Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Last Updated: October 20, 2020

Written by the Open Caregiving Team. Editorial review by Joyce O. Murphy RN, MSN.

What is the Department of Veterans Affairs?

The VA is a federal agency that manages services for veterans, active members of the U.S. armed forces, and their families. These include medical care, education, and various financial benefits and other services across the country.

What healthcare services does the VA provide?

Veteran Health Benefits

  • VA Healthcare covers primary care visits, specialist care, mental health services, preventative care, and treatment for illness and injuries.
  • The VA offers long-term-care benefits for aging and disabled veterans.
  • Based on your loved one’s priority group, they may also be eligible for dental care and other additional benefits.

Family Health Benefits

Family members of active and former military members including spouses, children, and caregivers may be eligible for health care benefits under one of the VA programs listed below.

  • TRICARE is the Department of Defense’s health care program for active and retired military members and their families. Read more about TRICARE eligibility and plans on the TRICARE website.
  • The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) – is an alternative for those that do not qualify for TRICARE.
    • CHAMPVA is a cost sharing model that covers some of your health care services and supplies. Read more about CHAMPVA and your loved one’s potential eligibility on the VA website.
  • The Program Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) is a VA program that helps family members  who care for veterans. You may receive some financial assistance, health insurance, counseling, training, and respite care by caring for your loved one.

How do I know which VA health care benefits I’m eligible for?

  • Priority Groups dictate which veterans are eligible for different VA healthcare benefits. This ensures sure that the veterans who need immediate care can get it quickly. Learn more about Priority Groups and which group your loved one falls into on the VA health care page.

What support does the VA offer caregivers?

VA Caregiver Support Programs

The VA offers two support programs for caregivers of veterans. This is based on your situation and relationship to the veteran:

  • The Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC): Find out if you are eligible for PCAFC on the VA website.
  • Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS): Find out if you are eligible for PGCSS on the VA website.

VA Caregiver Financial Support

Some veteran family caregivers are eligible to get compensated through Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS or Veterans Directed Care). To be eligible for Veterans Directed Care, your loved one who is a veteran recipient must require “nursing home level care.” They then decide who will provide their care services. This may mean they can hire a family member or friend to provide the care they need.

The caregiver the veteran has selected gets paid an hourly rate. This is determined by the VA based on the veteran’s local home costs. Learn more about becoming a paid family caregiver of a veteran through Veterans Directed Care.

Contact VA Caregiver Support

For further assistance you can:

Does the VA offer disability benefits?

The VA disability compensation program provides a monthly tax-free payment for eligible veterans who became disabled because of military service. VA disability covers both physical and mental health conditions that developed before, during, or after service. Learn more about veteran disability benefits, eligibility, and how to apply on the VA disability compensation page.

What is the VA pension program?

The VA pension program offers benefits to veterans who meet age or disability criteria and have income or assets under a certain amount. Continue reading about the VA pension program, eligibility, and how to apply on the VA pension benefits page.

Can the VA help me buy and maintain a home?

The VA offers a housing assistance program that helps veterans and their families with home loans and mortgages. These include benefits to help maintain and improve your home. Learn more about the VA housing assistance program, eligibility, and how to apply on the VA housing assistance page.

Do all veterans get burial benefits?

The VA offers a burial and memorial program to help all veterans and their families coordinate funerals and memorial services in VA cemeteries. Continue reading about the VA burial benefits and memorial items on the VA burial benefits page.

Does the VA give life insurance?

The VA provides a life insurance program for current and former military personnel and their immediate families. Learn more about the VA life insurance program on the VA life insurance page.

Who qualifies for VA education benefits?

The VA offers educational programs, like the GI Bill, to help active and former military members pay for education, training and professional guidance. This also applies to some of their immediate family members. Continue reading about Veteran Education benefits, eligibility, and how to apply on the VA education and training benefits page.

How does the VA help veterans find a job?

The VA offers former military members help with returning to civilian life and finding a job. Learn more about Veteran Employment Benefits, eligibility, and how to apply on the careers and employment page.

Where is the closest VA center to me?

Find your local VA facilities and contacts using the VA locator.

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