Military veterans often put their lives on the line for their country, witnessing a wide range of scenarios that significantly affect their physical and emotional health. The aftermath of war and combat can result in lifelong health issues, which often require ongoing treatment.
Although there are health benefits available for veterans, there are concerns that some of the nation’s veterans are not receiving the support they need — mainly those who have been severely injured, requiring ongoing treatment, as well as those who are wrongfully denied benefits.
If you or your loved one require health care and are entitled to veteran benefits, you must take the right steps to ensure proper care is provided. This guide covers the benefits available, as well as how to navigate common issues associate with these benefits.
The Unique Challenges Today’s Veterans Face
There is no denying that veterans of all wars and combat situations face hardships. However, the over 2 million women and men who have served in the global war on terrorism are experiencing unique challenges that may require additional health support and services.
Recent wars are the first since World War II in which American military personnel have undergone multiple deployments. This increases the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by 50%, and unfortunately, these individuals do not typically receive what the military calls dwell time.
The duration of time the wars in the greater Middle East are also a cause for concern. For example, the first Gulf War consisted of 38 days of sustained bombings and 100 hours of ground combat. In comparison, the war on terrorism has been ongoing for nearly decades. In addition to several other challenges, advances in medical care are resulting in a much higher percentage of wounded veterans. 
Of course, most veterans are grateful that medical care was able to save their lives. However, many injured veterans now face a lifetime of consequences, especially concerning their physical and mental health. Research shows that one out of every ten veterans alive today was seriously injured while serving in the military, with 52% reporting that the government has not given them enough support. Among other veterans, being those who were not as severely injured, only 32% were just as critical toward the government, while 63% feel they have received the assistance they need. 
A recent survey by the Wounded Warrior Project found that of the injured post-9/11 veterans:
- 94% experienced physical injuries
- 91% live with severe mental health conditions
- Nearly one-third require medical aid and attendance with everyday activities because of injuries 
Whether you or your loved one need support following military service, there are many health benefits available. Since there is an ongoing veteran health crisis, it’s important to highlight some of the best benefits while bringing awareness to the issues that hinder veterans from receiving the care they need.
Health Benefits Available for Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) runs all of the major veteran benefit programs, offering not just medical assistance, but also financial and educational support.
Based on your military service, you may be eligible for several benefits. There are several medical and health-related benefits, some of which are fairly specific — such as the Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Health Care Benefits Program.
One of the broadest programs available is the Basic Medical Benefits Package. All enrolled veterans receive this package, which includes:
- Preventative, primary, and specialty care
- Diagnostic services
- Inpatient care services
- Outpatient care services
Some veterans qualify for additional benefits, such as dental care. The benefits you receive depend on several factors, including your priority group, which is determined by your military service history, a disability rating, income level, and the other benefits you’re receiving.
For mental health, there are Mental Health Residential Treatment Programs and a range of Mental Health Services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
As reported by Veterans Affairs, each veteran’s medical benefits package is unique. These packages include care and services to:
- Treat illnesses and injuries
- Prevent future health complications
- Enhance the quality of life
- Improve one’s ability to function 
From Women veterans health care to prescription drug programs, VA health benefits seem to cover the entire spectrum, so where do the issues lie?
Common Issues Concerning Veteran Health Benefits
Overall, the majority of veterans are happy with the support they receive. Data shows that 71% of those serving after 9/11 rated medical care positively, but only 55% of those who were badly injured shared this view. 
When diving deeper into the veteran population, it’s clear that there are often specific challenges to address, challenges that after veterans at a higher rate than the general population. As of 2021, some of the core challenges being discussed include:
- Addressing the ballooning VA budget
- Reducing the high veteran suicide rate
- Expanding veterans’ access to disability benefits
- Rebuilding the VA’s infrastructure
- Slowing the privatization of veterans’ health care
- Prioritizing women and the LGBTQ community
- Helping veterans transition more easily into civilian life 
This is in response to concerns the VA has faced about veterans’ access to care, as well as the quality of that care.
For example, according to a 2020 study, an estimated 400,000 former service members are at risk of wrongfully being denied access to their VA health benefits, as well as other benefits. This is because of “bad paper” designations, which result from minor misconduct, including one-time drug use, being late to morning formation, or showing disrespect to a superior officer. These individuals are legally entitled to benefits but are being turned away.
Some of the groups of individuals who are disproportionately at risk include:
- Gay and lesbian veterans
- Veterans who were sexually assaulted
- Veterans who served in the Marines or Navy
- Those who served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Those with PTSD 
When you sign up for VA health benefits, you select one VA location for your regular care. If you require specialty care, you will receive a referral. That is why issues should be first discussed with your primary care provider. If you are still not receiving the care you need, contact a patient advocate at your VA clinic or medical center. The role of patient advocates is to work with you to resolve the issue.
When seeking support for health issues, you must work with a provider that understands the unique needs of veterans. Sometimes, issues with one’s quality of care because they are not receiving the right type of care. For example, there are specific Veterans Recovery Programs that help individuals:
- Safely detox from a range of substances
- Better manage anger and stress
- Prevent suicide
- Overcome trauma, whether it be emotional or sexual
- Rebuild family relationships
Discover More About the Help for Our Heroes Program
At Transformations Treatment Center, we offer a highly specialized treatment program, known as the Help for Our Heroes Program. This program is led by military veterans and former first responders who are also Master’s Level therapists.
You no longer need to suffer in silence. By seeking the support of Transformations, you can join the thousands of heroes who have been successfully treated, building the life you deserve. By receiving a comprehensive, customized treatment plan, you will receive the individualized care you require to heal.
Do you have questions about treatment and what this program can offer you or your loved one? Contact us today!
- Korb, L. and Diallo, A. Caring for U.S. Veterans. A Plan for 2020. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/article/caring-u-s-veterans-plan-2020/
- Morin, R. For Many Injured Veterans, A Lifetime of Consequences. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2011/11/08/for-many-injured-veterans-a-lifetime-of-consequences/
- Wounded Warrior Project. 2020 Annual Warrior Survey. Retrieved from https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/mission/annual-warrior-survey
- About VA Health Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/
- The Challenges Facing the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2021. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/article/challenges-facing-department-veterans-affairs-2021/
- Montalto, D. Op-Ed: How the VA has illegally denied healthcare to thousands of veterans. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-05-31/veterans-healthcare-denied-access