VA Benefits

Although the VA system can be complicated to navigate, it offers countless resources for active military and veterans alike. Knowing the benefits and services offered by the VA can open many doors for military personnel and their families. This guide covers the most important benefits offered by the VA.

If you are a veteran or active member of the military, you are eligible for a range of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). From housing assistance to education, many perks and resources come with serving your country and fulfilling your duties as a member of the armed forces.

As with many government services, navigating the VA system can often be a complex and stressful endeavor. Even so, it’s important to know what benefits you and your dependents may qualify for—and the steps you should take to get them.

Knowing about the numerous VA benefits at your disposal will allow you and your loved ones to enjoy the most of what the military can offer.

While one list cannot cover everything you need to know about VA benefits, the following information will guide you as you explore your options.

What are VA benefits?

“VA benefits” is an umbrella term used to designate the various social, financial and medical resources that members of the military, their families and other related individuals can receive.

To receive VA benefits, you must currently serve or have previously served in one of the six branches of the military (the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force or Space Force).

While many benefits exist across a wide range of social and public services, the most popular options that veterans may qualify for include:

  • Education and professional training
  • Health care and medical services
  • Housing assistance
  • Loans and financial support
  • Life insurance policies
  • Disability services
  • Pension
  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Employment
  • Small-business resources
  • Support services for dependents

If you’re an active member of the military or have served in the past, you should know what types of programs you and your dependents are eligible for so you don’t miss out on any opportunities.

Education and Professional Training

Eligible service members have many educational and training opportunities at their disposal. If you are a veteran interested in pursuing higher education or vocational training outside of the military, you are most likely eligible for some type of VA benefit or relief.

The VA has programs designed to help veterans and their dependents pay for tuition costs, enrollment fees, books and other materials to fulfill their educational goals.

Depending on your status and background as a member of the military, there are four main education assistance programs that you might be eligible for:

The GI Bill typically covers tuition and living expenses for veterans and their dependents who are pursuing higher education or training.

The REAP program offers financial support for members of the military reserves who want to pursue higher education or training.

Which of these you select will largely depend on your eligibility.

Health Care and Medical Services

If you served in the military and did not receive a dishonorable discharge, you are eligible for the many health care benefits provided by the VA:

  • Hospital and outpatient care
  • Dental care
  • Prosthetics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Nursing home and residential care
  • Regular checkups
  • Mental health treatment and counseling
  • Alcohol and drug dependency programs
  • Preventative care

All veterans can receive primary health care services provided by the VA. However, there are a select few benefits, including dental care and specialized treatment, that only cover certain individuals. Your overall coverage will depend on the following:

  • Your medical priority
  • Recommendations from your primary care provider
  • Medical standards specific to your health conditions

When you sign up for VA health care, staff will review your needs and determine your eligibility.

Housing and Loans

Another VA benefit that many veterans and active-duty personnel take advantage of is the VA home loan program. The VA offers several housing loans with friendly terms such as no down payments and accessible interest rates:

  • Refinancing loans
  • Guaranteed loans
  • Disability housing grants

Guaranteed loans from the VA offer an accessible way for veterans to purchase a home or a lot. Additionally, these loans can assist in costs for repairing, upgrading and building a home.

The VA also provides grants for severely disabled veterans who require special housing and care, as well as advice and support for veterans who are struggling to pay their mortgages.

Many life insurance and disability benefits exist for veterans, service members and their family members.

Much like other VA services, your eligibility depends on your unique situation. Depending on your age and career position, you’ll have different needs.

Below are some of the most common life insurance policies that the VA offers:

These policies all offer affordable benefits and can provide excellent financial security for you and your family. It’s just a matter of determining which option best suits you.

The VA offers a monthly pension program to certain veterans who qualify.

Aside from meeting certain service time requirements, including when you began your military service and whether you served in a war, two important eligibility requirements will determine whether you can receive a pension:

  • Your income and net worth cannot exceed certain limits.
  • You must be at least 65 years old or be permanently disabled.

You must also not have received a dishonorable discharge. If you have, the military will revoke your pension eligibility.

The VA provides its members with affordable services and flexible bereavement options.

Some of the burial benefits you may be eligible for include:

  • Burial allowance for paying for your funeral, burial and any associated costs
  • Headstone benefits to provide you with an inscribed grave marker
  • Bereavement counseling for your family and loved ones
  • Cemetery plot in a military cemetery for you and your dependents
  • Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC), flags and other memorial items

You can learn more about your burial benefits by applying for a “pre-need eligibility determination letter.”

Are you thinking about leaving your military career and working in the civilian sector? The VA has several employment programs that can assist you with training, career counseling and job searching.

The VA regularly sponsors job fairs for veterans and partners with businesses around the country that specialize in employing those who have served in the military.

Most jurisdictions have a local VA office that can assist veterans in finding civilian work opportunities. Some companies even reserve positions exclusively for veterans.

If you’re thinking about transitioning to civilian life, the VA can be an excellent resource for any job-related assistance you require.

Veterans who decide to open a small business can often benefit from VA resources, assistance and relief.

Some of these services offered by the VA include:

  • Priority for government contracts
  • Tax breaks
  • Access to capital
  • Training and education
  • Assistance in building business partnerships

The VA business support at your disposal is wide, and your options will depend on how it can support your specific entrepreneurial endeavors.

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Assistance and Resources for Dependents

The VA honors the survivors of veterans with programs that can assist in certain situations. The most common ones include:

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for the children and spouses of service members who lose their lives during military service or suffer from a service-related disability
  • Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA), which covers and reimburses the cost of medical bills for any beneficiaries
  • Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA), which covers certain education costs for dependents of service members who pass away due to any service-related reasons

Additionally, the VA offers many pension and insurance policies designed to benefit spouses and dependents in the event of death or disability.

The Importance of Knowing the VA System

The aim of the Department of Veterans Affairs is to give military personnel resources, opportunities and extra support for life during and after military service.

Although there are countless benefits to take advantage of, navigating the VA system can be stressful. Don’t let this deter you from doing the research you need to make the most out of VA benefits.

If you are an active member of the armed forces or a veteran who served, knowing what VA benefits you qualify for and how to apply for them can open up many opportunities for you and your loved ones.

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