Transition to civilian life

Last updated: 
12 December 2019

A return to civilian life brings big changes. Just like any changes in your military life, the more you prepare, the smoother things will go. We work with Defence to help you prepare. And you can start to plan your new life while you still serve.

Plan for civilian life

Before you transition out of Defence, it is a good idea to plan for your new life.

Talk with a Veteran Support Officer (VSO)

A VSO is an on-base adviser who will:

  • tell you about the support that we offer
  • help you to apply for benefits and services
  • offer advice to you and your family about moving back into civilian life
  • teach you how to use MyService and other online services

VSOs used to be national On-Base Advisors (OBAS). 

Our VSO page has more information about the support they offer, and it will tell you how to contact them.

Register with MyService

We are moving away from paper claims. MyService will make it faster and easier for you to:

  • lodge and manage your claims
  • update your contact details
  • view your Veteran Card
  • check the conditions that we have accepted
  • see your past and future payments

You can register with MyService as soon as you enlist. If you have served 1 day of full-time service, you can use MyService to apply for:

Attend Stepping Out

Stepping Out is a free program that we offer to all members and their families. You and your family can attend Stepping Out before you discharge or within 12 months of when you left.

The program runs for 2 days, and it will:

  • help you to plan for life after the Australian Defence Force (ADF)
  • teach you techniques to stay motivated
  • teach you the skills to adapt to civilian life
  • offer relationship guidance and support
  • help you find mental and physical support services

To learn more about Stepping Out, contact Open Arms - Veterans & Family Counselling.

Visit the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program website

You and your family can use the information on the Veterans Employment website to:

  • plan your transition into civilian life
  • get employers to recognise your skills
  • learn about the culture of civilian workplaces
  • find work that matches your skills and interests
  • find companies that employ veterans

Manage your health and wellbeing

Leaving the ADF can have a significant impact on your physical and emotional health. You can access the services and support we offer while are you serving and after you transition out.

Get your free health check

If you served at least 1 day of full-time service you can access a free Veteran Health Check

You can get 1 free health check from your general practitioner (GP) if you left the forces before 1 July 2019. You can get this any time after you leave.

If you left the forces on or after 1 July 2019, you can access 1 free check each year for 5 years after you leave.

Access free mental health support

Under Non-Liability Health Care, we will pay for a mental health professional to treat you for any mental health condition. The condition does not have to be related to your service.

You will qualify if you have:

  • undertaken continuous full-time service
  • performed certain types of reserve service

Our page on free mental health care for veterans has more information about this.

Contact Open Arms

Open Arms is a counselling service for veterans and their families. The help line is open 24 hours. You can access:

  • articles about mental and physical wellbeing
  • small group programs
  • lifestyle and education workshops
  • tips and training to prevent suicide
  • support from a network of peers
  • free and confidential counselling

You can visit the website or call them on 1800 011 046.

Sort your benefits

Depending on your age and service, you could be eligible for a range of payment and benefits. We offer:

  • regular pension payments
  • extra allowances to top up your income
  • to pay for health services 
  • support to help you in and around your home

Submit a claim

If your service was the cause of any health condition, you should submit a claim as soon as possible.

Finding out if we cover your conditions will make it easier and faster for you to get the help you need.

You can submit a claim:

You do not have to wait for us to approve your claim before you can get help.

If your claim was for a mental health condition, you might qualify to receive the Veteran Payment.

If your claim was for at least 1 of these conditions, we will pay for a professional to treat you.

Access rehabilitation services

If we accept your claim, you will be able to access rehabilitation services. We will tailor these services to your needs.

Under rehabilitation services we can help you to:

  • get medical equipment for your home and office
  • look for work
  • manage your medical appointments
  • find a local support group

Before you move to civilian life, it is a good idea to think about the services and support that you might want or need. Our page on rehabilitation has more information about these services.

Get financial support

While you are waiting for us to accept your claim, you might be able to access the Veteran Payment.

The Veteran Payment provides short-term financial support to:

  • people who have lodged a claim for a mental health condition
  • partners of people who have lodged a claim for a mental health condition

Other help

You can get help from ex-service organisations (ESOs). These are companies that can help you to:

  • lodge your claims with us
  • find an advocate
  • prepare for the civilian workforce
  • connect with other former serving members and their families

Our page on ESOs has a list of these organisations.

Information on the Defence Website can also help you to make the move.

Partnership with Defence

Defence is responsible for providing care and support to serving members.

We are responsible for providing care and support to:

  • war-widowed partners
  • dependents of former serving members
  • former serving members who are sick or injured

We are also responsible for payments and benefits to eligible serving members

DVA and Defence agreed in 2013 to share these roles as we work together to support you and your family.

What Defence tells us

Defence will tell us when a member:

  • passes away during service
  • is seriously wounded or injured in service
  • discharges on medical or administrative grounds
  • starts the transition to civilian life
  • transitions from the ADF

How we reach out to you will depend on the situation. For example, if you are seriously wounded or injured, a DVA officer will contact you. When you start the process to leave the ADF, we will send you a letter or email with the services that you may receive.

Early Engagement Model

Defence and DVA have created an Early Engagement Model (EEM). The EEM helps us to reach out to ADF members while they are still serving.

It allows us to offer you support and services from the time you enlist.

The EEM will reduce the time it takes for us to process your claims.