Veteran Benefits and Resources in Utah
More than 151,000 veterans live in the state of Utah, and their honorable service to the nation has made them eligible for a long list of benefits and services that can benefit their health, budgets, and families. Knowing how and where to start with your benefits may seem challenging; thankfully, the state of Utah has numerous resources in place to assist veterans make the most of their hard-earned benefits.
If you are just getting started accessing your state and national benefits, or need assistance in filing or following up on a claim, a great place to start is with your nearest Veteran Service Officer (VSO) and Outreach Representative. Supported by the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, these trained experts are responsible for traveling within their region of the state to host special events and workshops, as well as meet with veterans to assist them with their claims and questions. The outreach program divides the state up into four regions: Northern Utah, Salt Lake Metro, Central Utah, and Southern Utah; each region has several VSO offices, as well as a regional VSO contact. Additionally, the state established a special outreach program for the more than 56,000 Utah servicemembers that have participated in ongoing current conflict. The OIF-OEF Veteran outreach program addresses the unique challenges and needs of these veterans as the reintegrate into civilian life.
Accessing quality health care is always a top concern for veterans and their families, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains its VA Salt Lake City Health Care System based out of Salt Lake City, with its George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. This center is a 121-bed facility offering primary care, tertiary care, and long-term care in areas of medicine, surgery, psychiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neurology, oncology, dentistry, and geriatrics. Additionally, Utah Veterans can find outpatient care at the Moab VA Teleheath Clinic, as well as six community-based outpatient clinics spread through the state. As with all VA clinics, you can use the facility’s website to schedule and change appointments, check on enrollment and eligibility, and learn more about the billing process.
Utah veterans looking to enjoy the state’s many outdoor resources and recreation activities may be eligible for discounted rates and fees. For example, Utah veterans with a service-related disability rating of 20% of more may be eligible to receive a discounted fishing license. Additionally, the Division of Utah State Parks and Recreation offers a free Honor Pass to qualified veterans who are Utah residents and who were honorably discharged, and have a service-related disability rating of 50% or greater. The Honor Pass is valid for day use admittance only to all state parks for the qualified veteran and up to 7 guests in the same private vehicle. There are some restrictions and the pass must be reapplied for each year. Veterans need only to provide a current VA Summary of Benefits letter in order to obtain the Honor Pass at locations across Utah.
Utah senior veterans looking for longterm housing and care options have four quality options in the State Veterans Homes. These homes – located in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Payson, and Ivins – all carry a 5-star CMS rating and offer a range of health care, rehabilitation services, activities, and social events for residents. While wartime service is not a requirement for admission to the homes, wartime Veterans with one day or more of wartime service, as recognized by state and federal laws, do have a priority. A Veteran’s spouse or surviving spouse may also be eligible for admission to the Utah State Veterans Homes, as well as Gold Star parents. In state-owned veterans homes, the VA pays for nearly one half the cost of care for the resident. In certain instances of service-connected disabilities, 100% of the cost of care is paid.
A veteran’s honorable service to his or her country earns full honors at the time of death at no cost to his or her family, including burial, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Some veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Utah is home to the Utah Veterans Memorial Cemetery and Memorial Park, a stae-funded cemetery located just north of Camp Williams in Bluffdale, offering a beautiful panoramic view of the Wasatch Mountains. The park pays tribute as an honored burial ground to veterans, their spouses, and dependent children, while also serving as an appropriate venue for memorial services, funerals, meditation, and other veteran memorial-related events. There is no fee for veteran burials in the cemetery, and a small fee for spouses or dependents. Other amenities include a five-story, 150-seat chapel, a Special Forces Monument, a World War II Submarine Service Monument, and a Wall of Honor. For more information, you can contact the office at (801) 254-9036.
Utah Veterans Benefit for Assisted Living
The Aid and Attendance pension benefit is available to Utah senior veterans and their spouses to help pay for senior care like assisted living, home care, or nursing home care. Here is more information on how the Aid and Attendance benefit helps Utah veterans.
Written by Megan Hammons