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Federal Benefits for United States Military Veterans

Paul is a United States veteran. He served in the navy from 1967–1973 and has already used some Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.

If you're an honorably discharged veteran of the US military, you're entitled to certain federal benefits.

If you're an honorably discharged veteran of the US military, you're entitled to certain federal benefits.

Veterans of the United States armed forces with anything other than a dishonorable discharge are eligible for a broad range of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and services. The dependents and survivors of veterans are also eligible for benefits; however, they are not addressed in this article.

I was on active duty with the Navy from 1967–1971. Since my honorable discharge, I have used several VA benefits and services. I plan to use more of them soon once I return to the United States.

In this article, I first discuss the VA benefits and services that I have already used. I then describe other benefits and services that I plan to use and many others that are available to certain veterans.

Federal Benefits and Services Discussed in This Article

  • Transition From Military to Civilian Life Benefits and Services
  • Education and Training Benefits
  • Home Loan Guaranty Benefits
  • Health Care Benefits
  • Burial and Memorial Benefits
  • VA Pensions
  • Disability Compensation
Veteran Benefits Handbook

Veteran Benefits Handbook

Transition From Military to Civilian Life Benefits and Services

When I transitioned from military to civilian life at the end of 1970, the VA offered fewer available benefits and services than it does today. Although the navy tried to get me to reenlist, there was no transition assistance program (TAP) available.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (the "Act") made the TAP, including attendance at VA Benefits Briefings, mandatory for most servicemembers transitioning to civilian status.

The Act permits servicemembers to start the federal employment process before separation or retirement. Therefore, there is a seamless transition from the military to jobs at the VA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies that frequently hire veterans.

The Act provides almost 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to one year of assistance (equal to the full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty Program) to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors.

The Act also requires the Department of Labor to take a hard look at military skills and training equivalencies that are transferrable to the civilian sector and make it easier to get licenses and certificates.

Veterans who do not begin civilian employment after separation from military service may receive weekly unemployment compensation for a limited time. After I got a six-month early out from the navy in 1971, I received a limited amount of unemployment compensation from the State of Wisconsin even though I applied for it more than five months after I was separated.

Veterans are also given preference for federal jobs. By law, veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty during specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over others when hiring from competition lists. When I applied for a Department of Defense job in 1980, I was awarded five preference points.

Education and Training Benefits

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an education benefit for servicemembers and veterans who served on active duty after September 10, 2001. Benefits are payable for training pursued on or after August 1, 2009.

All active-duty servicemembers are eligible, and eligible veterans must have served at least 90 days on active duty after September 10, 2001, and been honorably discharged. Servicemembers and veterans can receive up to 36 months of entitlement. Eligibility expires 15 years from the last period of active duty.

Approved Training

  • Graduate and undergraduate degrees
  • Vocational/technical training
  • On-the-job training
  • Flight training
  • Correspondence training
  • Licensing and national testing programs
  • Tutorial assistance

Entitlement

  • Cost of in-state tuition and fees at public schools
  • Up to $19,198.31 toward cost at private and foreign schools (as of 2013–14 school year)
  • Monthly housing allowance
  • Yearly books and supplies stipend up to $1,000 per year

I used the Montgomery GI Bill for education benefits twice. The first time was during the period of 1972–73 when I studied Chinese language and literature as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin for three semesters and one summer session.

The second time was in 1980 when I was enrolled at the University of Toledo for two semesters and a summer session taking education courses and working toward a certification in secondary education. I remember the VA paying the school my tuition and sending me a $400 monthly check as a housing allowance.

Home Loan Guaranty Benefits

In 1983, I used the VA home loan guaranty benefit to purchase a home in Maryland. Much like today, the VA guaranteed the full repayment of my mortgage loan. I was also able to buy my home without a down payment.

The purpose of the VA home loan guaranty is to help veterans obtain homes, condominiums, manufactured homes, and refinance loans by guaranteeing repayment of the loan.

To be eligible for a home loan guaranty, a veteran must have a good credit rating, sufficient income, agree to live in the home, and have a VA certificate of eligibility to be approved by a lender for a VA home loan. No loan is guaranteed without a VA appraisal.

