I'm a firm believer in starting from scratch. Although easier to jump around in search of an answer, understanding the BIG picture makes the puzzle come together. Let's talk about the Veterans Administration also referred to as the VA. Here we will dive into VA 101 to include the beginnings of the agency, growth, and how you can apply for care.
The VA once called The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, has provided services and care since 1636. Yes, the time of the Pilgrims! The Pilgrims passed a law that it was the Colony's responsibility to care for disabled soldiers.
Fast forward to 1776 when the Continental Congress encouraged enlistments in the Revolutionary War providing pensions to disabled soldiers. 1811 rolled around and the government authorized the first official domiciliary and medical facility for Veterans. The 19th century brought about expansion of benefits to not only Veterans but their widows and orphans.
By the 1920s, three different federal agencies administered the various benefits: the Veterans Bureau, the Bureau of Pensions of the Interior Department, and the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. In 1924, Veterans benefits were liberalized to cover disabilities that were not service-related. In 1928, admission to the National Homes was extended to women, National Guard and militia Veterans. To better meet the needs of all Veterans, the Veterans Administration divided into three different groups - Veterans Health Administration, Veterans Benefits Administration and the National Cemetery Administration. The three pronged structure remains in place today. To learn more about each of the three groups and their individual histories, visit VA History Overview.
Key Fact: Veterans must enroll/register in each "group" individually. If you enroll in VHA (Healthcare) you are not automatically enrolled in Veterans Benefits Administration or the National Cemetery Administration. To learn more about enrollment and see if you qualify for healthcare benefits, visit https://www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/. Veterans can apply online by clicking here, by telephone by calling our toll-free hotline at 877-222-8387, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET to get help with your application, complete a paper application VA form 10-10EZ (download below) and mail to Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Rd., Suite 200 Atlanta, GA 30329
or enroll in person with the Georgia Department of Veteran Services. Click here to learn more and search a location near you.
The GDVS professionals will NOT charge you to assist with your enrollment.
Takeaway: There are multiple options for enrolling in VA health and benefits. Veterans, DO NOT pay someone to assist you in enrollment or with claims. If you need assistance locating someone to help you or have questions, please feel free to give us a call and we will direct you to one of our trusted partners.