There are many benefits available to wartime veterans, surviving spouses, and children. First let’s discuss who qualifies as a wartime veteran. A wartime veteran is one who served active military duty during one of the eligible wartime periods. They include the Mexican Border Period, World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Era, and the Gulf War. Eligibility requirements for a wartime veteran are outlined clearly at https://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/vetpen.asp. It is also important to know that (1) a veteran is automatically classified as totally disabled at age 65 or older and (2) to check income requirements for eligibility which can also be accessed from this web page.
These veterans are eligible for many benefits—some the veteran may be aware of, but others go untapped. Most people are aware of the Veterans Pension, but that’s not all the assistance they can receive. Two additional benefits are Aid and Assistance and the Housebound supplement. A veteran receiving a pension may be able to receive additional income to help with care with one of these benefits, but not both at the same time. Aid and Attendance is extra monetary benefits provided to veterans or surviving spouses who require extra assistance for performing everyday life tasks. Housebound is available to those confined to their home due to a permanent disability. Many veterans and their families do not know about these two benefits and bear a greater financial burden than necessary or find that they are unable to bear the burden and end up in undesirable living situations.
Health care is available to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Each veteran is different, so it is important to check eligibility at the Department of Veterans Affairs website. Wartime veterans can also receive extra medical care for treatment of illnesses related to service during wartime. An example of this would be a Vietnam Era veteran who was exposed to Agent Orange. Children of Vietnam veterans who are diagnosed with spina bifida can receive an allowance for health care. Wartime veterans are also eligible to apply for mental health services. The veteran and their family can receive readjustment counseling after returning from active duty. Mental health care may also be available for other types of psychological trauma related to war, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Veterans Affairs offers inpatient and outpatient mental health care in their health care facilities and through community based outpatient services. Veterans can get reimbursed for travel to and from VA health care or approved non-VA health care. This includes mileage or payment for other modes of transportation deemed necessary.
Veterans and their families can be eligible for education benefits. Through the GI Bill veterans can receive help with paying for higher education. There are also vocational training and rehabilitation programs offered to veterans. If the veteran died in the line of duty, is missing in action, or has a permanent disability that prevents them from working, the spouse and children may also be eligible for education benefits. In addition, there are job locating and career help services available.
Mortgage help is another benefit for wartime veterans. A veteran with a service related injury is eligible for Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI). In the event of the veteran’s death, VMLI can offer mortgage protection by helping the family pay for the mortgage. The VA also offers home loans through private lenders for veterans. Tax preparation is a benefit offered to veterans who are eligible through the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly. Finally, an eligible veteran qualifies for burial in a national cemetery.
Often times, aging veterans have no idea of the benefits available to them. It is important that the veteran or the family of the veteran become well informed of the benefits and eligibility for those benefits. Veterans’ benefits can be a real game changer for those veterans that are struggling to make ends meet.
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