The VA Health Care System

To ensure a high quality of life after service, the VA Health Care System was created and made available to Veterans.  The VA Health Care System provides Veterans with free or inexpensive health care options, as well as many programs dedicated to make transitioning back into civilian life easier.  The VA Health Care system also make receiving quality health care easier for Veterans by providing over 1,400 facilities including various hospitals, clinics, and living and counseling centers.

Who is Considered a Veteran?

Because benefits available to military veterans have been established over the years, veterans of different eras will have different benefits available to them. Due to this, defining who is a Veteran and which Veterans qualify for which benefits can be difficult. Most of those eligible for VA health benefits today, however, are considered Veterans according to the guidelines below:

  • Served 24 months concurrently if enlisted after September, 7th, 1980 or entered active duty after October 16th, 1981
  • Completed a full active duty period if enlisted after September, 7th, 1980 or entered active duty after October 16th, 1981
  • Were discharged for any reasons other than a dishonorable discharge

How Does a Veteran Enroll in the VA Health Care System?

While the Veteran was in active duty, they were automatically enrolled in the military’s TRICARE health system. Once a Veteran retires they must enroll themselves into the VA health care system by filing a VA Form 10-10EZ. There are specific groups of veterans, however, that do not have to, but are encouraged, to enroll.  They are as follows:

  • Veterans suffering from 50% disability as a result of service
  • Veterans currently being treated for a disability
  • Veterans wishing to take advantage of VA benefits for a disability resulting from service
  • Veterans seeking Registry Examinations for Ionizing Radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War/ Operation Iraqi Freedom exposure, or Depleted Uranium.

For Veterans who would like to supplement their standardized Medical Benefits Package, VA health care does offer other options. Retired Veterans can receive supplemental health insurance through TRICARE which is part of the central military health insurance system, but is sold by private insurance companies. For Veterans with further questions about the health benefits they are eligible for, they should contact the VA.

Photo thanks to 60in3 under creative common license on Flickr.

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