Veterans and Returning Soldiers

Many returning soldiers and veterans living in rural areas fail to get the help they need because of barriers to health care and other human services. The primary barrier facing this population is the geographic distance from the nearest Veterans Administration (VA) health facility. In other cases, some returning soldiers and veterans do not qualify for some or any VA benefits, or they are unaware of the benefits, services, and facilities available to them. Therefore, numerous cases of chronic and acute mental, social, and physical conditions remain untreated.

Some returning soldiers and veterans face poverty, unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. VA health facilities address these issues by developing partnerships with area community health clinics and hospitals to deliver care via telemedicine, mobile VA clinics and community-based outpatient clinics. More and more, the VA also depends on non-profit, veteran service organizations to help care for the growing population of returning soldiers and veterans in need of health care and basic human services.

Contacts

DHCC Helpline for Clinicians and Providers
Deployment Health Clinical Center
Toll Free: 866.559.1627
Phone: 301.400.1517 (DSN 469.1517)

Suicide Prevention
800.273.TALK (8255)

Resource for Retired or Separated Veterans
United States Department of Veterans Affairs

  • VA Benefits: 800.827.1000
  • Health Care Benefits: 877.222.8387
  • Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD): 800.829.4833

Housing and Homelessness
National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: 877.4AID VET (877.424.3838)

Reintegration Resource for Service Members Returning from Combat Zones
Veteran's Outreach Center: 585.546.1081, 866.906.8387, info@veteransoutreachcenter.org

VA Assistance During Hurricane Emergencies
Veterans and their families can call 800.507.4571 for information and assistance about VA facilities

There are more organizations related to Veterans and Returning Soldiers in the organizations section.

Frequently Asked Questions


How many veterans are there in the United States?

According to U.S. Census 2006 projections, there are 23,977,000 veterans living within households in the United States (U.S. Census: National Security & Veterans Affairs). 17,261,000 (nearly 72%) of all U.S. veterans are over the age of 50 which also contributes to the growing need of access to quality health care.


What is the Veterans Rural Health Advisory Committee (VRHAC)?

This is a panel of 15 members that advise the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on health care issues affecting veterans in rural areas. They examine ways to enhance Department of Veterans Affairs health care services for veterans in rural areas by evaluating current programs and identifying barriers to health care. Go to the VHA Office of Rural Health website for more information


Where do veterans reside?

Of the total U.S. population 18 years and over, 9.3% are veterans, while 11.2% of the total rural U.S. population are veterans (U.S. Census Bureau: Geographic Comparison Table, 2010).

Of the approximately 22 million Veterans living in the U.S. today, about 6.1 million (28%) live in rural areas (National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics).

About 3.1 million rural veterans (about 36% of total veteran population based on the 2010 US Census) are enrolled in the VA Health Care System.

Men and women Veterans from geographically rural areas make up a disproportionate share of service members and comprise about 31% of the enrolled Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan; many of whom are returning to their rural communities (VHA Office of Rural Health).


What is a Vet Center?

The Department of Veterans Affairs Vet Center program operates a system of community based counseling centers. The Vet Centers are staffed by small multi-disciplinary teams of providers, many of which are combat veterans themselves. Vet Center staff are available toll free during normal business hours at 1.800.905.4675 (Eastern) and 1.866.496.8838 (Pacific). They provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to all returning soldiers and veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available to family members for military related issues.

There are community based Vet Centers in all states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information on the services provided, go to http://www.vetcenter.va.gov.


What is a Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN)?

Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) are networks of medical centers, vet centers, and outpatient clinics offering primary and specialized care. These networks are grouped into 21 geographic regions. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains lists of contact information by region.


How many VA health centers are there and where are they located?

Helping to close the gap in health care services to United States veterans living in rural areas are 21 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) that manage 153 nursing homes, 232 readjustment counseling centers (Vet Centers), and 47 domiciliaries (National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics).

To find a health care facility in a specific area, use the VA Facilities Locator & Directory.


What is Care Coordination Services (CCS)?

The Office of Care Coordination Services (CCS) uses health informatics, disease management and telehealth technologies to target care and case management to improve access to care, improving the health of veterans. Care Coordination Services signature programs are telehealth related. Three different versions of telehealth use the latest technologies to increase the veterans access to care: general (real-time) telehealth, home telehealth, and store-and-forward.


