By: Cajun Comeau, Department of North Carolina Service Officer
Q: Are there VA benefits that I may not know about?
A: Many veterans know about the basic health-care and education benefits available to them through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but the following are other ancillary benefit programs.
Aid and Attendance: Through the Aid and Attendance program, veterans may be eligible to receive money to cover the cost of nursing homes, assisted living programs and other long-term care options. Couples may receive up to $25,000 and surviving spouses up to $13,560 a year to cover their long-term care costs.
Burial benefits: A U.S. flag may be requested to drape over a veteran’s casket and families may request a Presidential Memorial Certificate to honor the deceased loved one’s service. VA also provides a free headstone or grave marker.
GI Bill: The GI Bill offers up to $2,000 to help cover the cost of certification courses or other vocational training programs. This benefit works well for veterans who wish to change careers or pursue a career path that does not require a college degree. Unused credits through the GI Bill may be transferred to spouses and dependents of veterans, although there are service limits required to transfer the benefits.
Life insurance: Veterans may receive up to $400,000 in life insurance through Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program, which offers competitive premium rates.
Housing assistance: Veterans having trouble making their mortgage payments are eligible for repayment assistance through the VA. Options for help include special repayment plans, loan forbearance and loan modification programs. Additional benefits are available for homeless veterans and veterans with VA loans. The VA maintains a list of homes serviced by VA loans that have gone into foreclosures, and veterans have the ability to search the list of VA-acquired properties and purchase homes at a discount. You do not have to be a veteran to search the properties, but all properties qualify for VA financing.
Contact a Legion service officer at www.legion.org/serviceofficers to assist with VA benefit claims.