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My Coast Guard
Commentary | April 21, 2021

Planning your separation or retirement

By Keisha Reynolds, MyCG Writer

Your military separation from the Coast Guard—whether retiring from a 25-year career or separating after a four-year enlistment—can be among the most stressful and anxiety-provoking events in a member’s profession. This week’s Wellness Wednesday will cover the process for completing the necessary paperwork for your separation and claiming your benefits. Join Lt. Cmdr. Ian W. Marks, a medical officer from the Health, Safety and Work-Life Service Center, and Military Service Coordinator Kyle James, from the Veterans Benefits Administration, Oakland Regional Office, as they answer questions and provide helpful hints. The discussion will be held on April 21, 2021 on CVR Teams at 3 p.m. EDT. 

Marks will discuss what he describes as the “first-phase” in the separation process outlining what Coast Guard members need to do to begin preparing. “Transitioning from active duty service to civilian life is pretty stressful. I am going to talk about how to prepare to claim your veteran benefits, when you need to start getting together your medical records in a format usable to the VA, your separation physical, and what responsibilities you have left to the Coast Guard before leaving,” said Marks. 

James will cover the next phase in the process which covers the transition period from active duty through post separation. Specifically, he will review the steps for completing the Separation Health Assessment (SHA) through Veteran Affairs or the Separation Health Physical Exam (SHPE) through your local military clinic. And, he will also discuss how to submit your VA claim via the Benefits Delivered on Discharge (BDD) program.

James has first-hand experience with the journey separating members will take as a retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant with a 23-year career. “When I retired from active duty, before the BDD program existed, I didn’t receive my rating decision until nine months post separation. I wasn’t able to collect my VBA compensation, apply for VA Programs, and enroll my children into free college education,” he said. “With the BDD Program, we want our transitioning service members to be setup for success and get them to apply between 90 to 180 days prior to separation.”

Marks summarized the overall intention for the session. “Ultimately, the goal is reduce the stress associated with transitioning from active duty to reserve or retired life by educating our members so that we can enable benefits to be delivered in faster more efficient way,” he said. “It’s a big change in their life. Anything we can do to make it easier we will.”

You can find more information about the BDD process and filing a claim here, or you can reach the VA’s benefits hotline at 1-800-827-1000.

To access today's discussion please use this link for CVR access from your Coast Guard computer, personal computer or mobile device. Even if you do not have a account, you can still watch the stream via the link above. If you wish to maintain anonymity, log out of your normal (USCG/DOD) CVR account and join as a guest. You may also call (571) 388-3904; Conference ID 453 387 852#. 

E-mail any questions or suggestions you have for Wellness Wednesday. 

If you would like to see previous Wellness Wednesday recordings, they are available on the CG-11 CG Portal webpage.