In this second part of a two-part series, I will be reminding you of additional benefits generally available to members of the military. Once again, specific program policies are tied to the length of your military service, the circumstances surrounding that period of service, and whether you are still active, in reserve or discharged.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a range of benefits to returning service members and other veterans. The VA website provides detailed information on all of these topics, as well as links to other resources.
Veterans who served in combat since Nov. 11, 1998, are eligible to receive five years of cost-free health for any injury or illness associated with your service. This includes cost-free health care from VA for conditions that are potentially related to service in your theater of operations. You can call the VA Health Benefits Call Center toll free at 1-877-222-8387 to get the latest on VA health care eligibility and enrollment.
Follow these steps to access your health benefits today:
- Identify a VA Medical Center for you to visit.
- Complete VA Form 10-10EZ and submit it.
- Remember to bring your military separation form (DD214) on your first VA Medical Center visit.
- Your regional VA office can help you with completing and filing the right forms.
VA can provide screening exams for depression, substance abuse, PTSD, military sexual trauma, and TBI, to name a few. Full VA health care includes inpatient and outpatient treatment, prescription services, and preventive care. The VA also has limited benefits for ambulance service, eyeglasses and hearing aids, non-VA care, prosthetics, and the purchase of durable medical equipment.
Mental Health Benefits
The VA provides many mental health services and some counseling services as a part of its military benefits program. Available services include:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Management of Depression
- Anxiety, Stress
- Adjustment from Deployment
- Counseling and Medication
- Military Sexual Trauma
- Family and Parenting Issues
- Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Dependence
With the growing numbers of women in the military, and with the recent admission of women into combat roles, the VA has updated its primary care health benefits for women veterans to include:
- General care includes health evaluation and counseling, disease prevention, nutrition counseling, weight control, smoking cessation, and substance abuse treatment as well as gender-specific primary care, e.g., cervical cancer screens (Pap smears), breast cancer screens (mammograms), birth control, menopausal support (hormone replacement therapy).
- Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Special services are available to women who have experienced MST. VA provides free, confidential counseling and treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to MST.
- Mental health includes evaluation and assistance for issues such as depression, mood, and anxiety disorders; intimate partner and domestic violence; elder abuse or neglect; parenting and anger management; and marital, caregiver, or family-related stress
In addition to its primary care services, the VA provides specialty care health benefits for Women Veterans that includes:
- Management and screening of chronic conditions include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, glandular disorders, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
- Reproductive health care includes maternity care, infertility evaluation and limited treatment; urinary incontinence, and others.
- Rehabilitation, homebound, and long-term care, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, exercise therapy, recreational therapy, and vocational therapy.
The VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program helps active-duty service members and veterans who have service-connected disabilities become suitably employed, maintain employment, or achieve independence in daily living.
The basic eligibility requirement for prosthetic items is that you are enrolled in the VA system and your provider requests an item and gives a proper medical justification for the item. Among the programs available to those with disabilities are:
- Automobile Adaptive Equipment
- Home Improvement & Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant
- Clothing Allowance
- Hearing Aids
- Orthotic & Prosthetic Devices
You can find additional detailed information about VA benefits or programs by contacting your regional VA office. VA benefits and programs are explained in detail at http://www.va.gov.