While many people are aware that military veterans may receive benefits, defining what those benefits happen to be and how one can qualify to receive them is more complex. The good news is that most veterans have access to a wide range of benefits. By spending time researching those benefits and how to go about claiming them, it’s possible to receive financial and medical support that helps to make life a little easier. Here are some of the basics that you should know about veteran care and housing benefits, and how you go about applying for and receiving them.
How Does the Federal Government Define a Veteran?
It’s good to begin with the official definition of veteran as defined by the United States federal government. The definition is found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The legal definition found in Title 38 reads as follows:
“a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”
This means that individuals who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or the Coast Guard and received an honorable discharge can rightly be referred to as a veteran. It’s not limited to those who were activated or who served in a war zone. All members of the military who served and ultimately left the military under honorable circumstances are veterans. That’s important to remember, since it does provide the foundation for getting benefits.
The Different Types of Military Service
There is more than one type of service that may apply. The one that most people think of is known as full-time or active duty. Military members who fall into this category may be called to serve any time of the day or night. The only exceptions are active duty military who are on an authorized leave or who have received permission for what’s known as a pass (authorized time off.) Serving as active duty for certain amounts of time does impact the ability to receive certain veteran benefits.
There’s also the part-time military who typically serve a minimum of one weekend per month. They also usually serve two full weeks of training per calendar year. Think of those who serve as part of the Reserves or who are members of the National Guard. Part-time status is usually not enough alone to qualify for many types of benefits. However, part-time military service can be called into active duty for extended periods of time. Should the amount of time spent as ADT reach a certain level, a broader range of benefits may be available. There are different provisions that would apply for National Guard members versus Reserve members.
What Sorts of Benefits are Available to Veterans?
There are a number of benefits available to veterans who meet specific qualifications. What follows is a general list of benefits that generally apply to those who served as active duty for a minimum number of years. In some cases, those who were part-time might accrue enough full-time duty to qualify for some of these benefits:
- Counseling: Veterans who are in need of counseling as the result of performing their duties or undergoing some sort of trauma in their lives may be able to see a qualified therapist or counselor for either minimal charges or for no charge at all.
- Housing and home loan benefits: In this scenario, the focus is on aiding veterans in securing housing that provides a safe place to live. The benefits may focus on helping the vet to cover the costs of purchasing a home or obtaining financing for buying a residential property. There may also be support that makes it possible to help a veteran lease an apartment or house.
- Job Training: Along with skills and education that are obtained while in the service, veterans may qualify for ongoing education that has to do with entering a particular trade or career path. The training may take place at a training facility, a community college, a technical school, or a university. In some cases, the benefits may also apply for someone who is entering an apprenticeship.
- Small Business Financing: A veteran who starts or buys a small business may qualify for benefits that help the operation to expand or gain a toehold in the business world. The benefits may be in the form of start-up loans or capital for expansion. These types of financing would be overseen by the Small Business Administration.
- Access to Medical Care: General medical care may be offered through facilities that operate especially for military personnel, either active duty or those who are honorably discharged. That includes clinics, doctor’s offices, dental services, and other forms of basic medical care. There are also benefits that relate to treating ongoing ailments or severe injuries. Those typically involve treatment at a hospital or medical center operated by the Veteran’s Administration.
- Disability Compensation: In the event that the veteran is disabled, there’s the possibility of receiving ongoing compensation. This helps to provide a measure of financial stability. When bundled with other sources of disability support, the result is that the vet has a better chance of receiving enough income to enjoy a decent standard of living.
- Pensions: Veterans who qualify based on the type and duration of service may receive pensions. As with other forms of compensation, the military pension provides a measure of financial security that can come in handy.
Do All Veterans Get Benefits?
Not all veterans are eligible for various benefits. The group that is most likely to qualify for the widest range of benefits are those who served full-time and successfully fulfilled their commitment to the military. That includes receiving an honorable discharge.
One example of veterans benefits eligibility that illustrates vets who are not likely to qualify for some or all benefits are those who served part-time. This would include those who served in the National Guard or the Reserves. While it’s true that they do have short periods of active-duty time, those are typical during training and are not sufficient to qualify. An exception would be if those part-time members were activated by the federal government and served full-time for the minimum required.
Veterans who are dishonorably discharged typically lose access to all or most types of benefits. This would be true for full-time or active duty military as well as part-time military who would have otherwise served enough full time to qualify.
How to Apply for Veterans Benefits?
There are multiple ways to go about applying for different types of veteran benefits. A lot depends on the type of benefit you’re seeking. In general, it’s possible to submit applications in person at most VA locations. Many benefits can be sought by submitting applications online. There is always an option to fill out applications and submit them by post.
For example, suppose that you’re seeking to receive what’s known as veterans aid and attendance benefit. This benefit is for full-time veterans who served a minimum of 90 consecutive days of active duty, with at least one full day of that duty taking place during wartime. The applicant must also qualify for a basic pension and meet other financial and clinical requirements. This type of benefit can be applied for using VA Form 21-2680 and mailing the completed form to the nearest pension management center. You can also apply in person at the nearest Veterans Regional Office.
It can be confusing to navigate through the multiplicity of forms and documentation needed to apply for the available benefits. One way to simplify the process is to work through a partner who can provide help with exploring qualifications and applying for aid and attendance benefits. For example, the Talem Home Care partners with the VetAssist® Program to aid in this process without any cost to the veteran. This assistance with the application process can save a lot of time and also help you identify benefits that would otherwise be overlooked.
Benefits for the Children of Veterans
Children of veterans may be eligible to receive several types of benefits. This includes benefits related to education, healthcare, and job training. If the vet is deceased, the offspring may be able to claim benefits that help with burial expenses and also claim what’s known as a survivor pension. There are also some benefits related to aiding with housing expenses.
Do veterans’ widows get benefits?
Surviving spouses of deceased vets also qualify for the same benefits that the children may get. That includes access to a monthly pension. Help with burial expenses, job training costs, and helping to offset the cost of affordable housing may also be available for the surviving spouse.
Whether you’re a veteran who is curious about what sort of benefits are available, or if you’re the surviving spouse or child of a vet, it pays to find out what kind of support you’re entitled to receive. Rather than trying to wade through all the red tape and find the information that you need, contact the Talem Home Care Milwaukee at (414) 404-9600 and get help from someone who knows how to evaluate your qualifications and provide aid in submitting the applications. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many benefits are yours if you only take the time to apply.