Military Benefits for Veterans and Dependents

Part 2 - Training, Healthcare, and Burial Benefits

Education and Training

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Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty)


The Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty) provides a program of education benefits to individuals who enter active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985, and receive an honorable discharge. Active duty includes full-time National Guard duty performed after Nov. 29, 1989. Members of the Army and Air Force National Guard who enlisted between June 30, 1985, and Nov. 29, 1989, had to decide before July 9, 1997, to participate in the Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty). To receive the maximum benefit, the participant must serve for three years. An individual also may qualify for the full benefit by initially serving two continuous years on active duty, followed by four years of Selected Reserve service, beginning within one year of release from active duty.

To participate in the Montgomery GI Bill, servicemembers have their military pay reduced by $100 a month for the first 12 months of active duty. This money is not refundable. The participant must have a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate before the first period of active duty ends. Completing 12 credit hours toward a college degree also meets this requirement. Individuals who initially serve a continuous period of at least three years of active duty, even though they were initially obligated to serve less, will be paid the maximum benefit.

Benefits under this program generally end 10 years from the date of the veteran's last discharge or release from active duty, but some extenuating circumstances qualify for extensions. A veteran with a discharge upgraded by the military will have 10 years from the date of the upgrade.

Vietnam Era GI Bill and VEAP Conversions

Also eligible for Montgomery GI Bill benefits are individuals who had remaining entitlement under the Vietnam Era GI Bill on Dec. 31, 1989, and served on active duty between Oct. 19, 1984, and July 1, 1985, and continued to serve on active duty to July 1, 1988, or to July 1, 1987, followed by four years in the Selected Reserve. An individual who converts from the Vietnam Era Gl Bill must have a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate before Dec. 31, 1989. Completion of 12 credit hours toward a college degree meets this requirement. Individuals who are involuntarily separated from active duty after Feb. 2, 1991, may receive Montgomery benefits, but they must have their basic pay reduced by $1,200. Those who voluntarily separated after Oct. 23, 1992, under the Voluntary Separation Incentive or the Special Separation Benefit programs also may participate if they reduce their basic pay by $1,200.

Discharges and Separations

For the Montgomery Gl Bill program, the discharge must be honorable. Discharges designated "under honorable conditions" and "general" do not establish eligibility. A discharge for one of the following reasons may result in a reduction of the required length of active duty: (1) convenience of the government; (2) disability; (3) hardship; (4) a medical condition existing before service; (5) force reductions; (6) physical or mental conditions which prevent satisfactory performance of duty.

Education and Training Available

The following are available under the Montgomery Gl Bill:1.Courses at colleges and universities leading to associate, bachelor or graduate degrees, and accredited independent study. 2.Courses leading to a certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools. 3.Apprenticeship or on-job training programs for individuals not on active duty. 4.Correspondence courses, under certain conditions. 5.Flight training. Before beginning training, the veteran must have a private pilot license and meet the medical requirements for a commercial license throughout the training program. Benefits may be received for flying hours up to the minimum required by the FAA for a rating or certification. 6.Tutorial assistance benefits if individual is enrolled in school half-time or more. Refresher, deficiency and other training also may be available. 7.State-approved teacher certification programs.


Participants are paid in advance but must train at the three-quarter or full-time rate. Participants under the supervision of a VA employee may provide outreach services, prepare and process VA paperwork, and work at a VA medical facility or perform other approved activities.


Counseling may be available for individuals who are eligible for VA educational assistance; who are on active duty and within 180 days of discharge; or who have been discharged one year or less. VA will help individuals understand their educational and vocational needs, and plan an educational or vocational goal. VA may also help individuals plan an effective job search.


Veterans who served on active duty for three years or more, or two years active duty plus four years in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, will receive $439.85 a month in basic benefits for 36 months. Those who enlist and serve for less than three years will receive $357.38 a month. VA pays an additional amount, commonly called a "kicker," if directed by the Defense Department.

Montgomery Gl Bill (Selected Reserve)


The Montgomery Gl Bill (Selected Reserve) provides education benefits to members of the reserve elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and to members of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. To be eligible for the program, a reservist must: (1) have a six-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve signed after June 30, 1985, or, if an officer, agree to serve six years in addition to the original obligation; (2) complete Initial Active Duty for Training (IADT); (3) have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate before completing IADT; and (4) remain in good standing in a Selected Reserve unit.

Education and Training Available

Reservists may seek an undergraduate degree or graduate training or take technical courses at colleges and universities. Those who have a six-year commitment beginning after Sept. 30, 1990, may take courses for a certificate or diploma from business, technical, or vocational schools; cooperative training; apprenticeship or on-job training; correspondence courses; independent study programs; flight training; tutorial assistance; remedial, refresher and other training; and state-approved certification programs for alternative teachers.


Participants are paid in advance but must train at the three-quarter or full-time rate. Participants under the supervision of a VA employee may provide outreach services, prepare and process VA paperwork, and work at a VA medical facility or perform other approved activities.

Period of Eligibility

If a reservist stays in the Selected Reserve, benefits end 10 years from the date the reservist became eligible for the program. VA may extend the 10-year period if the individual could not train due to a disability caused by Selected Reserve service. If a reservist leaves the Selected Reserve because of a disability, the individual may use the full 10 years. VA may also extend the 10-year period if the reservist was ordered to active duty. In other cases, benefits end the day the reservist leaves the Selected Reserve, except that certain individuals separated from the Selected Reserve due to downsizing of the military between Oct. 1, 1991, and Sept. 30, 1999, will have the full 10 years to use their benefits. If the 10-year period ends, however, while the participant is attending school, VA will pay benefits until the end of the term. If the training is not on a term basis, payments may continue for 12 weeks.


Counseling may be available for individuals who are eligible for VA educational assistance; who are on active duty and within 180 days of discharge; or who have been discharged one year or less. VA will help these individuals understand their educational and vocational strengths and weaknesses and plan an educational or vocational goal. VA also may help individuals plan a job search.


The full-time rate is $208.93 a month for 36 months.

Veterans' Educational Assistance Program (VEAP)


Under VEAP, active duty personnel voluntarily participated in a plan for education or training in which their savings were administered and added to by the federal government. Servicepersons were eligible to enroll in VEAP if they entered active duty for the first time after Dec. 31, 1976, and before July 1, 1985. Some contribution to VEAP must have been made prior to April 1, 1987. The maximum participant contribution is $2,700. While on active duty, participants may make a lump-sum contribution to the training fund.

A serviceperson who participated in VEAP is eligible to receive benefits while on active duty if: (1) at least three months of contributions are available, except for high school or elementary school, in which case only one month of contributions is needed; and (2) the first active-duty commitment is completed. If the individual's first term is for more than six years, benefits may be available after six years. To attend an elementary or high school program, the individual must be in the last six months of the first enlistment.

