Signing up for the United States Military is a decision many Americans make at a very early age. To show their appreciation and ensure our 17-million veterans have the resources they need once service ends, the U.S. has developed different departments of veteran affairs.
Services to our nation’s veterans date back to 1626. However, it wasn’t until 1921 that the Department of Veterans Affairs, as we know it today, began to take shape.
The military offers veterans the support needed to purchase homes, attend college, and receive the best health care. The VA goes beyond these popular programs to assist veterans and their families accessing programs and services.
If you’re a veteran or the caregiver of a veteran, you may be wondering what the different departments are and how to get suitable sources. Figuring out which office to contact as a veteran can be challenging for some individuals. We’re here to help with this guide to the different departments of Veteran Affairs.
Three Main Departments of Veteran Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers limitless resources and a number of benefits to our nation’s vets. Three central departments oversee these resources and services. Plus, there are countless non-profit organizations around the country ready to step in and ensure veterans have the services they need.
- Veterans Health Administration
- Veterans Benefits Administration
- National Cemetery Administration
Aside from these three departments, you also have:
- Veterans Affairs Leadership
- Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
- Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs
Veterans Affairs leadership are political appointments made by the sitting president and confirmed by Congress. The Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs is in charge of communications and marketing. Meanwhile, the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs is the communication pipeline between Congress and offices in the VA.
Veterans Health Administration
The Veterans Health Administration has a wide array of responsibilities. This Veteran Affairs department assures veterans access to:
- Mental Health Services
- Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services
- Physical Therapy
Hospitals and clinics across the country provide the best and latest medical care at almost 1300 healthcare facilities.
- 171 medical centers
- 1,113 outpatient sites
In addition to these services, the Department of Veterans Affairs assures adequate access to inpatient and outpatient facilities. Veterans also receive prescription drugs from verified VA providers and long-term care at designated facilities.
There are specific requirements to be eligible for veterans’ health care benefits. Benefits based on enlistment after September 7, 1980, require that you served your entire active-duty assignment. Or, at a minimum, served 24 months of consecutive service.
A dishonorable discharge could work against you. However, early discharge due to a disability or hardship is acceptable. Enlistment before September 7, 1980, does not have the same time in service requirements.
Contact the VA at 877-222-8387 to verify your eligibility and any additional requirements. They have more information on receiving your healthcare benefits.
Veterans Benefits Administration
The Veterans Benefits Administration is one of several offices in the VA. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that veterans receive the benefits allotted to them. These benefits include but are not limited to:
- Disability Compensation
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
- Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)
- Special Circumstances
- GI Bill
- Training Programs
- Veterans Readiness & Employment
- Career Counseling
- CareerScope Assessment
- Small Business Support
- VA Transition Assistance
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Mortgage Protection
- Financial Counseling and Online Wills
- Accelerated Benefits
- Loan Guaranty
- Purchase Loan
- Native American Direct Loan (NADL)
- Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL)
- Cash-out refinance loan
- Pension and Fiduciary Duties of the VA
- Veteran Pensions
- Spouse Pensions
There are four base levels of compensation a veteran, injured during active duty, or their widow and dependant children can apply to receive. The benefits provide monthly compensation for the loss of income due to the veteran’s death or debilitating injury during active service.
Under the GI Bill, qualifying veterans and family members have the funds to earn a college degree. They can also enroll in training programs to learn new skills and receive certifications.
Offices in the VA are committed to providing veterans with the tools and support needed to become gainfully employed. Whether it’s career counseling or starting a new business, if you need help with career opportunities, they can help.
The VA provides veterans with several life insurance options to ensure their spouses and dependant children are cared for after passing. These benefits may also extend to active-duty servicemen and women.
Purchase a Home
The U.S. Military makes it easier for veterans and their surviving spouses to purchase a new home or refinance an existing residence. VA loans are backed by the government and offer low-interest rates.
Employers pay into a fund with corporate pensions, and employees can collect benefits when they reach retirement age.
The VA pensions operate differently. The funds are only available to veterans or their spouses when there is a financial need.
Call MyVA311: 844-698-2311 TTY: 711 to gain more information on benefits you believe you are entitled to receive. They can also direct you to a regional office near your location.
National Cemetery Administration
The National Cemetery Administration oversees burial benefits for eligible veterans. They assist with the burial needs of the veteran and their spouse and dependants at National cemeteries.
If you require assistance with the burial of a loved one, they can help with:
- Available Plots
- Burial Eligibility
- Committal Service
- Opening/closing a Grave
- Headstones, Markers, Flags
- Presidential Medallion
- Pre-need Planning
- Record Storage
Services provided by a funeral home are at the expense of the family or person making the arrangements.
You can contact the NCA at the MyVA411 main information line:
Don’t Let Your Benefits Go Unused
The Department of Veterans Affairs is essential to the lives of our vest and their families. If you require services, contact your local VA office. There are various departments of veteran affairs located around the country.
To find VA locations near you, click here.
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