Benefits for U.S. Veterans
Receiving well-deserved assistance
The United States has one of the most comprehensive systems of veterans’ care in the world. Veterans and their caregivers are eligible for many benefits and services that help to make their lives more manageable in recognition of their many sacrifices. Here in Virginia, veterans can access not only national level resources but also state resources through the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS). Although it may seem daunting at first to navigate the system, the benefits are worth your efforts, and there are numerous people to assist you along the way.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides benefits to eligible veterans, caregivers and family members. Veterans often suffer from life-limiting injuries and chronic pain associated with their military service. Many of the available benefits and resources recognize these challenges and aim to keep the veteran’s independence while still optimizing quality of life and well-being.
At the national level, veterans’ benefits cover everything from education to health care. Some benefits primarily support service members transitioning out of military service. Other benefits recognize the needs of veterans as they age. Visit www.Benefits.va.gov/benefits or call the national number, 800-827-1000, for a complete list or to apply. The list below indicates some of the most-used benefits.
- Death pension
- Dependency indemnity compensation
- Direct deposit
- Directions to VA benefits regional offices
- Disability compensation
- Disability pension
- Home loan guaranty
- Medical care
- Vocational rehabilitation and employment
As veterans age, they will find a more focused list of resources at the VA’s Geriatrics and Extended Care Services (GEC). The GEC, whose website is VA.gov/geriatrics, has services that range from in-home care to nursing homes. These services include coaching to help veterans and caregivers deal with the challenges they face, a supervised exercise program called Gerofit and advanced care planning.
Caregivers and family members should also look at VA.gov/opa/persona/caregiver_family.asp and Caregiver.va.gov, where they will find the VA’s web pages specifically designed with them in mind.
Other benefits worth investigating further at the GEC website include:
- Adult day health care
- Home-based primary care
- Homemaker and home health aide
- Hospice care
- Palliative care
- Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
- Respite care
- Community Residential Care (CRC)
- Medical Foster Homes (MFH)
- State veteran homes
For state benefits and assistance in obtaining federal (VA) benefits, the Virginia Department of Veterans Services is your primary resource. The department is responsible for six service delivery sections:
- Benefits services
- Veterans’ education, transition and employment
- Veterans’ cemeteries
- Long-term nursing care centers in Richmond and Roanoke with two additional care centers slated to open in Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach in 2021
- Virginia War Memorial
- Virginia Veteran and Family Support Program
The department works closely with three citizen boards to ensure veterans in Virginia receive effective delivery of services from the department. For more information on the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, visit their website at DVS.virginia.gov or call 804-786-0286.
According to the VDVS site, there are 31 benefits service offices throughout the state. These offices, listed at DVS.virginia.gov, can assist veterans and families with obtaining both state and national benefits. There is no charge for their services.
The VA and VDVS are fantastic resources with many friendly and knowledgeable people willing to assist veterans to utilize the benefits they have earned. There are additional organizations that can help as well. Known as Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) these entities provide other benefits and assist with applying for VA benefits. A complete list of VSOs recognized by the VA is at VA.gov/vso/VSO-Directory_2013-2014.pdf.
Some of the more recognizable VSOs include:
- The American Legion: Legion.org
- AMVETS: AMVETS.org
- DAV (Disabled American Veterans): DAV.org
- Veterans of Foreign Wars: VFW.org
Veterans, their caregivers and families have gone through and often continue to endure great trials and tribulations. They have earned the right to utilize all the benefits they are eligible to receive. For more information and help, please contact any of the resources listed above. To all my fellow veterans, thank you for your service!
David Daly is a former Marine Corps major who served four tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. He is a writer, photographer and commercial drone pilot with VigilanteDrones.com. He lives with his wife, Daphne, in Montana.