The persistence to overcome transition issues with the support of others

This is a story about Nathan, a sailor, and the journey he took to get his DD Form 214.

And, it’s also a story about how Nathan’s Mastermind group, the Military Transition Roundtable, helped him get this form after his discharge from the Navy.

First, for those who don’t have U.S. military family or friends, let me explain why the DD Form 214 is significant.

The DD Form 214 is an important document for veterans because it provides a complete summary of their military service. It includes information such as the veteran’s name, rank, branch of service, dates of service, awards, and decorations, and type of discharge. The DD Form 214 is used to verify a veteran’s military service for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Applying for veterans benefits, such as VA disability compensation, home loans, and education benefits.
  • Getting a job, as many employers prefer to hire veterans.
  • Joining veterans organizations.
  • Obtaining a passport.
  • Renewing a driver’s license.
  • Determining eligibility for burial in a national cemetery.

Nathan needed the form to apply for his VA disability with an accredited veterans services officer in Arizona.


When the psychiatrist assigned to the USS Harry S. Truman diagnosed that Nathan had depression issues, he was told he could no longer serve in the ship’s nuclear engineering department.

The military believes that depression will impact those who work around nuclear devices for a number of reasons. These reasons include:

  • The stress of working around nuclear devices can be overwhelming.
  • The knowledge that sailors like Nathan are working with a a nuclear-powered device can be anxiety-provoking.
  • The fear of being exposed to radiation or being involved in a nuclear accident can be debilitating for some military professionals..
  • The isolation of working in a remote location can lead to loneliness and depression.
  • The stigma associated with mental health problems can prevent people from seeking help.

Nathan's diagnosis came as the Navy carrier was getting ready to deploy for another tour in the Middle East.

Just seven days before the Truman deployed, Nathan was given a discharge and a ticket home to Ohio. In other military services, military professionals are given a physical evaluation board. Nathan was not given this option.

Had he served in another military branch like the Army or Air Force, the physical evaluation board would work with the VA to get him a disability rating.

The DD Form 214 acts as the key element to any VA claims. The Navy has had some issues with providing these forms to sailors.

There are a number of reasons why the Navy may fail to provide discharge papers to its sailors. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Administrative errors: The Navy is a large organization, and it is possible for mistakes to be made when processing discharge paperwork. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as human error, computer glitches, or lost paperwork.
  • Complex discharge procedures: The Navy has a complex set of discharge procedures, and it can be difficult for sailors like Nathan to understand the process.
  • Lack of communication: The Navy does not always communicate effectively with sailors about the discharge process. This can lead to sailors being unaware of the steps they need to take to get their discharge paperwork processed.
  • Bureaucracy: The Navy is a bureaucratic organization, and it can be difficult to get things done quickly. This can lead to delays in the processing of discharge paperwork. One other Navy MTR member, a sailor named Mike told me he had to badger other chiefs and influencers to get his DD Form 214 as his retirement approached last year.

Nathan’s mother encouraged him to join the Military Transition Roundtable over a year ago. It took Nathan some time to get the confidence to share his story with others who are facing transition issues.

Several months ago, Nathan told his story about his discharge and the issues he faced.

His fellow military professionals helped him recognize the need to get the form and also gave advice on how to get his form. For Nathan, a visit to his Ohio veterans commission got him the form he needed.

The military won’t publicly admit it, but a ton of red tape plays a significant barrier in any discharge, separation, or retirement. Many military professionals in our group helped others recognize the issues, the delays associated with them, and the way to work through the bureaucracy.

For those who served, transition never ends. A Mastermind group or other forms of support can help people adjust to their new roles.

Sadly, not everyone makes it.

For some, transition puts them into homeless situations because they didn’t get the info on their VA benefits or the claims process. Veterans today have a wide variety of options not only for training in new jobs but the mental health services they need for PTSD and TBI injury.

At the Military Transition Roundtable, we are one of the many non-profits that support people like Nathan to capitalize on their VA benefits and post-service opportunities.

If you know of a veteran who is facing transition issues, please let me know.

(As president of the Military Transition Roundtable, I work with others to help veterans find the resources to deal with the stressors of their exodus from military service.)

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