Some of us had a hard time when we left the military. The civilian world is a different place, and we probably could have used some help. The Department of Veterans Affairs has hooked up with the Department of Defense and Homeland Security in a program called VA Solid Start. They intend to contact 200,000 of us three times during the first year we’re out.

Too many of us struggle with mental health concerns that first year, and newly separated veterans have a suicide rate that’s twice the overall veteran suicide rates. That first year they’ll either call or email to make sure we know about the mental health resources we all get — for a year, for free — no matter your type of discharge.

The call, when it comes, isn’t only about mental health care. Whether it’s medical, buying a home or anything else, the person who calls will be able to point you in the right direction. (Be sure the VA has your current contact info.)

You don’t have to wait for a call, whether you’re newly separated or have been out for a very long time. Go online and download a Welcome Kit ( It’s 26 pages of good benefit info.

If you’re struggling with any mental health problems, or even having a problem adjusting to being a civilian, go to any VA medical center or vet center clinic, or call 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387) during business hours. The crisis line, however, is always open. Call 800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255 or chat online at

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