Memorial Day is an important holiday for our nation. On this day we honor our nation’s veterans, saying thank you for all they have done and continue to do for us.
When it comes to taking care of the veterans you care about, you can do more than just say thank you to them. Instead, you can show your gratitude and appreciation by becoming familiar with the benefits available to them through the Department of Veterans Affairs and in their own community.
While most of us know there are monetary and healthcare benefits associated with veterans who were wounded in action, many of us don’t know what form those benefits actually take or what is available to veterans who were not injured in action or who never saw combat. We want to share with you important benefits that are available to those servicemen and women who have served our country. Although there are numerous programs, services and benefits available, these are the top six benefits we have seen have a great impact in the lives of American veterans.
1. Service connected disability. This benefit provides monetary aid to veterans based on an injury they sustained as a result of their service. The VA uses a disability rating system to calculate an award for the veteran after the disability is proven. This amount can be appealed to potentially raise it higher than the amount initially awarded if the veteran or veteran’s advocate believes it should be. It can also be applied for years after the injury causing the disability took place.
2. VA Pension with Aid and Attendance. There is monetary aid available for veterans based on dates of qualifying wartime service who were injured as a result of their service and for those who did not sustain an injury. The disability threshold required for this award makes it available to many seniors because, under the current VA rules, a person is considered disabled once he or she reaches the age of 65. VA Pension that has three levels of monetary award, including VA Homebound Benefits and VA Aid and Attendance.
3. Presumptive service connection for disability. There are some medical conditions and circumstances that the VA presumes were caused by military service. For example, Parkinson’s Disease in veterans who served in the Republic Of Vietnam during a specific period of time are presumed to be linked. You can click this link to the VA to learn what conditions are considered presumptive.
4. VA healthcare. The VA healthcare system is called Tri-Care and is available to veterans and their family members. VA healthcare is available to all veterans with or without a service connected disability. Once you receive VA healthcare benefits, you can decide how to use your benefits. This includes being able to stay with your current physicians or on your current medications, which many veterans are afraid of losing access to by changing to Tri-Care as a healthcare provider. Within the VA healthcare system, there are Priority Groups. There are different Priority Groups for benefits that provide different services and deductibles to veterans and their family members. You can click this link to learn more about the Priority Groups of VA.
5. Geriatrics and extended care assistance. In some areas the Department of Veterans Affairs has long-term care assistance programs. The VA can provide companion caregivers, home health aides and additional assistance to make sure that senior veterans are able to have the help they need within their home. There are even pilot programs for memory care and other dementia related support. You can click this link to find programs in your area.
6. Veterans Treatment Courts. For some veterans, the transition back to civilian life has been difficult if not impossible. These veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) or are struggling with substance abuse, mental illness, or military sexual trauma. Often overlooked, ignored, and left untreated, this can lead to situations resulting in these veterans getting arrested and charged with crimes. The normal criminal justice model is ill-equipped to handle the unique aspects of veterans or the circumstances surrounding their cases. Fortunately, Veterans Treatment Courts have been created in counties across California and nationwide (with Orange County being a leader among them) to bring more awareness, understanding, and compassion about veterans and their issues. The Veterans Treatment Court model is based on a restorative justice and moves away from incarceration as a means to rehabilitate those who break the law. The philosophy instead is to reduce recidivism by helping treat the veteran, connect them with services and support, and train them how to continue to do so on their own. Learn more about how Veterans Treatment Court works by clicking here.
This Memorial Day do not only say thank you to the veterans that you love. Get educated, learn about the benefits available to our veterans and share your knowledge with them.
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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an attorney at Snyder Law, PC in Irvine, California. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community about estate planning and how to protect what matters most.