Michele, Eagle Systems & Services, Inc..
demobilizing at Fort McCoy this month have been surprised to discover
that a new demobilization process model is being used to ensure they
receive fast delivery of earned Veterans affairs (VA) benefits and
other needed help.
3,400 Soldiers assigned to the Washington National Guardís 81st
Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) are demobilizing at Fort McCoy after
an 11-month tour of duty supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Washington Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ) Warrior, Veteran and Family
Service Support Directorate organized a large interagency team and
deployed them to Wisconsin to support their troops before they
Department of Veterans Affairs
External Affairs Manager Rob Hard explains Post 9-11 GI Bill
benefits to a group of 81st Brigade Combat Team Soldiers going
through the demobilization process at Fort McCoy. Unit members
have completed a tour to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
(Photo by Tom Michele)
to team operations director Scott Miller, "this team of about 35
people consists of Washington State, federal, and local Wisconsin
county veterans service officers, employment specialists, education
counselors, health care advisers, transition assistance advisers and
Veterans Center readjustment counseling technicians who are dedicated
to supporting the returning 81st Soldiers regardless of their home of
teamís intent is delivery of benefits and services to the Soldiers
before they return to their home state and become distracted by
transition to civilian life," Miller said. "The teamís
goal is to facilitate the Soldierís rapid and orderly return to
productive drill status by completing these tasks before they leave
team plans to speed the application for VA benefits for health care,
compensation and home loan certificates and provide information about
the new 9-11 GI Bill. In addition to VA benefits, the Washington State
Employment Services Division and the JFHQ Employment Transition
coaches are on site reaching out to the unemployed members of the
brigade to assist them with post-mobilization employment needs.
support and services provided by this interagency team benefit not
only members of the Washington National Guard, but also Guard members
from 26 other states who were attached to the 81st during the
"This team's intent is delivery of benefits and services to
the Soldiers ..."
Team Operations Director
from across the brigade has been overwhelmingly positive. Sgt. Tisoc
Vasquez, a member of Company B, 184th Infantry Battalion from San
Jose, Calif., said, "we really appreciate what you folks are
doing for us at Fort McCoy."
key feature of this process is that the Soldiers of the 81st have
direct access to knowledgeable veterans service officers who can
answer their questions in a personal manner instead of through e-mail,
Web sites or cumbersome 1-800-number phone trees," Miller said.
for this event included a survey of the brigade to determine the
membersí employment status upon return to home station. Miller said
30 percent of the Soldiers indicated they wanted unemployment
counseling, needed assistance finding a job or needed assistance
finding a better job.
more than half of the 81stís Soldiers responded indicating that they
will use the new 9-11 GI Bill to pursue a college degree. As a result
of this response, JFHQ organized a robust employment and education
services team to develop local community relationships with employers
and institutions of higher learning.
bottom line for us here at Fort McCoy is to provide Soldiers with the
services needed for getting jobs and veterans benefits that include
education and health care," Miller said.
interesting aspect of this event is the use of three of the Veterans
Centers new Mobile Vet Center (MVC) motor coaches. These MVCs are
40-foot motor coaches outfitted with satellite radio systems and
Internet capabilities designed to extend VA services to remote
locations. Each state was equipped within the past year with these
vehicles to help ensure that veterans in remote locations can access
Washington Soldierís positive response to this event at Fort McCoy
has generated interest from the Wisconsin National Guard Transition
Badger State crew is working with the Washington group to duplicate
this service delivery model for the 32nd BCTís return home early