26 Feb Getting the Benefits You Deserve
For you to reap the benefits you deserve, you need to know what they are. While there are a wide range of benefits available to veterans no one will seek you out to tell you what they are and make sure you use them. Instead, you need to be able to ask for them.
Many people are acquainted with some of their veteran’s benefits such as medical care and disability pay. But there remain many benefits which are not well known including loans for starting small businesses and free headstones in the event of death. There are also cash payments that you can use for your college degree or your vocational training as well as programs to help you find homes, buy a house, retire, memorial benefits, burial benefits, shopping perks, travel perks, and a variety of programs for surviving family members.
Before America was founded, soldiers were offered benefits for their service – to the point that anyone disabled due to an injury received while defending the colony would be taken care of thereafter by the colony. Recruitment was increased in the Revolutionary War by providing enlisted officers bonuses of half pay for seven years after service as well as a bonus of $80 for re-enlistment after the war. Congress additionally gave pensions for anyone disabled during a conflict. Land deeds were promised in exchange for military service. As a result, our country has continually tried to provide for our soldiers.
Understanding The Word “No”
When you are initially told “no” for a benefit, you should ask for clarification as to why. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not always spell it out for you. So if you tried to gain access to a benefit years ago and were told “no” you might consider trying again. As of September 2008, the VA is required to include simple language in any rejection letter.
But more importantly, the VA often rejects claims because the correct paperwork was not included—not because you did not qualify. This is referred to as “supporting evidence.” If you know that you qualify and the VA turns you down, you are allowed to appeal that decision with the correct paperwork.
A valuable benefit to most military veterans is being eligible for healthcare. This healthcare eligibility, which is determined by status and income, is provided by either the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or through the Department of Defense (DOD).
The VA’s healthcare program is designed to meet the basic medical needs of all veterans, whether or not they have an injury or illness related to their service in the military. The VA’s system places an emphasis upon preventative care, focusing on areas such as examinations, vaccinations, primary care, emergency care, hospitalizations, surgeries, mental health care, counseling services, etc. Also, some veterans may be eligible for free eyeglasses, hearing aids, and assistance with travel expenses in certain circumstances.
Military retirees who have served for 20 or more years have access to a separate healthcare system managed by the DOD, called Tricare. These retirees are also eligible for the VA healthcare system, but Tricare offers a broader spectrum of healthcare options, including availability for immediate family members.
Military veterans who can prove that they have a disability, or medical condition, worsened by their service in the military may qualify for a monthly payment called disability compensation.
Disability compensation is determined based upon a rating scale. The VA rates disabilities in 10 percent increments, on a scale of 10 percent to 100 percent. This rating is determined by various factors, including the severity of the disability, and the number of dependents who live with the veteran. As such, monthly payments can range from $117 per month to$7,000 per month. In some circumstances, veterans with one day of wartime service may be eligible for disability compensation.
Memorial Benefits and Taking Care of Surviving Family Members
There are many memorial benefits and life insurance programs available for veterans who die. Some of the benefits available for most deceased veterans include free burial services, cost-free gravesite markers and headstones, reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses, free burial at national and state veteran’s cemeteries, and military funeral honors performed by a precision military honor guard. Furthermore, certain life insurance programs are only available to veterans, and surviving family members may also be eligible for medical care, pensions, and education benefits.
The GI Bill
The GI Bill has existed since World War II, but the program that was initiated at that time looks much different than what it looks like today. For example, the GI Bill of the 21st Century was created in 2008 and applies to most veterans who have active-duty services since September 11, 2001. Regardless of its changing face over the years, the GI Bill remains a program that is applicable in many situations for veterans looking to receive an education.
Federal Government Jobs for Veterans
The largest employer in the United States is the federal government, with over 1.8 million employees. For comparison, the closest business employer is Wal-Mart, with over 1.1 million employees.
As such, some veterans may qualify for a hiring preference for federal government jobs. When a veteran applies for a federal government job, he or she may be eligible for additional hiring points. These points may also increase if the veteran served during certain periods of time. Veterans can also receive benefits such as reduced interest rates when applying for a government-backed business loan from the Small Business Association.
Veteran Home Ownership
Veterans who desire to own their own homes have the opportunity to take advantage of the VA Home Loan Program. Under this program, the government does not lend any money to the veteran but instead guarantees the loan. In other words, if a veteran defaults on their loan, the government will pay off the loan, up to a certain amount. This may be attractive to mortgage lenders, and therefore make it easier for a veteran to purchase a home. At the same time, certain enlisted veterans may be able to take advantage of two retirement homes operated by the federal government, or several private nonprofit retirement communities that are available.
Veteran Shopping Savings
There are many ways veterans can save while shopping. Shopping on military bases or through the military exchange system’s websites can bring savings of up to 30 or 40 percent. Also, many veterans can find shopping savings in other ways, including free aircraft flights, discount luxury condominium rentals in exotic locations, Armed Forces Recreation Centers, and discounted lodging at military hotels.
The reality is that there are currently millions of veterans living in the United States. Some are more vocal about their veteran status, are active in veteran’s affairs, and belong to various veteran organizations. Others are quieter about their veteran status, rarely mentioning that they served in the military. Either way, there is a good chance that everyone knows at least one person who is a veteran.
David JohnsonPosted at 01:50h, 10 September
I had no idea there were so many different benefits available, such as cash payments and programs to buy homes. My wife and I just moved and we’re trying to find a place that we can stay for a while. We’ll have to look into homes for heroes programs.
KeithPosted at 01:53h, 10 May
I’m mad as hell let me tell ya. I know this guy who has worked full time for years and shows no signs of disability. He just got approved for 100% disability and told to go quit his job, which he did. On top of that he is now applying for railroad disability. All this on self reported symptoms. So the government takes a full time working guy paying taxes and tells him to go home, sit on your ass and we’ll send you about $6000 a month tax free! I’m telling you there’s nothing wrong with this guy. This is just plain irresponsibility on the VA.
Laura BradshawPosted at 18:58h, 14 June
How can I find out what benefits my brother-in-law may be eligible for? My sister has asked that I look into this for her (and her 81 year old) husband, a veteran.
VA.org EditorPosted at 18:08h, 15 June
You can see all benefits here: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage