a civilian career to getting health insurance, there are a lot of hurdles that veterans have to get past.

If you have a veteran in your life who has recently left the military, keep reading for four essential tips they should know.

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Take Advantage of the G.I. Bill at Any Age

The G.I. Bill originally helped veterans returning from World War II by establishing hospitals, providing low-interest mortgages and by offering stipends for continuing education. The goal of the education stipend was to help ex-soldiers lead successful lives after they were finished serving, by going back to school to learn a new trade or earn a degree.

The G.I. Bill continues to provide stipends for tuition, books and even housing allowances for veterans. While the Bill is often used by young adults, the reality is that anyone can take advantage of this benefit of your time served. You don’t even need to have plans to change careers; you could use your stipend to attend night classes to learn a new skill and further your current career. If you plan to continue working while earning your degree, a remote learning program might be a great way to take advantage of your G.I. Bill benefit.

Enroll With the VA’s Healthcare System

This is one tip that many veterans put off until something bad happens. Even if you’re healthy, it’s important to get enrolled in the VA healthcare system. To get your healthcare benefits, you’ll need to not only register with your nearest center, but also get a physical, blood work and perform a drug test.

After your first visit, you’ll need to continue to visit once a year, even if you’re healthy. If you fall behind on your annual visits, you might have to re-register. But keeping up to date is a great way to be prepared in case you do get injured or fall ill.

Get Your Finances in Order

When you’re in the military, many aspects of your finances are easier to handle. If you live on base or have a living stipend, you don’t need to deal with rent. Your health insurance is covered. Often, even a portion of your meals is provided.

That’s why it’s a good idea to take the time to get your finances in order as soon as your service comes to an end. This is also a great time to look into benefits available to active and retired servicemen and women. For instance, USAA offers a variety of credit cards and rewards cards tailored to veterans and military members. From cash back to rewards points, these cards are a great way to make the most of your money so that you can start saving for your future.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Researchers believe that 20 percent of all veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. But because of the stigma that continues to be attached to mental illness, that number could actually be much higher.

Whether you’ve recently returned from serving or have been retired from the military for years, the most important thing you can do is seek help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family or to the VA if you feel that your mental health is suffering.

Making the Most of Your Veterans Benefits

Taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, enrolling in the VA healthcare system, getting your finances in order and asking for help when you need it are all important steps to take when your time in the military comes to an end. Taking them one at a time will help you start civilian life off on the right foot, and set you up for future success as a veteran.

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