A veteran who participated in VEAP is eligible to receive benefits if the discharge was under conditions other than dishonorable and: (1) the first enlistment was prior to Sept. 8, 1980; or the participant entered active duty as an officer on or before Oct. 17, 1981, and served for a continuous period of 181 days or more, or was discharged for a service-connected disability; or (2) the participant enlisted for the first time on or after Sept. 8, 1980; or entered active duty as an officer on or after Oct. 17, 1981, and completed 24 continuous months of active duty.

Education eligibility may be established even though the required active duty is not completed if the veteran: (1) receives VA disability compensation or military disability retirement; (2) served a previous period of at least 24 continuous months of active duty before Oct. 17, 1981; or (3) was discharged or released for early out, hardship or service-connected disability.

Education and Training Available

VEAP participants may pursue associate, bachelor or graduate degrees at colleges or universities. Courses leading to a certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools may also be taken. Other opportunities may include apprenticeship or on-job training programs; cooperative courses; correspondence courses; tutorial assistance; refresher, deficiency and other training; and state-approved alternative teacher certification programs.

Flight training also may be pursued, including solo flying hours up to the minimum required by the FAA for the rating or certification being pursued. Before beginning training, the veteran must have a private pilot license and meet the medical requirements for a commercial license throughout the training program.

A participant may study abroad in programs leading to a college degree and in programs which offer, as part of the curriculum, nontraditional training away from school. A participant with a deficiency in a subject may receive tutorial assistance benefits if enrolled half-time or more.

Period of Eligibility

A veteran has 10 years from the date of last discharge or release from active duty to use VEAP benefits. This 10-year period can be extended by the amount of time the veteran could not train because of a disability or because of being held by a foreign government or power. The 10-year period may also be extended if the veteran reenters active duty for 90 continuous days or more after becoming eligible. For periods of less than 90 days, the veteran may qualify for extensions under certain circumstances. The extension ends 10 years from the date of discharge or release from the later active duty period. A veteran with a discharge upgraded by the military will have 10 years from the date of the upgrade.


Participants are paid in advance but must train at the three-quarter or full-time rate


When the participant elects to use VEAP benefits, the Defense Department will match the participant's contribution at the rate of $2 for every $1 the individual put into the fund. Defense also may make additional contributions to the fund in exchange for special duties performed by the participant.

Vocational and Educational Counseling

Counseling may be available for veterans who are eligible for VA educational assistance; who are on active duty and within 180 days of discharge; or who have been discharged one year or less. VA will help individuals understand their educational and vocational needs and help plan an educational or vocational goal. VA also may help in the search for a job.

Vocational Rehabilitation

A disabled veteran may receive employment assistance, self-employment assistance, training in a rehabilitation facility, and college and other training. Severely disabled veterans may receive assistance to improve their ability to live independently. The current rates for rehabilitation pay are on page 61.


Veterans and servicemembers are eligible for vocational rehabilitation if:1.They suffered a service-connected disability or disabilities in active service, and are receiving at least 20 percent compensation or would do so but for receipt of military retirement pay. Veterans with a 10 percent disability also may be found eligible if they have a serious employment handicap. 2.They were discharged or released under other than dishonorable conditions or are hospitalized awaiting separation for a service-connected disability. 3.They need vocational rehabilitation to overcome an employment handicap caused by their service-connected disability.

Period of Rehabilitation Program

The veteran must complete a rehabilitation program 12 years from the date of receiving a service-connected disability rating. This period may be extended if a medical condition prevented the veteran from training or if the veteran has a serious employment handicap. Disabled veterans may receive services until they have reached their rehabilitation goal, up to 48 months. VA may provide counseling, job placement and post-employment services for up to 18 additional months.

Rehabilitation Program Costs

While in training and for two months after completing training, eligible veterans may receive subsistence allowances in addition to their disability compensation or retirement pay. Servicemembers cannot receive subsistence allowances until they leave active duty. VA may pay the costs of tuition and required fees, books, supplies and equipment. VA may also pay for special support, such as tutorial assistance, prosthetic devices, lip-reading training and signing for the deaf. VA will help the veteran to pay for at least part of the transportation expenses unique to disabled persons during training or employment services. VA also may provide an advance against future benefit payments for veterans who run into financial difficulties during training.


Participants are paid in advance but must train at the three-quarter or full-time rate. Participants under the supervision of a VA employee may provide outreach services, prepare and process VA paperwork, work at a VA medical facility or perform other approved activities.

Program for Unemployable Veterans

Veterans awarded 100 percent disability compensation based upon unemployability may request an evaluation and, if found eligible, may participate in a vocational rehabilitation program and receive assistance in securing employment. A veteran with an unemployability rating who secures employment under the special program will continue to receive disability compensation without reduction until the veteran has worked continuously for 12 months.

Home Loan Guaranties

VA loan guaranties loans are made to servicemembers, veterans, reservists and unremarried surviving spouses for the purchase of homes, condominiums and manufactured homes and for refinancing loans. VA guarantees part of the total loan, permitting the purchaser to obtain a mortgage with a competitive interest rate, even without a down payment if the lender agrees. VA requires a down payment for the purchase of a manufactured home. VA also requires a down payment for a home or condominium if the purchase price exceeds the reasonable value of the property or the loan has a graduated payment feature. With a VA guaranty, the lender is protected against loss up to the amount of the guaranty if the borrower fails to repay the loan. A VA loan guaranty can be used to:1.Buy a home. 2.Buy a residential condominium. 3.Build a home. 4.Repair, alter or improve a home. 5.Refinance an existing home loan. 6.Buy a manufactured home with or without a lot. 7.Buy and improve a manufactured home lot. 8.Install a solar heating or cooling system or other weatherization improvements. 9.Purchase and improve a home simultaneously with energy- efficient improvements. 10.Refinance an existing VA loan to reduce the interest rate and make energy efficient improvements. 11.Refinance a manufactured home loan to acquire a lot.


Applicants must have a good credit rating, have an income sufficient to support mortgage payments, and agree to live in the property. To obtain a VA certificate of eligibility, complete VA Form 26-1880, "Request for Determination of Eligibility and Available Loan Guaranty Entitlement," and submit it to the nearest VA regional office. Eligibility varies with service.

World War II:1.active duty service after Sept. 15, 1940, and prior to July 26, 1947; 2.discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and 3.at least 90 days service unless discharged early for service-connected disability.

Post-World War II:1.active duty service after July 25, 1947, and prior to June 27, 1950; 2.discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and 3.181 days continuous active duty unless discharged early for service-connected disability.

Korean Conflict:1.active duty after June 26, 1950, and prior to Feb. 1, 1955; 2.discharge under other than dishonorable conditions; and 3.at least 90 days total service, unless discharged early for service-connected disability.

Post-Korean Conflict:1.active duty between Jan. 31, 1955, and Aug. 5, 1964; 2.discharge under conditions other than dishonorable; 3.181 days continuous service, unless discharged early for service-connected disability.

Vietnam:1.Active duty after Aug. 4, 1964, and prior to May 8, 1975; 2.Discharge under conditions other than dishonorable; and 3.90 days total service, unless discharged early for service-connected disability. For veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam, the beginning date is Feb. 28, 1961.

