Navigating the road to benefits, health care and other services offered by VA and the federal government can be difficult, frustrating and often confusing. Add that to the fact that each Veteran is different can increase the difficulty of trying to figure out what a person qualifies for or is eligible to receive.
Fortunately, VA has a product that covers it all in one easy-to-read reference – the 2013 Federal Benefits for Veterans Dependents and Survivors handbook. The 206-page book is inclusive to all Veterans and their family members despite their type of service or the era in which they served. From the Mexican Border War period beginning May 9, 1916 through today, the book offers information on education assistance, disability compensation, pension, home loan guaranty, vocational rehabilitation, life insurance, burial assistance as well as complete listing of VA facilities, addresses, phone numbers and important websites.
Need help adapting a car due to a service-connected disability? You can find that information on page 37. Having problems securing a loan to buy a home? Chapter 6, beginning on page 59, is dedicated to the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program. Read it, know it, and share it with your realtor.
For those still serving and not yet a Veteran, now is the time to read the book and prepare for your transition to civilian life. While Chapter 11 focuses on leaving active duty, numerous other portions of the book dive deeper into the specifics – very helpful things to know before your ETS date. A little time spent reading now could save a lot of frustration later.
The book also describes other federal benefits provided by agencies such as the Housing for Urban Development and the Small Business Administration, which can help you start or expand a small business.
The book is not an unabridged version of VA benefits or all of the laws and regulations that we must follow, but it will give any Veteran, dependent or survivor a very good idea of where to start, what they qualify for and how to get more information.
In 2012, VA published e-book versions of the Benefits Book at VA.gov. This year is no different. For the tech-savvy crowd, we host the book for Android, iPad/iPhone, Kindle and other compatible devices – all free of charge on the VA homepage.
VA also has an agreement with iTunes and the iBookstore, where it is also downloadable at no-cost to you. Just search for “Federal Benefits Book for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors.”
Despite changes in technology, the hardcopy version of the book continues to a valuable outreach tool with well over 2-million copies produced each year and ranking among the top-5 best-selling government publications annually since its No. 1 rating in 1998.
Hard copies of the book can be found at your nearest VA facility beginning in August. Ask for a copy during your next visit.
Gary Hicks is a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office Public and Intergovernmental Affairs where he serves as the editor of the federal benefits book for Veterans and the editor for VAnguard Magazine. He is a 15-year Veteran, having served in both the Army and the Air Force.