The veteran borrower pays for the VA appraisal and all closing costs. Closing costs include a credit report, loan-processing fee, title search, recording fees, transfer tax, survey charge, hazard insurance, and prepaid taxes. The veteran also pays a VA funding fee which can be included in the VA guaranteed loan.

The purchase price of my home was about $70,000. I received a loan for $70,000 that was guaranteed by the VA. My only out-of-pocket expenses were closing costs that came to about $2,500.

Veterans Health Benefits Handbook

Veterans Health Benefits Handbook

Health Care Benefits

Most honorably discharged veterans are eligible for a number of health care benefits through the VA.

Basic Eligibility

Anyone who served in the active military, naval, or air force—including qualifying reserve and national guard members—and received an honorable discharge may qualify for VA health care benefits.

Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or who entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty to be eligible.

Enrollment

For most veterans, entry into the VA health care system starts by applying for enrollment. Veterans can apply and submit their application (VA Form 1010EZ) on the VA website.

Veterans can also apply at any VA health care facility or VA regional office. I applied at a regional office and spoke with a representative. During my interview, I presented my DD-214, which is an armed forces of the United States report of transfer or discharge. I also answered questions about my address, income, and financial situation.

Priority Groups

Shortly after the interview, I was contacted by mail and assigned a priority group. The VA uses priority groups to balance the demand for VA health care enrollment with available resources.

Priority groups range from group one, the highest, to group eight, the lowest. Group one is for veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 50 percent or more and/or veterans determined by VA to be unemployable due to service-connected conditions.

Group eight is for veterans with gross household incomes above the VA national income threshold and the geographically-adjusted income threshold for their resident location and who agree to pay copayments.

I was assigned to group five. My medical services include preventive and inpatient care. The preventive care services include periodic medical exams, health and nutrition education, immunization, and genetic counseling. Inpatient care includes services such as medical, surgical, mental health, dialysis, and acute care.

In my group, five, the VA fills prescriptions written by a VA provider. A copay of $8 for every 30-day (or fewer) supply of medication is required. There are also other health benefits and coverage under certain conditions.

Burial and Memorial Benefits

Veterans with an honorable discharge from active duty and service members who die while on active duty are eligible for burial and memorial benefits. Also, spouses and dependent children may be eligible.

Burial in a VA national cemetery is available for eligible veterans, spouses, and dependents at no cost. This includes the gravesite, grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, a headstone or marker, and perpetual care as part of a national site.

For veterans, memorial benefits may also include a burial flag, a presidential memorial certificate, and military funeral honors provided by the Department of Defense.

One of my paternal uncles and his wife are buried in a VA national cemetery in Wisconsin.

VA Pensions

Low-income wartime veterans may qualify for a pension if they meet certain service, income, and net-worth limits set by law. There are also age and other restrictions.

Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is a monetary benefit paid to veterans who are determined by the VA to be disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service.

Resources and Further Reading

  • Federal Benefits for Veterans Dependents and Survivors, 2015 Supplemental, VA, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans Health Benefits Handbook, VA, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Education and Training
  • Home Loan Guaranty

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Paul Richard Kuehn

Comments

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 11, 2021:

Thanks for commenting! Yes, veterans deserve much more than what they are getting now.

MG Singh from UAE on April 11, 2021:

Very interesting article, the veterans deserve everything and much more.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 11, 2021:

Yes, Peggy, I can not complain about the VA benefits that I have used. I am looking forward to using the health benefits in the States.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 11, 2021:

Thank you very much for the great comment. My family and I are well? I hope you and your family are well.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 11, 2021:

It is good that members who serve in our military branches and who have honorable discharges are eligible for these benefits. Many benefits have been increased over the years.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 11, 2021:

Paul Kuehn You shared informative and interesting hubs. Your experiences are exciting and learning experiences from many walks of life. Hope you are well.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on April 10, 2021:

Thank you!

Peace Tobe Dike from Delta State, Nigeria. on April 10, 2021:

Insightful

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