Post-Vietnam: For veterans whose enlisted service began before Sept. 8, 1980, or whose service as an officer began before Oct. 17, 1981:1.active duty for 181 continuous days, all of which occurred after May 7, 1975, and 2.discharge under conditions other than dishonorable; or 3.early discharge for service-connected disability. For veterans separated from enlisted service between Sept. 8, 1980, and Aug. 1, 1990, or service as an officer between Oct. 17, 1981, and Aug. 1, 1990: 1.completion of 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period -- at least 181 days -- for which the person was called or ordered to active duty, and discharge under conditions other than dishonorable; or 2.completion of at least 181 days of active duty with a hardship discharge or discharge for the convenience of the government, reduction in force or certain medical conditions; or 3.early discharge for service-connected disability.

Gulf War:1.completion of 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period and at least 90 days for which the person was called to active duty, and discharge from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable; or 2.discharge after at least 90 days with a hardship discharge, discharge at the convenience of the government, reduction in force or certain medical conditions, or discharge for service-connected disability. Reservists and National Guard members are eligible if they were activated after Aug. 1, 1990, served at least 90 days, and were discharged honorably.

Active Duty Personnel: Until the Persian Gulf era is ended by law or Presidential Proclamation, persons on active duty are eligible after serving on continuous active duty for 90 days. Six-month enlistees who serve for six months on active duty for training only are not eligible, but they may be eligible for FHA Home Mortgage Insurance for veterans.

Members of the Selected Reserve: Individuals are eligible if they have completed at least six years in the reserves or National Guard or were discharged because of a service-connected disability. This eligibility expires Oct. 28, 1999.

Others: Others eligible include unremarried spouses of veterans or reservists who died on active duty or as a result of service-connected causes; spouses of active-duty servicemembers who have been missing in action or a prisoner of war for at least 90 days; U.S. citizens who served in the armed forces of a U.S. ally in World War II; and members of organizations with recognized contributions to the U.S. World War II effort. Eligibility may be determined at any VA regional office.

Guaranty Amount

The amount of the VA guaranty available to an eligible veteran is called the entitlement, and may be considered the equivalent of a down payment by lenders. Up to $50,750 in entitlement may be available to veterans purchasing or constructing homes to be financed with a loan of more than $144,000 and to veterans who obtain an Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan of more than $144,000. The amount of entitlement varies with the loan amount. Loan guaranty limits are listed in a table on page 64.

VA does not establish a maximum loan amount. No loan for the acquisition of a home, however, may exceed the reasonable value of the property. A loan for the purpose of refinancing existing mortgage loans or other liens secured on a dwelling is generally limited to 90 percent of the appraised value of the dwelling. A loan to reduce the interest rate on an existing VA-guaranteed loan, however, can be made for an amount equal to the outstanding balance on the old loan plus closing costs, reasonable discount points and energy efficient improvements. A loan for the purchase of a manufactured home or lot is limited to 95 percent of the amount that would be subject to finance charges. In addition to these limits, the VA funding fee and up to $6,000 in energy-efficient improvements may be included.

A veteran who previously obtained a VA loan can use the remaining entitlement for a second purchase. The amount of remaining entitlement is the difference between $36,000, or $50,750 for special loans, and the amount of entitlement used on prior loans. Veterans refinancing an existing VA loan with a new VA loan at a lower interest rate need not have any entitlement available for use.

Required Occupancy

Veterans must certify that they intend to live in the home they are buying or building with a VA guaranty. A veteran who wishes to refinance or improve a home with a VA guaranty also must certify to being in occupancy at the time of application. A spouse may certify occupancy if the buyer is on active duty. In refinancing a VA-guaranteed loan solely to reduce the interest rate, veterans need only certify to prior occupancy.

Closing Costs

Payment in cash is required on all home loan closing costs, including title search and recording, hazard insurance premiums, prepaid taxes and a 1 percent origination fee, which may be required by lenders in lieu of certain other costs. In the case of refinancing loans, all such costs may be included in the loan, as long as the total loan does not exceed 90 percent of the reasonable value of the property. Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans may include closing costs and a maximum of 2 discount points. Loans, including refinancing loans, are charged a funding fee by VA, except for loans made to disabled veterans and unremarried surviving spouses of veterans who died as a result of service. The VA funding fee is based on the loan amount and, at the discretion of the veteran and the lender, may be included in the loan. Funding fee rates are listed in a table on page 64.

Financing, Interest Rates and Terms

Veterans obtain VA-guaranteed loans through the usual lending institutions, including banks, savings and loan associations, building and loan associations and mortgage loan companies. Veterans may obtain a loan with a fixed interest rate, which may be negotiated with the lender. If the lender charges discount points on the loan, the veteran may negotiate with the seller as to who will pay points or if they will be split between buyer and seller. Points paid by the veteran may not be included in the loan, except that a maximum of 2 points may be included in Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans. The term of the loan may be for as long as 30 years and 32 days. VA normally does not require that a down payment be made. VA does require a down payment for a manufactured home or lot loan, and for a loan with graduated payment features. And a down payment is required to prevent the amount of a loan from exceeding VA's determination of the property's reasonable value. If the sale price exceeds the reasonable value, the veteran must certify that the difference is being paid in cash without supplementary borrowing. A cash down payment of 5 percent of the purchase price is required for manuVeterans may obtain a loan

Release of Liability

When a veteran sells a home financed through a VA guaranty to a purchaser who assumes the loan, the veteran may request release from liability to the federal goverment provided the loan is current, the purchaser has been obligated by contract to purchase the property and assume all of the veteran's liabilities, and VA is satisfied that the purchaser is a good risk. A release of liability does not mean that a veteran's guaranty entitlement is restored. VA usually restores entitlement only when it is no longer liable. If the new veteran-buyer, however, agrees to substitute entitlement for that of the original veteran-buyer, entitlement may be restored to the original veteran-buyer.

For loans made on or after March 1, 1988, a release from liability determination must be made in every case involving the assumption of a VA-guaranteed loan. This will involve a determination of the good credit of the buyer assuming the loan by the holder of the loan or VA. A VA loan for which a commitment was made on or after March 1, 1988, is not assumable without approval of VA or its authorized agent. The person who assumes a VA loan for which a commitment was made on or after March 1, 1988, must pay a fee to VA equal to 1/2 of 1 percent of the balance of the loan being assumed. If a person disposes of the property securing a VA-guaranteed loan for which a commitment was made after March 1, 1988, without first notifying the holder of the loan, the holder may demand immediate and full payment of the loan.

