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Understanding the VA medical benefits package

The VA medical benefits package provides a full range of preventive outpatient and inpatient services within VA health care system. Also, once you enroll in the VA's health care system, you can be seen at any VA facility across the country. VA operates an annual enrollment system that helps to manage the provision of health care by providing an overall population of beneficiaries. Additionally, the enrollment system ensures that veterans who are eligible can get care and ensures that care is given to veterans who are eligible. VA applies a variety of factors in determining veterans' eligibility for enrollment, but once a veteran is enrolled, that veteran remains enrolled in the VA health care system. There are many ways that a veteran may qualify to receive VA health care at more than 1,400 medical centers and clinics across the nation. The VA has highly trained physicians and clinicians that allow the VA to address many specialties. You may also be able to receive assistance with prescription medication. VA health care is portable. Once enrolled, you may receive care at your home facility as well as the nearest VA facility while traveling.

Basic service criteria include:

• You served in the active military, naval, or air service and were honorably discharged or released; or

• You were/are a Reservist or National Guard member and you were called to active duty by a Federal Order (for other than training purposes) and you completed the full call-up period.

Any of the following applies to you:

• You were discharged or separated for medical reasons, early out, or hardship.

• You served in theater of combat operations within the past 5 years.

• You were discharged from the military because of a disability (not preexisting).

• You are a former Prisoner of War.

• You received a Purple Heart Medal.

• You receive VA pension or disability benefits.

• You receive state Medicaid benefits.

In January 2008, Congress increased combat veteran benefits by extending the period of enhanced health care enrollment eligibility from two to five years post discharge for veterans who served in the theater of operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War or in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after Nov. 11, 1998.

Please see your local county veterans service officer if you have any questions. You can contact your local VSO at (218) 631-7617 or by e-mail at As always, have a great week.