Much to my surprise, when I asked a homeless friend earlier this week if he’d considered checking in with the VA to see what help they might be able to offer, he said he hadn’t even thought of it…and he didn’t really feel right about going to them. When I questioned why he felt that way, he said, although he’d served, he didn’t feel he had “paid in” enough to collect benefits.
That’s not the first time I’ve heard veterans say they didn’t think they deserved VA benefits. One veteran told me he didn’t deserve any help because he was injured in an accident while still in boot camp. He felt he shouldn’t collect benefits because, “I didn’t really get to serve my country.” To my way of thinking, every time he gets through a day of pain, he’s still serving his country!
There are an estimated 22 million veterans in the U.S. today. Almost 9 million of them are enrolled in VA health benefits programs. Of the other 13 million, there must be many who would qualify for benefits. The VA offers many kinds of aid to veterans injured during wartime situations, but there are some programs that don’t require active service as a precursor to qualifying for benefits. Some are targeted specifically toward veterans who are considered low income.
To the veteran who was injured in boot camp, I replied that he had served his country honorably and, to my way of thinking, did deserve benefits. If you served, check out what benefits the VA may hold for you.