Loans for Native Americans

VA direct home loans are available to eligible Native American veterans who wish to purchase, construct or improve a home on Native American trust land. These loans may be used to simultaneously purchase and improve a home. Direct loans also are available to reduce the interest rate on existing loans obtained under this program. VA direct loans may be limited to the cost of the home or $80,000, whichever is less. Before a Native American veteran can obtain a loan under this program, tribal officials and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs must sign an agreement that spells out the program. A funding fee must be paid to VA. The fee is 1.25 percent for loans to purchase, construct or improve a home. For loans to refinance an existing loan, the fee is 0.5 percent of the loan amount. Veterans receiving compensation for service-connected disability are not required to pay the funding fee. Veterans who qualify based on service in the Reserves or National Guard that was not active duty are charged a funding fee of 2 percent of the loan amount. The funding fee may be paid in cash or included in the loan. Other closing costs may not be included in the loan. The following may not be included in the loan: VA appraisal, credit report, loan processing fee, title search, title insurance, recording fees, transfer taxes, survey charges and hazard insurance.

Repossessed Houses

VA sells homes that have been acquired after foreclosure of a VA-guaranteed loan. These homes are available to both veterans and nonveterans. Contact local real estate agents for available listings.

Safeguards for Veterans

Homes completed less than a year before purchase with VA financing and inspected during construction by either VA or HUD must meet VA requirements.1.VA may suspend from the loan program those who take unfair advantage of veteran borrowers or decline to sell a new home or make a loan to an eligible veteran of good credit because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status or national origin. 2.The builder of a new home is required to give the purchasing veteran a one-year warranty that the home has been constructed to VA-approved plans and specifications. A similar warranty must be given for new manufactured homes. 3.In cases of new construction completed under VA or HUD inspection, VA may pay or otherwise compensate the veteran borrower for correction of structural defects seriously affecting livability if assistance is requested within four years of a home-loan guaranty. 4.The borrower obtaining a loan may only be charged the fees and other charges prescribed by VA as allowable. 5.The borrower can prepay without penalty the entire loan or any part not less than the amount of one installment or $100. 6.VA encourages holders to extend forbearance if a borrower becomes temporarily unable to meet the terms of the loan.

Life Insurance

Two regular and two disabled insurance programs are currently open for new policyholders. Servicemember's Group Life Insurance is open to active-duty members of the uniformed services. Veterans' Group Life Insurance is available to individuals released from active duty after Aug. 1, 1974, and to reservists. Service Disabled Insurance is available for veterans with service-connected disabilities. Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance provides mortgage life insurance for veterans granted specially adapted housing grants.

Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance

The following are automatically insured for $200,000 under Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI): active-duty members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard; commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Public Health Service; cadets or midshipmen of the service academies; members, cadets and midshipmen of the ROTC while engaged in authorized training; and members of the Ready Reserves. Individuals may elect to be covered for a lesser amount or not to be covered at all. Part-time coverage may be provided to members of the Reserves who do not qualify for full-time coverage. Premiums are deducted automatically from an individual's pay or are collected by the individual's service.

Veterans' Group Life Insurance

SGLI may be converted to Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI), which is renewable five-year term coverage. This program is administered by the Office of Servicemens' Group Life Insurance (OSGLI), 213 Washington St., Newark, NJ 07102. VGLI is available to: (a) individuals with full-time SGLI coverage upon release from active duty or the reserves; (b) individuals with part-time SGLI coverage who incur a disability or aggravate a pre-existing disability during a reserve period which renders them uninsurable at standard premium rates; and (c) members of the Individual Ready Reserve and Inactive National Guard.

Individuals entitled to SGLI coverage can convert to VGLI by submitting the premium within 120 days of separating from active duty. After 121 days, the veteran may be granted VGLI provided initial premium and evidence of insurability are submitted within one year after termination of the veteran's SGLI coverage. Individuals with full-time SGLI coverage who are totally disabled at the time of separation and whose service makes them eligible for VGLI may purchase the insurance while remaining totally disabled up to one year following separation.

Service Disabled Veterans Insurance

A veteran who has a service-connected disability but is otherwise in good health may apply to VA for up to $10,000 in life insurance coverage at standard insurance rates . This insurance is limited to veterans who left service after April 24, 1951. Veterans who are totally disabled may apply for a waiver of premiums. For those veterans who are eligible for this waiver, additional coverage of up to $20,000 is available. Premiums cannot be waived on the additional insurance.

Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance

The maximum amount of mortgage life insurance available for those granted a specially adapted housing grant is $90,000. Pro- tection is automatic unless the veteran declines. Premiums are au- tomatically deducted from VA benefit payments or paid direct, if the veteran does not draw compensation, and will continue until the mortgage has been liquidated, the home is sold, or the coverage terminates when the veteran reaches age 70. If a mortgage is disposed of, VMLI may be obtained on the mortgage of another home.

Insurance Dividends

Some insurance programs pay dividends. The dividends are paid on the policy anniversary date. The Internal Revenue Service has announced that interest on insurance dividends left on deposit with VA is not taxable. For details on this ruling contact the IRS.

Assistance with Insurance

For information about government life insurance, call the VA Insurance Center in Philadelphia toll-free, 1-800-669-8477. Specialists are available between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Eastern Time, to discuss premium payments, insurance dividends, changes of address, policy loans, naming beneficiaries and reporting the death of the insured. After hours a caller may listen to recorded insurance information or leave a recorded message to be answered on the next workday. If the policy number is unknown, send the veteran's VA file number, date of birth, Social Security number, military serial number or military service branch and dates of service to:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Regional Office and Insurance Center

Box 42954

Philadelphia, PA 19101

Increasing Insurance. Policyholders with National Service Life Insurance can use their dividends to purchase additional paid up coverage. Policyholders with Veterans Special Life Insurance and Veterans Reopened Insurance can purchase additions to coverage.

Reinstating Lapsed Insurance. Some lapsed term policies may be reinstated within five years from the date of lapse. Contact the Insurance Center for details. A five-year term policy that is not lapsed at the end of the term period is automatically renewed for an additional five-year period. The exception is the National Service Life Limited Convertible Term Plan, which may be converted to a permanent plan but may not be renewed after age 50.

Converting Term Policies. A term policy that is in force may be converted to a permanent plan. Upon reaching renewal at age 70 or older, National Service Life term policies on total disability premium waiver are automatically converted to a permanent insurance, which provides cash, loan value and higher dividends.

Modified Life Po"icy. A "modified life a" age 65" plan is available to National Service Life policyholders. The premium rates for this plan remain the same throughout the premium-paying period, while the face value reduces by 50 percent at age 65. The reduced amount may be replaced with a "special ordinary life." A "modified life at age 70" plan also is available.

Disability Provisions. National Service Life policyholders who become totally disabled should consult VA about premium waivers. U.S. Government Life policyholders who become totally disabled should consult VA about receiving monthly payments.

Borrowing on Policies. Policyholders may borrow up to 94 percent of the cash surrender value of their insurance and continue the insur-ance in force by payment of premiums. Interest on policy loans is compounded annually. The current interest rate may be obtained at any VA office, or by calling toll-free 1-0800-669-8477.

Burial Benefits

Burial in National Cemeteries

VA Cemeteries

Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, a headstone or marker, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria or gravesites for cremated remains. To contact a cemetery, see the "VA Facilities" section in the back of this book.

