Health care benefits for U.S. veterans

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 extends the period of eligibility for health care for veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998.

Under the "Combat Veteran" authority, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides cost-free health care services for qualifying veterans whose military service resulted in injury or other medical conditions.

Combat veterans who were discharged or released from active service on or after Jan. 28, 2003, are now eligible to enroll in the VA health care system for five years from the date of discharge or release. The five-year enrollment period begins on the discharge or separation date of the service member from active duty military service, or in the case of multiple call-ups, the most recent discharge date.

Combat veterans who were discharged from active duty before Jan. 28, 2003, but who did not enroll in VA health care system now have three years to enroll and receive care as combat veterans. This period of enhanced eligibility began Jan. 28, 2008, and expired Jan. 27, 2011.

Veterans, including activated Reservists and members of the National Guard, are eligible if they served on active duty in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998, and have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

SOURCE: Department of Veterans Affairs

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