As a daughter and sister to veterans, and a social worker for many who have served in the military, I cannot express my gratitude enough to those who have given their lives to the continued freedom of our country. Also, I want to acknowledge all of the families of veterans for your love and support; for you all are what gives your veteran strength.
I’ve written this article specifically for veterans and their families struggling to pay for their healthcare or funeral arrangements- you may be eligible for veterans benefits provided by the Veterans Administration.
Planning ahead and knowing what benefits a veteran may qualify for in the future can be half the battle when looking for assistance. A veteran may qualify for medical benefits, medications, home care, respite, nursing home care, and hospice. Check out the VA’s Guide to Long Term Care to learn more. Each of these benefits has its own guidelines and may depend on when and where the veteran served, if the veteran was active duty, if he or she saw combat, if the veteran sustained a condition related to their service, and how they were discharged.
Also, it is important to remember that veterans may be entitled to some funeral-related benefits, including the VA Burial Benefit. This benefit includes a burial in a Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery, a government furnished head stone, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Private Cemetery benefits are also available. Other benefits may include military funeral honors, burial flags, and a burial allowance. Ask your funeral director about potential benefits that are available to you. The funeral home, your family, and the VA can collaborate to come up with a funeral plan and service that best meets your needs.
Benefits for Surviving Dependents of a Veteran
If you have lost your beloved veteran, there are benefits for the surviving dependents of a veteran including healthcare, dependency and indemnity compensation, aid and attendance and housebound benefits, life insurance, death pension, educational assistance, VA home loans, VA burials, memorial benefits for survivors, and bereavement counseling. Similar to veteran benefits, there are certain criteria to qualify for these benefits based on similar guidelines outlined for veteran benefits. Click here to view the Office of Survivors Assistance Guide for more information about eligibility and benefits.
Benefits for Caregivers of a Veteran
If you are a caregiver of a veteran, the VA has an extensive support program for you. VA Caregiver Support connects caregivers with adult day care centers, home-based primary care, skilled home care, homemaker and home health aides, home telehealth, respite care and home hospice care. Their website also includes tip sheets, helpful checklists, and tools to help you stay organized. They also have an online Caregiver Connections Community where you can connect with other caregivers for tips, education, and strength. Check out the VA Caregiver Support website for more information.
Applying for Benefits
The benefits application process can be difficult so it is important to plan ahead and acquire all of the necessary paperwork including the veteran’s discharge papers (which can be requested if you cannot find them). Additionally, it may be beneficial to meet with your local VA Representative so that they can inform you of all the various programs that may be available. You can find the nearest VA Office or facility here, and you can start this process by enrolling in the VA online. While the process can be challenging, I encourage you to take advantage of the benefits that you have earned for protecting our country.
For further information about all VA Benefits, please visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
eFuneral provides helpful information and support to those thinking about end-of-life.Get Started