If you don’t like to ask for help, you’re not alone. Most veterans don’t. That’s part of your training. But when you’re starting over, give yourself permission to ask for help. You have several kinds of support available, including employment counseling, applying for benefits, finding treatment, clothing, help with ID, laundry/showers, and, sometimes, housing.
Don’t count on one place to be able to do everything. Best advice is to get your iron out everywhere. Some resources are very tight, such as housing, and some services focus on veterans without criminal histories. If you’re not getting help from one resource, try another. Start local. For example, your closest workforce center or department of human services may have a veteran specialist with a network of local resources.
The Office of Behavioral Health recently produced a video on resources for veterans. Click on the button below to see how someone in Denver County Jail learns about getting help.
VA Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255
If you're hitting a crisis point in your life, you can call the number above and an operator will connect you to help. For example, if you want counseling help and your next appointment isn't for three weeks but you need help now, call the Crisis Line. The operator may be able to get you into a social worker at the closest Vet Center or other resource right away.
Homeless Veteran Hotline 1-877-424-3838
When you call this hotline, the operator will take down your contact info and refer you to a homeless coordinator at the closest VA Medical Center to you. You should get a call from this person within a day or two.
The dishonorable discharge is the only military discharge that’s likely to keep you from getting veteran specific services. If you have a dishonorable discharge and they can’t give you veteran specific services, you can still ask for information about community resources. If you have anything other than a dishonorable discharge, you may still be eligible for some services, depending upon the agency.
If you have less than an honorable discharge and been told you’re not eligible for veterans services, this may not be true. (Some people were given incorrect information in the past.)
If you think your discharge level was improper or unfair, you can request an upgrade. A County Veterans Services Office (see below) should be able to help you fill out and send in this form. While it’s difficult to upgrade a discharge, it’s possible, especially if you think there were mitigating circumstances.
You should also know there is some risk involved in requesting an upgrade. Some people had their discharge character downgraded during this process. Weigh the circumstances of your discharge before making this request.