By Jon King /

Livingston County voice in Congress has co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that seeks to help military members adjust back into civilian life.

On Thursday, 8th District Democrat Elissa Slotkin, along with Ohio Republican Congressman David Joyce, introduced the bipartisan Solid Start Act, a bill to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs proactively reaches out to service members in their first year transitioning back to civilian life to connect them with critical benefits and services they have earned.

According to a press release, the bill would make permanent a pilot program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in which the VA contacts veterans multiple times by phone in the first year after they leave service to check-in and help connect them to programs and benefits. Slotkin, who also spearheaded the bill in a previous congressional session, says the Solid Start program “continues to be an important asset to veterans just as they leave the military and are transitioning back to civilian life.”

She called it “shocking…the sheer number of veterans across Mid-Michigan who simply aren’t aware of the services and benefits available to set them up for a successful transition.“ Slotkin added that a military spouse and step-mom, and as someone who served alongside U.S. forces in Iraq, she knows how tough that adjustment can be, and that it “shouldn’t be up to brand new veterans to navigate the bureaucracy at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) right as they’re trying to settle into civilian life.” Slotkin says the bill would codify the Solid Start program to make it permanent and ensures the VA continues to improve upon the program by authorizing sufficient funds to support it.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, of which Slotkin is a member.