FAIRBANKS — Disability compensation, health care, dental care and mental health counseling are just some of the services available to veterans in Alaska.
Unfortunately, out of the close to 77,000 veterans in Alaska, only around 30,000 have registered to take advantage of the services available to them.
In recognition of Veterans Day, the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Rural Veterans Health Access Program, in collaboration with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Alaska VA Health Care System, are rolling out a state-wide education campaign to encourage Alaska veterans to enroll in VA benefits. The goal of the campaign is to increase awareness about VA benefits provided by the VA and to increase access to care and services for veterans.
Posters with tear-off informational cards are being distributed throughout the state to different social and support organizations and establishments where veterans are known to gather.
Information on the cards include steps to apply for disability compensation, health care, counseling, mental health services, pension benefits, burial benefits, and vision and dental treatment.
Health care benefits
Applying for enrollment is now easier and faster than ever. Regulations have changed enabling the VA to relax income restrictions on enrollment for health benefits. Any veteran who has served in the active military, naval or air service, and separated under any condition other than dishonorable, may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty (other than for training only) by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health care.
Every VA medical center has a team ready to welcome Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn service members and to help coordinate their care.
OEF, OIF and OND combat veterans are also eligible for special eligibility for VA health care and the VA is now working collaboratively with local tribal and non-tribal clinics so that veterans may access care in their home communities.
How to apply
Qualifying veterans can apply online at vba.va.gov and click on “Quick Benefits Summaries.” Applying online significantly reduces the processing time for enrollment. For help filling out the form while online, veterans may call 1-877-222-VETS (8387), between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, or click on the “chat online with representative” button located on the website. The application can also be downloaded from the website or veterans can have a paper copy mailed to them by calling the number above. Veterans may also apply in person at any VA health care facility.
Tracy Speier is Rural Veteran Health Access Program manager for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.