The Next Stage — Making the change to civilian life


Planning your transition

Veteran Support Officers

A Veteran Support Officer is an adviser who can help you work out what benefits you can get. They are available to offer you support and guidance, and they can help you to submit a claim before you leave the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Stepping Out

Making the transition from military to civilian life can be a big change for you and your family. Stepping Out is a free, two-day program for all ADF members, and their partners, who are discharging from the ADF, or have discharged in the last 12 months.

The program focuses on transition skills including:

  • planning

  • motivation and adaption techniques

  • expectation and attitude management

  • maintaining relationships

  • learning where to seek professional support.

Visit Open Arms or call 1800 011 046.

Health services

Treatment for mental health conditions, whatever the cause

We pay for treatment for any mental health condition whatever the cause (related to service or not) and with no need for a compensation claim.

Anyone who has been a member of the permanent ADF or has a period of continuous full-time service, even for as little as one day, is eligible for the treatment of any mental health condition.  It doesn’t matter when you served, how long you served, or the nature of your service.

Veteran Health Checks

After you transition to civilian life, you can have a comprehensive health check with your general practitioner (GP). A Veteran Health Check is a comprehensive health assessment with your GP to help you better understand and optimise your health and wellbeing. It provides an opportunity to access early intervention care and appropriate referrals when you need it.

Who can receive it?

One-off Veteran Health Check

You are eligible for the One-off Veteran Health Check if you:

  • are a former member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), including reservists, with at least one day of continuous full-time service (CFTS)
  • transitioned out of the ADF at any time.
Annual Veteran Health Check

You are eligible for the Annual Veteran Health Check if you:

  • are a former member of the ADF, including reservists, with at least one day of continuous full-time service (CFTS)
  • transitioned out of the ADF from 1 July 2019.

For further information, please search "Veteran Health Check" on

Rehabilitation and compensation

Making a claim

If you have any health conditions you believe may have been caused by your service — from minor to serious injuries or illnesses — you should lodge a claim as soon as possible.

Even if you don’t need help now, finding out if your conditions are covered will make it faster and easier for you to access help in the future.

You can check your eligibility for compensation through the Entitlements Self Assessment wizard, and submit a claim through a DVA office or by registering online through the DVA website.

It is also a good idea to get copies of your medical records before you discharge to speed up your claim.

Rehabilitation support and services

An accepted claim with us entitles you to a tailored rehabilitation plan to get you back on your feet. Your plan may include support for securing civilian employment, managing your treatment and health conditions more effectively, and overcoming any barriers to building a new life outside the ADF.

Visit Rehabilitation

Invalidity benefit

If you are medically discharged from the ADF, you may also be able to access an invalidity benefit under military superannuation arrangements from the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation.

Visit Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation

Qualifying Service

Certain operational service is also considered qualifying service, giving eligibility for a Gold Veteran Card to cover all your health care services from age 70. Qualifying Service also gives you early access to the aged pension, and means that you may be eligible for Defence and DVA housing assistance schemes, to assist you in buying a house or getting insurance.

To find out more talk to a VSO

Help to buy a home

Leaving the ADF changes your Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme entitlement and may mean moving out of your Defence rental property or giving up rental assistance. Depending on your qualifying period of service and when you discharged from the ADF, you may be eligible for subsidised housing loans, home support loans and associated insurances.

Visit Loans and insurance and Separation, medical/ death, surviving partners

Mental health

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling (formerly VVCS)

Open Arms is a national mental health service that provides 24-hour, free and confidential, individual and family counselling, as well a group programs and suicide prevention training for current and ex-serving ADF members, and their family.

The Open Arms website also offers suite of websites, apps and YouTube videos that offer self-help tools and advice about mental health and wellbeing for ex-service members and their families

Transitioning personnel and their families should consider taking part in our Stepping Out Program or Life Style Management Program.

To get support or to find out more, call 1800 011 046 or visit Open Arms.

Documents in this publication

Download a copy of the documents below.

Download The Next Stage — Making the change to civilian life