Veterans: The answers to your most commonly asked questions

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - We asked senators and a Veteran's Affairs specialist what the most common questions they hear from veterans are, and got the answers.

We went to the John J Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri to talk with a panel of experts in VA coverage.

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They said the top questions they get are about health care. Tonda Johnson a medical administration specialist at the VA had this to say.

Q: Who is eligible for VA health care?

A: Eligibility for VA health care depends on several components; discharge, length of service if you were injured while enlisted and income. You can call 1-877-222-VETS.

Q: Why should I enroll in VA health care?

A: We have the best care in the United States, no enrollment fee, no deductibles, no monthly fee and little to no co-pays.

Q: How do I enroll with VA?

A: You can enroll by visiting your local VA facility or calling 1-877-222-VETS.

Q: If I am a returning service member, is there anything particular I should know?

A: The most important thing for combat veterans returning is to apply as soon as possible, there is a five year window of special eligibility if they don't apply within that five year window other factors may be taken into consideration like income.

Another area of question comes during the job search, Human Resource Officer Josh Holland had this to say.

Q: How can veterans apply for VA or other federal jobs?

A: There are a couple of different tools, USAjobs.gov and VAcareers.va.gov

Q: What type of resume do you look for?

A: To apply for a VA or federal job you would need to produce a federal resume. Federal resumes are typically longer in depth and they provide a lot more specialized experience to qualify applicants.

Q: Where can I go for help applying?

A: You can go to the Human Resource office at the VA closest to you. They also have an employment support specialist to help with resume writing, interview skills and transportation should you need it.

Q: What types of positions does VA hire?

A: We hire a wide variety of positions, our housekeeping aids, those are veteran only, we also work with the community to set veterans up for jobs.

Those who do use VA health care often worry about an emergency happening away from a VA facility and will they be covered, Charollette Wombles, supervisor for non-VA serviced gave us some answers. 

Q: What do I do if I experience an emergency when I'm not near a VA hospital?

A: If you are in an emergency situation and cannot get to a VA hospital go to the emergency room.

Q: When should I contact VA regarding an emergency room visit?

A: We need to be notified within 72 hours and that can be anyone. It can be the ambulance driver, it can be your wife, it can be your husband, it can be someone in the emergency room we don't care who notifies us, so long as we get notified.

Q: If I am admitted to a non-VA hospital after an emergency, how much will VA pay?

A: It all depends on eligibility, but you always have to have been treated at a VA somewhere within the last 24 months or it's not reviewable.

Q: How long do I have to file a claim for reimbursement for emergency care?

A: Claims for emergency medical care should be submitted to VA as soon as possible after care has been provided. The deadline for filing a claim depends on whether care was provided for a service-connected condition or a nonservice-connected condition. If it was service connected you have two years and if it was a nonservice-connected condition you have 90 days.

Other questions the VA gets is from those trying to help veterans or veterans trying to help themselves, Stacey Scobey is the at-risk mental health supervisor answered some of them.

Q: What if I have an other-than-honorable discharge?

A: We offer crisis mental health services to veterans that have a discharge other than honorable.

Q: If I know a homeless veteran, can you help them.

A: Yes, the first step is getting them to the shelter or VA members getting to the veteran, they will also help them to get back on their feet.

Q: What is the Veterans Crisis Line?

A: The number to the 24-hour hotline is,1-800-273-8255.

Q: What kinds of mental health services do you offer?

A: A variety of mental health services; individual therapy, peer support, PTSD support, and evidence-based treatments.

We also got these answers from Senator Tammy Duckworth's office.

Q: What is a disability rating?

A disability rating is a rating VA gives you to describe how much your service-connected disability impacts your life. A service-connected disability is an injury, disease, or condition that you got or was made worse during your military services. Disability ratings range from 0-100%.

Q: How is a disability rating determined?

A: You must file a claim for disability. VA determines your rating based on the evidence you provide and the severity of your condition. Once your claim is processed, you will receive a disability rating. To find out more about filing a claim, call 1-800-827-1000 or visit vets.gov/disability-benefits.

Q: Which benefits are time sensitive?

A: -Dental Care (180 days) and,

  • Life Insurance (240 days)
  • VA Health Care for recent Combat Veterans (5 years)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (12 years since receiving your disability rating)

Q: What are discharge papers?

A: Your discharge papers (DD214) are the most important documents to keep, they are necessary to get access to VA benefits.

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