Veteran Benefits and Resources for Virginia
With a military heritage that is hundreds of years old, men and women of Virginia have a strong tie to the U.S. Armed Forces. Today, more than 783,000 veterans call Virginia home, and their service to the nation has earned them a long list of benefits and services. Knowing how and where to access these benefits, however, can be a bit daunting.
If you are just beginning to explore your benefits, or need assistance submitting or following up on a claim, the Virginia Department of Veteran Services (DVS) offers several resources, including a network of 30 benefit service offices spread throughout the state. These offices provide trained experts to assist veterans with claims, connect them to earned benefits and services, and deliver information on current federal, state, and local veterans’ programs, entitlements, and referral services – all for free.
Additionally, the DVS supports the Virginia Veteran and Family Support (VVFS) program (formerly the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program) that provides services with a special emphasis on Virginia veterans, reservists, and their families affected by stress-related conditions or service-connected traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The program divides the state into four regions and organizes a panel of Community Service Boards, brain injury services providers, and other public and private services providers in that region. Services include assessment of individual and family needs, linkage to regional service providers and care, and extensive networks of peer and family support groups.
Accessing quality health care is always a top priority for veterans and their family members, and Virginia is home to three large U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) medical centers in Hampton, Richmond, and Salem. These facilities offer a wide range of comprehensive primary and specialty care in medicine, surgery, and psychiatry care, along with numerous specialized programs for caregivers, returning veterans, female veterans, and veterans facing homelessness. You can use their websites to check your eligibility, schedule and change appointments, and learn more about the billing process. Virginia veterans and their families can also access primary care and mental health services at the Bristol Outpatient Clinic, or at the 18 community-based outpatient clinics spread throughout the state. These clinics work closely with the larger medical clinics when referrals are needed.
Veterans looking to enjoy the natural resources and recreation opportunities available in Virginia may be eligible for numerous discounts and reduced fees at state parks. For example, The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) offers a number of discounted licenses for disabled military personnel and veterans, including a free lifetime hunting and fishing license, and a discounted saltwater license for Virginia resident veterans who are totally and permanently service-connected disabled. Additionally, all veterans, even non-residents, with a permanent 70% and greater service-connected disability ranking may also be eligible for discounted hunting, fishing, and saltwater licenses. Application forms can be downloaded from the VDGIF website.
Senior veterans looking for affordable, long-term housing and care options in Virginia have several options supported by the Virginia DVS, including two current locations in Richmond and Roanoke, and two new facilities opening in late 2019 in Fauquier County and Virginia Beach. Each first-class facility is designed to enhance quality of life with a clean, caring, and dignified setting, providing comprehensive, high-quality health care, lifestyle amenities, rehabilitative services, and recreational and social activities. Eligibility requirements for admission include that the veteran has an honorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces, is a Virginia resident at the time of admission, or had entry into the Armed Forces from Virginia, and is in medical need of nursing home-level care. The facilities accept payment from private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid, and most veterans also qualify for the VA per diem facility credit. Application forms, as well as a list of required documents, is available on the facilities’ websites.
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. Virginia is home to three veterans cemeteries that provide a final resting place for the state’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. The Virginia Veterans Cemetery is located in Amelia, the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery is located in Suffolk, and the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery is located in Dublin. All cemeteries accommodate in-ground burial of casketed remains, in-ground inurnment of cremated remains, and above-ground inurnment of cremated remains in a columbarium. Most basic burial benefits are free to eligible veterans, and for a small fee for spouses and dependents. Additionally, Virginia is home to 15 national veteran cemeteries – although all but two are close to new interments – and one of the nation’s top war memorials in the Virginia War Memorial. The memorial hosts regular patriotic events, educational seminars, historical museum exhibits, a research library and virtual reality film, first-person historical documentary videos, and customized tours for schools and other groups.
Virginia Veterans Benefit for Assisted Living
The Aid and Attendance pension benefit is available to Virginia 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 Virginia veterans.
Written by Megan Hammons