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Margarita Devlin, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits for the Veterans Benefits Administration at the VA, describes how the Solid Start program is helping veterans understand their benefits

The Solid Start program at the Department of Veterans Affairs has reached out to nearly 70,000 veterans who have recently left the military. As the program reaches its one-year mark, Margarita Devlin, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits at the Department of Veterans Affairs joined “Government Matters” to discuss the impact the program has had.

Prior to the creation of Solid Start, Devlin said most of the support offered to veterans came through the Transition Assistance Program before they left the military.

“There really wasn’t anything exclusively focused on getting 100% of the veterans that separate from the military and reaching out to them about all their benefits after separation,” she said.

Devlin said veterans have told her team that while they appreciated the Transition Assistance Program as they were preparing to leave the military, “it was kind of like drinking from a firehose.” She said her goal with this program was to reach out to veterans over the course of a year rather than all at once.

She said the Solid Start program makes three contacts with veterans, spaced out over their first year away from the service.

“We’re learning a lot of things after that first year,” she said. “We’re learning that veterans really do want to take this call.”

Devlin said her team had a target of 15% response to the phone calls, but that in the first year, 56% of veterans have spoken with a Solid Start agent.

She said the program especially seeks to serve veterans who have had a mental health appointment in their last year of service. In the first year, the Solid Start program was able to reach 72% of this group.

“In many cases, they really needed that call,” Devlin said.

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