Have you or someone you love ever serve in the United States military? Are you the spouse widow, or widower of a former service member? If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions you may be eligible for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
There are several programs through the VA that many veterans and family members are unaware of or have received incorrect information about. This brief article will provide a clear look into what veterans and their eligible family members have earned and are entitled to.
First, let us define who is considered a veteran. If you or a loved one enlisted or was commissioned into any of the 5 recognized branches of the Armed Forces and fulfilled their obligation of service honorably then you or your loved one is a veteran. Now that we’ve established who a veteran is, what types of benefit programs are there for eligible veterans? Well there are three main categories; Veteran Heath care, Veterans Benefits, National Cemetery (burial). Veterans Health care is most commonly known, this is any care a veteran or family member receives at a VA Medical Center, eligibility for health care depends on income and service connection. If the veteran does not have a service connected rating of at least 0% for any one condition then the VA will base your enrollment into the VA health care system on your annual income, unfortunately if your earned income is over the allowable limit you may be ineligible for VA health care. To receive a service connected rating the veteran will have to file a claim for service connected issues to obtain veterans benefits, you can do this by contacting you local County Veteran Services Officer or any other veteran service organization, (VFW, DAV, PVA, American Legion, e-benefits, etc). A claim for service connection is not based on income and is a tax free award for injuries and/or conditions that occurred in service, the rating may range from 0% to 100% depending on the severity for the issue/s. The veteran may apply for multiple issues that occurred in service to include PTSD, hearing loss, and exposure to chemicals or contaminated water.
The third type of benefit is burial. If a veteran wished to be buried at a nationally accredited veteran’s cemetery, like the one we have on D road, then the burial is expense free. The family members may encounter additional costs from transportation or funeral home charges, the family member who pays for the additional charges may apply for a portion of reimbursement for those charges. Again, the family member will have to apply through the Dept. of Veterans Affairs with a service organization or Veteran Services Officer. In addition to the expense free burial, the veteran’s headstone, marker, or medallion, is also cost free.
Keep in mind that the Dept. of Veterans Affairs has multiple programs for veterans and their family member if they are eligible; I have only touched on the three basic areas of veteran benefits. If you or someone you love is or has served in the armed forces and has questions about benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs please consider contacting the following sites.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Brian Oney (Mesa County Veteran Services Officer). He is located at the Mesa County Workforce Center and can be reached by phone at (970) 248-2733, or by email at, firstname.lastname@example.org