Discharge status is key to VA benefits
What is the general eligibility for Veterans Affairs benefits?
Answer: Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions.
Active service means full-time service, other than active duty for training, as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, Environmental Science Services Administration or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or its predecessor, the Coast and Geodetic Survey.
A veteran is someone who has served in the armed forces and has an honorable discharge; a common misconception is that one has either been in combat and/or is retired from active duty to be called a veteran.
Dishonorable and bad conduct discharges may bar VA benefits. Veterans in prison and parolees must contact a VA regional office to determine eligibility. VA benefits will not be provided to any veteran or dependent wanted for an outstanding felony warrant.
For information on eligibility for VA benefits, contact the Honolulu VA at (800) 827-1000, or for health care benefits at the VA Medical Center, at 433-0600.
I hear the term "seamless transition" used a lot. How does it work?
A: To assist wounded military members and their families, the VA has placed workers at key military hospitals where severely injured servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan are frequently sent. These include benefit counselors who help the servicemember obtain VA services as well as social workers who facilitate health care coordination and discharge planning as servicemembers transition from the military to VA care.
Here in Hawaii, VA staff work closely with Tripler Army Medical Center to assist our wounded servicemembers where needed.
If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.