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Health Insurance for Newly Discharged OEF/OIF Veterans


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Like most veteran benefits (GI Bill, VA loans, Health care) information about health care coverage from the VA is very vague and typically you're stuck gathering all the details yourself. I served 6 yrs from 2001-2007 and just last week found out that the VA will provide you coverage for 5 years AFTER you were discharged (and 180 days of dental coverage). For those of us that exited the military without any OBVIOUS health issues (or issues we failed to recognize or admit at the time) you can get FREE treatment from the VA for medical issues related to your service. The KICKER to this whole deal is that once you are in the VA system, you are pretty much eligible for treatment for any other ailments with co-pays that are around $15-20.

 

I went in and spoke with a case worker and she explained that if I was to get in a car accident, and let's say I fx'd my leg, that all I would need to do at the hospital (non VA) is have them call the VA BEFORE I received treatment and the VA would reimburse the non VA medical facility.

 

To get this started you can either fill out the online application at this link:

http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/

 

The processing of an online application can typically take up to 6 weeks or more. I found out that if you actually go to your local regional VA and fill out a paper application and bring your DD214 with you the processing time is cut down to days or even hours.

 

If you are unsure whether you qualify for health benefits fill out this online questionaire:

http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/Library/tools/Quick_Eligibility_Check/index.asp

 

At that point they will schedule you an Intake Appointment. After this you can seek treatment at VA satellite clinics, which will be more convenient for most of us since the regional VA offices may be quite a drive. Once you have your intake appointment, you can (if desired) speak to someone about VA disability compensation at your regional VA. This can be done in the same day (and remember not everyone will qualify for this so YMMV).

 

My best piece of advice for anyone who recently was discharged or are about to get discharged is get the ball rolling ASAP. I got out almost 4 years ago and JUST got signed up for this benefit so I am receiving about a year of benefits. I know that certain issues (such as PTSD) in combat units are not something most people would admit, but it took me 7 years from getting back from my first (of 2) combat deployments to seek assistance. The complexity and vagueness of the VA system didn't help the matter either.

 

Remember that you are not alone and that the military sucked you dry when you were in, so get all you can when you get out (that is without abusing the system)! Good luck to all you veterans on your path to the PA field!

 

****If anyone has any corrections or would like to add anything pls feel free. I am trying to relay my personal experience with the VA, so small details may slightly differ for others***

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