For Your Benefit
For and about Hawaii's military

See also: In The Military

Combat veterans eligible
for 2 years of health care

Question: A friend of mine told me about a program the Department of Veterans Affairs is offering for combat veterans that involves free health care. Can you provide more details?

Answer: Military personnel who recently served in a combat zone are eligible for two years of free medical care from the VA for most conditions.

Veterans must prove that a medical problem is connected to their military service, or they must have relatively low incomes.

Since Nov. 11, 1998, the VA has been authorized to provide free medical care for some veterans within two years after leaving active duty. Those veterans must have served in a combat zone or in comparable hostilities. They don't have to prove either service-connection for the disability for which they are seeking treatment or that they have low incomes.

The benefit does not cover treatment for medical problems clearly unrelated to military service, such as care for common colds, injuries from accidents that happened after discharge from active duty and disorders that existed before joining the military.

To receive free medical care, veterans must be able to show that they served since Nov. 11, 1998, in a theater of combat operations or in combat against a hostile force.

The coverage lasts for two years after discharge from active duty and applies to VA hospital care, outpatient services and nursing home care. National Guard and reserve personnel, in most cases, are eligible. After two years, these veterans will be subject to the same eligibility and enrollment rules as other veterans. For more information, call 433-1000 for benefits and services, or 433-0600 for medical appointments and enrollment questions.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran,
call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.

Gregg K. Kakesako, who covers military affairs for the Star-Bulletin,
can be reached by phone at 294-4075
or by e-mail at

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