Chicagoland is home to nearly 10 million people and is the nation’s third most populous metropolitan area. For those new to Chicago, or even longtime residents, the sheer size and number of residents in the city can be a bit overwhelming. The good news for veterans is that there are numerous organizations and city/state resources working to help veterans and their families access and benefit from the many resources their service has earned.
One of the top concerns for veterans and their families is accessing quality health care. The Jesse Brown VA Medical Center (JBVAMC), located at 820 S. Damen Ave. in Chicago, offers a variety of care services including geriatric and home-based care, women’s health programs, hospice care, and services that support family caregivers of veterans. The mental health services provided at the JBVAMC include psychiatry, substance-abuse programs, and treatment for confused thinking and memory issues. The Center also offers special support to former prisoners of war, and offer an advocate who can be reached at 312-569-6539.
Veterans and family members can determine their eligibility for services, as well as schedule or change an appointment online with the Center’s website. It’s important to note that veterans who have served in a combat zone get up to 5 years of free medical benefits under the “Combat Veteran” bill from the start of their discharge date. Additionally, returning veterans get 6 months of free dental after their date of separation. You can find out more by contacting the JBVAMC.
Right across the street from the JBVAMC, you’ll find the City of Chicago Veterans Resource Center, located at 2012 W. Ogden Ave. The office utilizes city, federal, state, county, and community based resources to provide appropriate and timely referral assistance to veterans and their families. From helping with VA casework, to offering computer access, connecting veterans with housing assistance, and helping in times of need – such as emergency good or extreme weather relief – the goal of the Center is to improve life for veterans and their families. The office is open 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Finding a peer community is also an important need for veterans, and those in Chicago can connect with other local veterans through Chicago Vets, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to make Chicago a “world-class city for veterans.” Founded in 2013 by a group of student-veterans, the organization today serves as a facilitator of events, training, support, employment opportunities, and networking. The organization recently opened its Vet Hub, a physical location where veterans can access job-building tools like Internet and copiers, meet with mentors to work on VA claims or other benefits, or just hang out with other veterans.
Senior veterans may be considering the need for assisted living options, and the state of Illinois runs four veterans homes, located in Anna, LaSalle, Manteno, and Quincy. Each provides long-term skilled care, quality nursing, and health care services to veterans with military service of one (1) day or more, as well as spouses, surviving spouses, and Gold Star parents. Emphasis is given to ensuring that each resident member is well cared for, has a full quality of life, and enjoys a caring, supportive environment. Monthly costs are based on income but are capped at $1,429 per month. The State of Illinois also runs the Prince Home at Manteno which offers a residential program for homeless and disabled veterans, helping them cope with Post Traumatic Stress, substance abuse, and other challenges. The State is currently working on a fifth veterans’ home, to be located on Oak Park in Chicago.
For more information on accessing the benefits your service has earned, visit the benefits page for Chicago veterans.
Written by Megan Hammons