On December 5-6, 2017, members of Georgia’s Returning Veterans Task Force (RVTF), joined by State Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, of Marietta (SD-32), stepped onto Fort Benning to learn about the challenges service members transitioning out of the military face today.

The Fort Benning Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program hosted the RVTF for their extended two day meeting.

“Understanding the challenges that these young men and women face as they get ready to leave military service is critical information for all agencies on the task force,” said GDVS Commissioner Mike Roby.

Tuesday, December 5 began at the Soldier for Life Center with a presentation about Fort Benning’s Department of Defense directed Transition Assistance Program which includes Career Skills and Continuing Education Programs. RVTF members were then taken to the two-year old Martin Army Community Hospital and given first hand tours of its state of the art heat related emergency and physical therapy units.

“I’m not a veteran, but my whole family are veterans,” said Senator Kirkpatrick, a medical doctor and freshman member of the (GA) Senate’s Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee. “My dad’s a WWII veteran, my brother’s a Vietnam veteran. My other brother is Desert Storm. So, I really do care what happens to veterans when they’re in the military and when they leave the military, and I want to learn more about that.”

The RVTF also visited the installation’s busy parachute rigging warehouse to witness first-hand the details of packing a chute from start to finish. Several agency members were rigged up and fitted with parachutes for full immersion into the daily activity of some service members. The afternoon agenda involved visits and briefings at the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Abrams Tank training and simulation facilities.

The RVTF’s quarterly meeting was held on Wednesday, December 6, which included discussion of a video campaign being developed and produced by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. The video is aimed to help convince discharging (from active duty) service members to call Georgia “home.” The RVTF also agreed to the need for a user friendly website with a homepage displaying information about all state government services and entitlements available to service members, veterans, and their families.

“We want to ensure that we provide a media platform that easily explains all of the excellent state government services and benefits available to all service members, veterans, and their families at every stage of their lives,” Commissioner Roby emphasized to the RVTF members in attendance.

The two-day Fort Benning visit concluded at the SFL Center with RVTF members participating in the TAP’s “Weekly Connection” event – a public benefits and services information fair for discharging service members and their families.

The Returning Veterans Task Force was created in 2013 by Governor Nathan Deal. The RVTF is an intra-state task force that investigates how state agencies can coordinate services to better assist service members discharged under conditions other than dishonorable from active duty back into society.

The RVTF is composed of 12 member agencies and organizations. The Georgia Department of Veterans Service coordinates the group’s quarterly meetings.

Learn more about the RVTF and its member agencies at https://veterans.georgia.gov/rvtf.

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For more information on the content of this news release, please contact the GDVS Public Information Division at 404-656-5933 or gavetsvc@vs.state.ga.us.