Who is eligible for VA benefits?

There are a variety of eligibility requirements depending on the type of service sought and the status of the service member. For details on eligibility requirements of active duty members, National Guard members, Reserve members, and Retired Veterans and affected families for income, education, home loans, dependent and survivor, burial and memorial, disability, and insurance benefits go to http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/factsheets/.


Who is eligible for TRICARE participation?

TRICARE is available to active duty service members and retirees of the seven uniformed services, their family members, survivors and others who are registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). National Guard and Reserve members and their families are also eligible depending on the sponsor's military status. TRICARE offers eligibility details on their website.


What is an Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee (ISFAC) and how can I start one?

Inter-Service Family Assistance Committees (ISFAC) are voluntary integrated teams whose purpose is to provide assistance to ensure Total Force Family Readiness regardless of Service or Component. ISFAC provides an opportunity and forum for various Federal, State and Local agencies, care and service providers, and other organizations to network and identify opportunities, and to eliminate duplication of effort.

While the actual name of this committee can differ from state to state, 38 states currently have a committee that performs the function of Inter-Service Family Assistance Committees. The Defense State Liaison Office (DSLO) works to increase the number of states utilizing this approach, and to encourage coordination with high-level state officials and agencies.

If you would like your state to become the next to enhance support for Service members and their families through the development of an ISFAC, view the Information Paper and Sample Charter. Contact the DSLO's Senior Military Outreach Advisor with questions by phone at 703.588.0897.


What are some statistics involving veterans and healthcare?

The National Veterans Foundation has published several statistics that reflect the status of veteran health care in the United States. The numbers reported do not reflect the extensive number of veterans that do not have access to VA health benefits, nor do they reflect the qualifying veterans that do not take advantage of VA health benefits. More statistics are also available at the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics website.


How can a veteran apply for VA medical benefits?

Complete form 10-10EZ On-Line. For more information and to access the electronic form, go to https://www.1010ez.med.va.gov/.


Are there education financial assistance programs for veterans and their families?

Yes. Educational financial aid information is available at the GI Bill website.

Specific information is also available on:

Where can returning soldiers, veterans and their families receive immediate assistance?

There are a variety of organizations available that provide various services including child care support, deployment services, National Guard, and PTSD resources. Specialized services exist to help mobilized servicemembers and their families. Regardless of which military branch the Reserve is serving in, family members can receive services from any military installation.

  • Veterans Crisis Line: call 1.800.273.8255 and press 1, chat or text 838255.
  • American Red Cross and Armed Forces Emergency Services (AFES) can contact deployed service members in emergency situations, provide emergency financial assistance and counseling.
  • Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) offers educational programs, access to medical care, and clinical research initiatives. For assistance, call 1.800.870.9244 or email info@dvbic.org.
  • Military.com has several resource pages, including:
    • Deployment Center for information and support for Active Duty and Reserve/Guard members and their families.
    • Military Support Groups and Centers for help with financial, relationship, criminal, adjustment, substance abuse, and other problems.
    • Family Support Services where families of deployed servicemembers may find assistance with a particular problem or be in need of general support
  • Military OneSource, sponsored by the Department of Defense, it provides resources to help military families face everyday challenges 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1.800.342.9647.
  • National Veterans Foundation: a national non-profit, non-governmental organization of veterans helping veterans and their families. Call their hotline to speak with a trained veteran 1.888.777.4443, or request assistance from a counselor.
  • Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF): returning veterans of the armed forces are eligible for VA benefits. Contact the VA at 1.877.222.8387 (health care) or 1.800.827.1000 (benefits).
  • Vet Centers offer readjustment counseling for veterans and family members of veterans that served in a combat zone and received a military campaign ribbon. Call 1.800.905.4675 (Eastern) or 1.866.496.8838 (Pacific) during normal business hours.
  • Veteran's Outreach Center: helps veterans and returning National Guard and Reserve military personnel through reintegration services. Based in Rochester, NY: 585.546.1081, 1.866.906.VETS (8387).
  • Warrior Care Blog serves as a portal for various resources and programs to support military members of all branches and their families.
  • National Resource Directory: Wounded Warrior Resource Center, connects wounded warriors, service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers with information they need in the areas of military facilities, health care services, and caregivers to programs and services that support them. by calling 1.800.342.9647 or emailing wwrc@militaryonesource.com.