Veterans, servicemembers and dependents are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible. A 1997 law bars any veteran convicted of a federal or state capital crime from being buried or memorialized in one of the VA national cemeteries or in Arlington National Cemetery.

Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of service- members also may be buried in a national cemetery. If a surviving spouse of an eligible veteran marries a nonveteran, and remarriage was terminated by death or divorce of the nonveteran, the spouse is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors or others making burial arrangements must apply at the time of death. Reservations made under previous programs are honored. Cemeteries do not provide military honors but may make referrals to military units or volunteer groups. The National Cemetery System normally does not conduct burials on weekends. A weekend caller, however, will be directed to one of three VA cemetery offices that remain open during weekends to schedule burials at the cemetery of the caller's choice during the following week.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is under the jurisdiction of the Army. Eligibility for burials is more limited than other national cemeteries. Eligibility for cremated remains in Arlington's columbarium is the same as eligibility for burial in VA national cemeteries. For information on Arlington burials, write to Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211, or call 703-695-3250.

Interior Department, State Veteran Cemeteries

The two active national cemeteries administered by the Department of the Interior are Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee. Eligibility for burial is similar to VA cemetery eligibility. Cemeteries for veterans also are operated by many states. For burials in these ce- meteries, contact the cemetery or the applicable state.

Headstones and Markers

VA provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military post cemeteries. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, upright granite and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the cemetery. Niche markers also are available for cremated remains.

Headstones and markers are inscribed with the name of the deceased, branch of service, and the years of birth and death. Optional items that may be inscribed are military grade, rank or rate; war service such as "World War II"; months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one's religion; and text indicating valor awards. When burial is in a national, state veteran or military post cemetery, the headstone or marker is ordered through the cemetery, which will place it on the grave. Information on style, inscription and shipping can be obtained from the cemetery.

When burial occurs in a cemetery other than a national, military post or state veterans cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for from VA. It is shipped at government expense. VA, however, does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker. To apply, complete VA Form 40-1330 and forward it to Director, Memorial Programs Service (403A), National Cemetery System, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC 20420.

Forms and assistance are available at VA regional offices. For information regarding the status of an application, write to the Director, Memorial Programs Service (403A), or call 1-800-697-6947. VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or child buried in a private cemetery. Twenty-year reservists are eligible for a headstone or grave marker, if they are entitled to military retired pay at the time of death.

Headstones or Markers for Memorial Plots

To memorialize an eligible veteran whose remains are not available for burial, VA will provide a memorial headstone or marker. The headstone or marker is the same as that used to identify a grave except that the mandatory phrase "In Memory of" precedes the inscription. The headstone or marker is available to memorialize eligible veterans or deceased servicemembers whose remains were not recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and scattered. The memorial marker may be provided for placement in a cemetery other than a national cemetery. In such a case, VA supplies the marker and pays the cost of shipping, but does not pay for the plot or the placement of the marker. Only a relative recognized as the next of kin may apply for headstones and markers.

Presidential Memorial Certificates

Presidential Memorial Certificates express the nation's recognition of a veteran's service. Certificates bearing the signature of the President are issued honoring deceased veterans with honorable discharges. Eligible recipients include next of kin and other loved ones. The award of a certificate to one eligible recipient does not preclude certificates to other eligible recipients. Requests for a certificate must be accompanied by a copy of a document such as a discharge to establish honorable service. VA regional offices can assist in applying for certificates.

Burial Flags

VA provides an American flag to drape the casket of a veteran or reservist entitled to retired military pay. After the funeral service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate. VA also will issue a flag on behalf of a servicemember who was missing in action and later presumed dead. Flags are issued at VA regional offices and national cemeteries, and post offices.

Reimbursement of Burial Expenses

VA will pay a burial allowance up to $1,500 if the veteran's death is service-connected. In some instances, VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of the deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA.

VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility also may be established when death occurs in a VA facility, a nursing home under VA contract or a state nursing home. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service-connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.

VA will pay a $150 plot allowance when a veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. government jurisdiction under the following circumstances: the veteran is discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been in receipt of compensation but for receipt of military retired pay; or the veteran died while hospitalized by VA. The $150 plot allowance may be paid to the state if a veteran is buried without charge for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed.

Benefits for Survivors

Dependency and

Indemnity Compensation

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) payments may be authorized for surviving spouses who have not remarried, unmarried children under 18, helpless children, those between 18 and 23 if attending a VA-approved school, and low-income parents of servicemembers or veterans who died from: (1) a disease or injury incurred or aggravated while on active duty or active duty for training; (2) an injury incurred or aggravated in line of duty while on inactive duty training; or (3) a disability compensable by VA. Death cannot be the result of willful misconduct.

DIC payments also may be authorized for survivors of veterans who were totally service-connected disabled at time of death but whose deaths were not the result of their service-connected disability. The survivor qualifies if: (1) the veteran was continuously rated totally disabled for a period of 10 or more years immediately preceding death; or (2) the veteran was so rated for a period of at least five years from the date of military discharge. Payments under this provision are subject to offset by the amount received from judicial proceedings brought on account of the veteran's death. The veteran's discharge must have been under conditions other than dishonorable.

DIC Payments to Surviving Spouse

Surviving spouses of veterans who died after Jan. 1, 1993, receive $850 a month. For a spouse entitled to DIC based on the veteran's death prior to Jan. 1, 1993, the amount paid is $850 or an amount based on the veteran's pay grade as given in the table on page 62.

DIC Payments to Children and Parents

There are additional payments for dependent children. Where there is no surviving spouse, an unmarried child under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school, may be eligible. The monthly payment for parents of deceased veterans depend upon the income of the parents. A table on page 62 lists DIC for children.

Spina Bifida Allowance

Spina bifida patients who are children of Vietnam veterans are eligible for vocational training, health care, and a monthly allowance. Contact a VA regional office to apply for medical treatment. The monthly allowance is set at three levels based on the degree of disability suffered by the child. The three levels are based on neurological manifestations that define the severity of disability: impairment of the functioning of the extremities, impairment of bowel or bladder function, and impairment of intellectual functioning. Allowances for 1998 are listed on page 63.

Special Allowances

Surviving spouses and parents receiving DIC may be granted a special allowance to pay for aid and attendance of another person if they are patients in a nursing home or require the regular assistance of another person. Surviving spouses receiving DIC may be granted a housebound special allowance if they are permanently housebound. A table on page 62 lists the amount of the current allowances for spouses.

Restored Entitlement Program for Survivors

Survivors of veterans who died of service-connected causes incurred or aggravated prior to Aug. 13, 1981, may be eligible for special benefits. This benefit is similar to the benefits for students and surviving spouses with children between ages 16 and 18, that were eliminated from Social Security benefits. The benefits are payable in addition to any other benefits to which the family may be entitled. The amount of the benefit is based on information provided by the Social Security Administration.

