Another Veterans' Resource
A reader recently asked if I knew of any counseling or legal services that could help a wounded soldier, recently returned from Iraq, to get benefits after being denied assistance by the VA.
I've been in Maine for the past two days, helping a Transportation Company prepare for its Middle East deployment. While there, I posed this question to a VA administrator. She told me that some soldiers are indeed denied certain benefits. A soldier who leaves the Army after just two or three years of service, for example, will not qualify for benefits that go only to retirees--despite having suffered injuries in combat--because leaving the service at the end of an enlistment obligation is not the same thing as retiring. Of course, personnel who are forced to leave the service because of injuries may qualify for "medical retirement" because of their injuries, but that's a discussion that goes beyond the scope of this blog.
Anyway, the VA representative went on to say that at a minimum, every soldier who continues to suffer health consequences of a combat-related injury qualifies for VA treatment of that condition, even if he qualifies for no other benefits. If, as EMS personnel, you come across a soldier suffering from PTSD or some other traumatic or health consequence of military service, have him contact the Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) Program Manager at their local VA office. I'm told that every VA office--or at least every VA medical facility--has one, and that they are eager to help veterans get the benefits they need, especially medical ones.