It is never easy for any of us to provide caregiving services. Caregivers work around the clock to provide much needed care to their loved ones. Although this a labor of love, especially when it is a family member providing care, you want to ensure that you have as much support and as many resources as possible. When the loved one you are caring for is a veteran, the first step in providing care may be enrolling in Veterans Affairs health benefits.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs defines a “veteran” as someone who served in the active military service and who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Former service members who meet this definition are generally eligible for VA health care, which can be quite substantial. Reservists and National Guard members are also able to enroll as long as they were called into active duty by federal order and served minimum periods of eligibility.
If you are not sure if you or your aging parent is eligible, go ahead and take the time to apply. The VA encourages everyone who was at one time or another affiliated with the military to submit an application. VA health benefits exist to support veterans, and while there is nothing to lose by applying, there is so much to be gained.
Once enrolled, there are a wide variety of benefits and services offered. This can be in addition to routine hospital and physician-related care. These services can include, but not be limited to, home health care, mental health care, women’s health care, wellness programs, rehabilitation services, and more.
The Veterans Health Administration is actually the country’s largest integrated health care system, with 1,243 care facilities across the country, including 172 medical centers and 1,062 outpatient sites offering a number of different services. We have many of these facilities located right here in our area of Virginia and you can find the one closest to you.
Another item offered, and often overlooked in veterans care, is support for family caregivers just like you. Family members provide the majority of health support and living assistance to elder vets and those who have suffered severe injuries.
Thankfully, the VA understands this, and has included caregiving support among its covered services. In some cases, family members can even be paid for their caregiving activities. The number one rule for any caregiver is to take care of themselves, and the VA’s robust caregiver support program can help do just that.
Similar to Medicare, VA health care operates on an annual enrollment system and involves a variety of factors when determining levels of benefits, which includes enhanced coverage for former prisoners of war, Purple Heart recipients and those with VA Pensions. If you or someone you know needs assistance, contact your local Veterans Affairs office or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387). We also encourage you to talk to our firm about your questions and schedule a consultation with our own attorney, Donna Wilson.