Death Pension

Surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with wartime service may be eligible for a nonservice-connected pension based on need. Spouses must not have remarried and children must be under age 18, or under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school. Pension is not payable to those with estates large enough to provide maintenance. The veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and must have had 90 days or more of active military service, at least one day of which was during a period of war, or a service-connected disability justifying discharge for disability. If the veteran died in service but not in line of duty, benefits may be payable if the veteran had completed at least two years of honorable service. Children who became incapable of self-support because of a disability before age 18 may be eligible for a pension as long as the condition exists, unless the child marries or the child's income exceeds the applicable limit. A surviving spouse may be entitled to higher income limitations or additional benefits if a patient in a nursing home, in need of the aid and attendance by another person or permanently housebound.

The Improved Pension program provides a monthly payment to bring an eligible person's income to a support level established by law. The payment is reduced by the annual income from other sources such as Social Security paid to either the surviving spouse or dependent children. Medical expenses may be deducted from countable income. Pension is not payable to those who have assets that can be used to provide adequate maintenance. Maximum rates for the Improved Death Pension are listed on page 63.

Dependents' Education

Educational assistance benefits are available to spouses who have not remarried and children of:1.Veterans who died or are permanently and totally disabled as the result of a disability arising from active service in the Armed Forces. 2.Veterans who died from any cause while rated permanently and totally disabled from service-connected disability. 3.Servicemembers listed for more than 90 days as currently missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force. 4.Servicemembers listed for more than 90 days as currently detained or interned by a foreign government or power.

Benefits may be awarded for pursuit of associate, bachelor or graduate degrees at colleges and universities -- including independent study, cooperative training and study abroad programs. Courses leading to a certificate or diploma from business, technical or vocational schools also may be taken. Benefits may be awarded for apprenticeships, on-job training programs and farm cooperative courses. Benefits for correspondence courses under certain conditions are available to spouses only. Secondary-school programs may be pursued if the individual is not a high-school graduate. An individual with a deficiency in a subject may receive tutorial assistance benefits if enrolled half-time or more. Deficiency, refresher and other training also may be available.

Monthly Payments. Payments are made monthly. The full-time rate is $404 a month for full-time school attendance, with lesser amounts for part-time training. A person may receive educational assistance for full-time training for up to 45 months or the equivalent in part-time training. Payments to a spouse end 10 years from the date the individual is found eligible or from the date of the death of the veteran. VA may grant an extension. Children generally must be between 18 and 26 to receive education benefits, though extensions may be granted.

Work-Study. Participants must train at the three-quarter or full-time rate. They will be paid in advance 40 percent of the amount specified in the work-study agreement or an amount equal to 50 times the applicable minimum wage, whichever is less. Participants under the supervision of a VA employee may provide outreach services, prepare and process VA paperwork, and work at a VA medical facility or perform other approved activities.

Counseling Services. VA may provide counseling services to help an eligible dependent pursue an educational or vocational objective.

Special Benefits. An eligible child over age 14 with a physical or mental disability that impairs pursuit of an educational program may receive special restorative training to lessen or overcome that impairment. This training may include speech and voice correction, language retraining, lip reading, auditory training, Braille reading and writing, and similar programs. Specialized vocational training also is available to an eligible spouse or child over age 14 who is handicapped by a physical or mental disability that prevents pursuit of an educational program.

Spina Bifida Assistance. A child with spina bifida can receive vocational training to guide the child, parent or guardian in choosing a vocational training program. VCA also will provide up to 24 months of training to achieve a vocational goal.

Educational Loans

Loans are available to spouses who qualify for educational assistance. Spouses who have passed their 10-year period of eligibility may be eligible for an educational loan. During the first two years after the end of their eligibility period, they may borrow up to $2,500 per academic year to continue a full-time course leading to a college degree or to a professional or vocational objective which requires at least six months to complete. VA may waive the six-month requirement. Loans are based on financial need.

Home Loan Guaranties

A GI loan guaranty to acquire a home may be available to an unremarried spouse of a veteran or servicemember who died as a result of service-connected disabilities, or to a spouse of a servicemember who has been officially listed as missing in action or as a prisoner of war for more than 90 days. Spouses of those listed as prisoners of war or missing in action are limited to one loan.

Montgomery GI Bill (Active Duty) Death Benefit

VA will pay a special Montgomery GI Bill death benefit to a designated survivor in the event of the service-connected death of an individual while on active duty or within one year after discharge or release. The deceased must either have been entitled to educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill program or a participant in the program who would have been so entitled but for the high school diploma or length-of-service requirement. The amount paid will be equal to the participant's actual military pay reduction less any education benefits paid.

Health-Care Benefits

Health-Care Enrollment

To receive health care, veterans after October 1998 must be enrolled with VA, except for:1.Veterans with a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more. 2.Veterans discharged less than one year for a compensable disability. 3.Veterans seeking care for a service-connected disability.

To permit better planning of health resources, these three categories of veterans, however, are urged to apply for enrollment as well.

Veterans will be enrolled to the extent Congressional appropriations allow. If appropriations are limited, enrollment will occur based on the following priority:1.Veterans with service-connected conditions rated 50 percent or more disabling. 2.Veterans with service-connected conditions who are rated 30 or 40 percent disabling. 3.Veterans who are former POWs, veterans discharged from active duty for compensable conditions and veterans awarded special eligibility classification. 4.Veterans who are receiving aid and attendance or housebound benefits and veterans who have been determined by VA to be catastrophically disabled. 5.Nonservice-connected veterans and service-connected veterans rated zero percent disabled, whose income and net worth are below the established thresholds. 6.All other eligible veterans who are not required to make copayments for their treatment. This includes World War I and Mexican Border War veterans, veterans receiving care for exposure to toxic substances or environmental hazards while in service and compensable zero percent service-connected veterans. 7.Nonservice-connected veterans and noncompensable zero percent service-connected veterans with income and net worth above the statutory threshhold who agree to pay copayments.

Veterans will remain enrolled for one year, after which enrollment will be reviewed and renewed depending upon resources available to VA. Veterans who are not renewed will be notified in writing.

Hospital and Outpatient Care

Eligibility for VA hospital and outpatient care currently is divided into two categories: In the first category of veterans, VA shall provide hospital and outpatient care to the extent and in the amount that Congress appropriates funds. In the second category of veterans, VA may furnish hospital and outpatient care if resources and facilities are available if the veteran makes a copayment.

Category 1 is composed of the following: veterans in need of care for a service-connected condition; veterans who have a compensable service-connected disability; veterans whose discharge or release from active military service was for a compensable disability that was incurred or aggravated in line of duty; veterans who are former prisoners of war; veterans of the Mexican Border period or World War I; veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, ionizing radiation, or environmental hazards in the Persian Gulf; and veterans whose annual income and net worth are below the "means test" threshold. The threshold is adjusted annually and published in January.

Category 2 is composed of all other veterans, including nonservice-connected veterans with incomes and net worth above the "means test" threshold and zero percent service-connected veterans needing care for any nonservice-connected disability. These veterans must agree to make copayments. VA holds these patients responsible for the Medicare deductible for the first 90 days of care during any 365-day period. For each additional 90 days of hospital care, the patient is charged one-half the Medicare deductible. In addition to these charges, the patient is charged $10 a day for hospital care and $5 a day for VA nursing-home care. For outpatient care, the copayment is 20 percent of the cost of an average outpatient visit.

