Guest blog by Justin Miller, Pathfinder's Program Manager
Transitioning from military to civilian life is a distinct challenge faced by our nation’s service members and their families. While there are many impressive organizations that provide services for transitioning military, two-thirds of service members are not effectively connecting with these resources. In 2017, USO launched the USO Pathfinder Program nationally to help service members and their families navigate the challenges of transitioning over a 24-month period.
The hallmark of the USO Pathfinder Program is a comprehensive support network that includes access to a Pathfinder Scout, a trained case manager who works directly with the transitioning families and connects them to the services and support they need. The USO Pathfinder Program focuses on connecting them to eight key areas of service, including employment, education, financial readiness, housing and family strength and wellness. In addition, participants have access to the USO Mobile App, which provides resources and access to a Scout in real time. The App allows program participants to view their customized selection of services and resources 24/7 and create their own transition roadmap all on their smart phone.
In Illinois, the USO Pathfinder Program is unique due to the large population of National Guard and Reserve service members and their spouses who are in a constant state of transition. More than 70% of military deployed since 9/11 are National Guard and Reserve, and USO of Illinois is working to ensure Guard, Reserve and their families have access to the Pathfinder Program throughout the state. This month will mark the largest deployment from Illinois in a decade with more than 350 Guard members called up to be deployed.
“The USO is a trusted presence for our military, supporting them from boot camp to deployment to separation for nearly 80 years,” said Justin Miller, USO Transition Program Manager. “USO Pathfinder works to reduce the friction of transitioning and help streamline the process of reintegrating into civilian life.”
Service members and their families can learn about the USO Pathfinder Program online, at any USO Center or Program throughout Illinois. Service members and their spouses can also access services by calling 312-777-3333 or going to www.uso.org/pathfinder.