Financial Assessment

Not subject to a financial assessment are former POWs, Mexican Border period veterans and World War I veterans. Other veterans who are not service-connected or zero percent service-connected and not receiving monetary benefits from VA are required to complete a financial assessment. The income of the patient and the incomes of the patient's spouse and dependents are considered in making a "means test" eligibility assessment. The assessment includes Social Security, U.S. Civil Service retirement, U.S. Railroad Retirement, military retirement, unemployment insurance, any other retirement income, total wages from all employers, interest and dividends, workers' compensation, black lung benefits and any other gross income for the calendar year prior to application for care. Also considered are assets such as the market value of stocks, bonds, notes, individual retirement accounts, bank deposits, savings accounts and cash. Debts are subtracted from income and assets to determine net worth. The patient's primary residence and personal property are excluded from the net worth determination. The patient must fill out VA Form 10-10F, Financial Worksheet, at the time care is requested. VA has the authority to compare income information provided by the veteran with information obtained from the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.

Billing Insurance Companies

When applying for medical care, all veterans will be asked to provide information pertaining to health insurance coverage, including policies held by spouses. VA is authorized to submit claims to insurance carriers for the recovery of costs for medical care provided to nonservice-connected veterans and service-connected veterans for nonservice-connected conditions. Veterans will not be held responsible for the deductible requirements and copayments established by their insurance carriers. They also will not be responsible for portions of an insurance claim not covered by the policy. Veterans above certain income levels, however, are responsible for the copayments required by federal law.

Nursing-Home Care

Nursing care in VA or private nursing homes may be provided for veterans who are not acutely ill and not in need of hospital care. If space and resources are available in VA facilities, VA may provide nursing-home care. Veterans who have a service-connected disability are given first priority for nursing-home care. The following may be provided nursing-home care without an income eligibility assessment: veterans with service-connected disability, veterans who were exposed to herbicides while serving in Vietnam, veterans exposed to ionizing radiation during atmospheric testing or in the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, veterans with a condition related to an environmental exposure in the Persian Gulf, veterans who are former prisoners of war, veterans on VA pension, veterans of the Mexican Border period or World War I and veterans eligible for Medicaid.

Nonservice-connected veterans and zero percent noncompensable, service-connected veterans requiring nursing-home care for any nonservice-connected disability must submit an income eligibility assessment form, VA Form 10-10F, to determine whether they will be billed for nursing-home care.

Income assessment procedures are the same as for hospital care. If the veteran agrees to make the applicable copayment, nursing-home care may be authorized for nonservice-connected veterans and zero percent service-connected veterans. Veterans who need nursing-home care may be transferred at VA expense to private nursing homes from VA medical centers, nursing homes or domiciliaries. VA-authorized care normally may not be provided in excess of six months, except for veterans who need nursing-home care for a service-connected disability or for veterans who were hospitalized primarily for treatment of a service-connected disability.

Direct admission to private nursing homes at VA expense is limited to: (1) a veteran who requires nursing care for a service-connected disability after medical determination by VA; (2) a patient in a military hospital who requires a protracted period of nursing care and who will become a veteran upon discharge from the Armed Forces; and (3) a veteran who had been discharged from a VA medical center and is receiving home health services from VA.

Domiciliary Care

Domiciliary care provides rehabilitative and long-term, health-maintenance care for veterans who require minimal medical care but who do not need the skilled nursing services provided in nursing homes. VA may provide domiciliary care to veterans whose annual income does not exceed the maximum annual rate of VA pension or to veterans the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines have no adequate means of support.

Outpatient Pharmacy Services

Pharmacy services are provided free to: (1) veterans receiving medication for treatment of service-connected conditions; (2) veterans rated with50 percent or more service-connected veterans veterans rated with 50 percent or more service-connected disability; and (3) veterans whose annual income does not exceed the maximum VA pension. Nonservice-connected veterans and veterans with a service-connection rated less than 50 percent may be charged $2 for each 30-day supply.

Outpatient Dental Treatment

Outpatient dental treatment provided by VA includes examinations and the full spectrum of diagnostic, surgical, restorative and preventive techniques. Nonservice-connected veterans receiving dental care may be billed the applicable copayment if their income exceeds the maximum threshold. The following may receive care:1.Dental conditions or disabilities that are service connected. 2.Service-connected dental conditions or disabilities that are not compensable may receive one-time treatment if the conditions can be shown to have existed at discharge or within 180 days of release from active service. Veterans who served on active duty for 90 days or more during the Gulf War are included in this category. Veterans must apply to VA for dental care within 90 days following separation. 3.Veterans may receive treatment for service-connected, noncompensable dental conditions resulting from combat wounds or service injuries. 4.Veterans who were prisoners of war for 90 days or more may receive complete dental care. 5.Veterans may receive complete dental care if receiving dis- ability compensation at the 100-percent rate or if eligible to receive it by reason of unemployability. 6.Nonservice-connected dental conditions that are determined by VA to be aggravating a service-connected medical problem may be treated. 7.Veterans participating in a vocational rehabilitation program may be treated. 8.Veterans may be treated for nonservice-connected dental conditions when treatment was begun while in a VA medical center, if the dentist determines it is necessary to complete such dental treatment on an outpatient basis. 9.Veterans scheduled for admission to inpatient services or who are receiving medical services may receive outpatient dental care if the dental condition is determined to be complicating a medical condition that VA is currently treating.

Gulf War, Agent Orange and Ionizing Radiation

Registry Programs. Veterans who served in the Gulf War or who claim exposure to Agent Orange or atomic radiation are provided with free, comprehensive medical examinations, including laboratory and other diagnostic tests deemed by an examining physician necessary to determine health status. Results of the examinations, which include preparation of the veteran's military service and exposure history, are entered into special, computerized data bases, called registries. These data bases assist VA in analyzing the types of health conditions being reported by veterans Registry participants are advised of the results of their examinations in personal consultations. Veterans wishing to participate should contact the nearest VA health-care facility for an examination. VA operates a toll-free hotline at 800-749-8387 to inform Gulf War veterans about VA programs, their benefits and the latest information on Gulf benefits.

Treatment. VA provides treatment to any Gulf War veteran who may have been exposed to a toxic substance or environmental hazard during the Gulf War, for any disability related to such exposure. VA also provides medical treatment to any Vietnam-Era veteran who, while serving in Vietnam, may have been exposed to dioxin or to a toxic substance in a herbicide or defoliant used for military purposes, for conditions related to such exposure. Health-care services also are available for medical conditions possibly related to any veteran's exposure to ionizing radiation from the detonation of a nuclear device in connection with nuclear tests, or with the American occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during the period beginning Sept. 11, 1945, and ending July 1, 1946.

Beneficiary Travel

Veterans may be eligible for payment or reimbursement for travel costs to receive VA medical care. Travel payments are subject to a deductible of $3 for each one-way trip and an $18 per month maximum payment. Two exceptions to the deductible are travel for a compensation or pension examination and travel by special modes of transporttion, such as an ambulance or a speciall y equipped van. Beneficiary travel payments may be made to the following: (1) veterans whose service-connected disabilities are rated at 30 percent or more; (2) veterans traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition; (3) veterans who receive a VA pension; (4) veterans traveling for compensation or pension examination; (5) veterans whose income is less than or equal to the maximum VA pension rate; (6) veterans whose medical condition requires use of a special mode of transportation, if the veteran is unable to defray the costs and travel is pre-authorized. If the medical condition is a medical emergency, travel need not be pre-authorized when a delay would be hazardous.

Alcohol and Drug-Dependence Treatment

Veterans eligible for VA medical care may apply for substance-abuse treatment. Veterans without service-connected disabilities whose incomes exceed the threshold for free medical care may be authorized treatment for alcohol and drug dependence only if the veteran agrees to make a copayment.

Prosthetic Services

Veterans may apply for prosthetic services for conditions requiring hospital and outpatient care. For assistance, Prosthetic Service at the nearest VA medical center or outpatient should be contacted.

Services and Aids for Blind Veterans

Blind veterans may be eligible for services at a VA medical center or for admission to a VA blind rehabilitation center or clinic. Services are available at all VA medical facilities through the Visual Impairment Services (VIS) coordinator. In addition, blind veterans entitled to receive disability compensation may receive VA aids for the blind. Benefits for blind veterans include:1.A total health and benefits review by a VA Visual Impairment Services team. 2.Adjustment to blindness training. 3.Home Improvements and Structural Alterations to homes. 4.Specially adapted housing and adaptations. 5.Low-vision aids and training in their use. 6.Electronic and mechanical aids for the blind, including adaptive computers and computer-assisted devices. 7.Guide dogs, including the expense of training the veteran to use the dog and the cost of the dog's medical care. 8.Talking books, tapes and Braille literature, which are provided from the Library of Congress.

Home Improvements and Structural Alterations

The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations program helps pay for home improvements necessary to provide disability access to the home. VA will pay up to $4,100 for home alterations for a veteran being treated for a service-connected disability or a veteran with a disability rating of 50 percent or more. Up to $1,200 may be paid to other eligible veterans. Apply at the nearest VA medical center.

Readjustment Counseling

Readjustment counseling is provided at Vet Centers to help veterans resolve war-related psychological difficulties and to help them achieve a successful post-war readjustment to civilian life. Assistance includes group, individual and family counseling. Eligible for counseling are veterans who served on active duty in a combat theater during World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Era, the Persian Gulf War, or the campaigns in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama or Somalia. Veterans who served in the active military during the Vietnam Era are eligible, even if they were not in a combat theater. Veterans may also be placed with non-VA agencies for counseling.

One common readjustment problem is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This refers to such symptoms as nightmares, intrusive recollections or memories, flashbacks, anxiety or sudden reactions after exposure to traumatic conditions. Readjustment difficulties may affect functioning in school, family or work. Counseling also is provided veterans for difficulties due to sexual assault or harassment while on active duty. In areas distant from Vet Centers or VA medical facilities, veterans may obtain readjustment counseling from private-sector profesionals who are on contract with VA. To locate a contract provider, contact the nearest Vet Center.

Special Categories for Medical Care

Merchant Marine Seamen

Merchant Marine seamen who served in World War II may qualify for veterans benefits. When applying for medical care, seamen must present their DD-214 discharge certificate from the Defense Department to the VA medical facility. VA regional offices can assist in obtaining a certificate.

Allied Veterans

VA is authorized to provide reciprocal medical care to veterans of nations allied or associated with the United States during World War I or World War II. Such treatment is available at any VA medical facility if authorized and reimbursed by the foreign government. VA also is authorized to provide hospitalization, outpatient and domiciliary care to former members of the armed forces of Czechoslovakia or Poland who participated during World Wars I and II in armed conflict against an enemy of the United States, if they have been citizens of the United States for at least 10 years.

Medical Care for Dependents and Survivors

CHAMPVA, the VA Civilian Health and Medical Program, shares the cost of medical care for dependents and survivors of veterans. If not eligible for CHAMPUS or Medicare, Part A, as a result of reaching age 65, the following are eligible for CHAMPVA:1.The spouse or child of a veteran who has a permanent and total service-connected disability. 2.The spouse or child of a veteran who died of a service-connected condition, or who, at the time of death, was permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected condition. 3.The spouse or child of a person who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct, within 30 days of entry into active service.

Beneficiaries age 65 or older who lose eligibility for CHAMPVA by becoming potentially eligible for Medicare, Part A, or who qualify for Medicare, Part A, benefits on the basis of a disability may re-establish CHAMPVA eligibility by submitting documentation from the Social Security Administration certifying they are not entitled to or have exhausted Medicare, Part A, benefits. Persons under age 65 who are enrolled in both Medicare Parts A and B may become eligible for CHAMPVA as a secondary payer to Medicare. Apply to the VA Health Administration Center, P.O. Box 65023, Denver, CO 80206, or call 1-800-733-8387.

Women Veterans

Women veterans are eligible for the same VA benefits as male veterans. Services and benefits for women veterans are gender-sensitive, reflecting an understanding that women have unique health-care needs. VA provides appropriate and timely medical care to any eligible woman veteran. In addition to routine medical care, VA medical facilities provide each woman veteran upon admission with a complete physical exam that includes a breast and pelvic examination. Preventive health care is emphasized that includes counseling, contraceptive services, menopause management, Pap smears and mammography. Referrals are made for services that are not available at a VA facility.

VA health care professionals provide counseling and treatment to help women overcome psychological trauma resulting from personal and sexual assault during military service.

To ensure privacy for women veterans, VA medical centers have made structural changes. Women Veterans' Coordinators are available at all VA facilities to assist women veterans seeking treatment and benefits.

Homeless Veterans

A number of VA benefits prevent at-risk veterans from becoming homeless, including diability compensation, pension and education benefits. Homeless veterans also are provided special assistance through many VA program initiatives.

In addition, VA provides health and rehabilitation programs for homeless veterans. Health Care for Homeless Veterans programs provide outreach and comprehensive medical, psychological and rehabilitation treatment programs. Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans programs provide residential rehabilitation services. VA has a growing number of Compensated Work Therapy/Therapeutic Residence group homes, special daytime, drop-in centers, and Comprehensive Homeless Centers.

VA's Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program assists nonprofit and local government agencies to establish housing or service centers for homeless veterans. Grants are awarded for the construction, acquisition or renovation of facilities, and for the purchase of vans for the transportation of homeless veterans. VA also has joined with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Social Security Administration, veterans service organizations, and community nonprofit groups to assist homeless veterans. For information on benefits for homeless veterans, contact the nearest VA facility.

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