Larry Dandridge

VA benefits for spouse, dependents, survivors, family caregivers 


The two best ways to find out what a veteran’s spouse, dependent, survivor, and family caregiver VA benefits are and how to apply for those benefits include: 

  1. Reading the VA’s webpage titled VA Benefits for Spouses, Dependents, Survivors, and Family Caregivers found at http://bit.ly/3ZsrvET and … 
  2. Asking a VA trained and accredited Veterans Service Officer (VSO). Read about VA Accredited Representatives and how to find one at http:// bit.ly/3rNLdvy, http:// bit.ly/41PPiQM and http://bit.ly/3qbLVSL. 

According to the VA, the spouse or dependent child of a veteran or service member may qualify for certain benefits, like health care, life insurance, or money to help pay for school or training. The survivor of a veteran or service member may qualify for added benefits, including help with burial costs and survivor compensation. 

A family caregiver of a veteran may also be eligible for support to help them better care for the veteran — and for themselves. 

This article will introduce spouses, dependents, survivors, and family caregivers to: 

How to get help for a Veteran who’s in crisis. 

Benefits for spouses, dependents, and survivors. 

Support and services for caregivers of veterans. 

More resources for those supporting a veteran or service member. 

Help a Veteran find benefits. 

How do I get help for a veteran who’s in crisis? 

Anyone concerned about a veteran in crisis (mental health, suicidal, jobless, financial, domestic, etc.) should connect the VA’s Veteran Crisis Line responders for confidential help. Many of the VA Crisis Line Responders are veterans themselves. The service is private, free, and available 24/7. 

To connect with a VA Crisis Line Responder anytime day of night call 988, or begin an online chat at http://bit.ly/41UIcdJ, or Text 838255, or if you are hearing loss call TTY 800- 799-4889. 

Anyone worried about a veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless should call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-424-3838 for help 24 hours per day, seven days per week. You or the veteran can talk privately with a trained VA counselor for free. 

Benefits for spouses, dependents, and survivors 

Health care: Find out through your VSO and the VA’s Healthy Care for Spouses, Dependents, and Family Member Caregivers webpage at http://bit.ly/ 3JgMCoa if you may qualify for health care through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veteran Affairs (CHAMPVA) program (see http://bit.ly/3FCwL1E), the Department of Defense’s TRICARE program (see https://www.tricare. mil), or one of the VA’s other programs related to a veteran’s service-connected disability. 

For spouse, dependent child, surviving spouse, surviving child 

Education and training: Find out through your VSO and the VA’s Education Benefits for Survivors and Dependents webpage at http://bit.ly/41R3GrR if you may be eligible for help paying for school or job training through the VA’s Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program (also called Chapter 35) or the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship. 

Learn about how a veteran may transfer their unused Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to you at the VA’s Transfer Your Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits webpage, which is found at http://bit. ly/3IWSAsK. 

Read more about the Fry Scholarship Program and the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program at http://bit. ly/41SGxVY and http://bit. ly/3yADbKd. 

For spouse, dependent child, surviving spouse, surviving child 

Employment: Find out through your VSO and the VA’s Employment Benefits for Dependent Family Members webpage at http://bit.ly/3YtP7I1 how to get free educational and career counseling if you are a dependent family member who is eligible for VA education benefits. 

Spouses, dependent children, a surviving spouse, and surviving children may be able to get educational and career counseling, plus help with exploring abilities and interests, mapping out a path to employment, and panning the best use of VA benefits. In certain cases, they may be able to get other education and employment benefits and services for dependents. 

For example, if you are the child of a Vietnam or Korean War Veteran and have certain birth defects, or if you are the dependent child or spouse of a veteran who has died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of active service you may qualify. 

Dependent family members may be eligible for VA educational and career counseling if they are the dependent of a veteran and they meet the specific eligibility requirements. 

Learn more about Post- 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33), Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD), and Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) benefits at: 


https://www.va.gov/ education/about-gi-bill-benefits/montgomery-active-duty/. 

https://www.va.gov/ education/about-gi-bill-benefits/montgomery-selected-reserve/. 

Eligible dependents can apply for benefits by mail by filling out an Educational/Vocational Counseling Application (VA Form 28-8832), which is found at http://bit.ly/41Nz7DA and mailing the form to their nearest VA Regional Office. 

The nearest VA Regional Office can be found at the VA’s Find VA Locations webpage http://bit.ly/3BpjKET. 

More information about VA education and employment benefits and services for dependents can be found at: 

Chapter 35 – Survivors’ and Dependents’ Education Assistance webpage https://bit. ly/3yADbKd. 

Birth Defects Linked to Agent Orange webpage http://bit. ly/3Yq3kFU. 

Vet Success on Campus (VSOC) webpage http://bit.ly/3IYDnra. 

Don’t wait, contact your VSO for help! 

Beaufort DAV Chapter VSO Michael Vergantino, 843-301-2543 and mlv1030@gmail.com. Beaufort County VSO Carl Wedler, 843-255- 6880, FAX 843-255- 9445 or 6880, cwedler@ bcgov.net. 

Colleton County VSO Janet D. Smith, 843- 549-1412, cvao@colletoncounty.org; Jasper County VSO Alton Jenkins, 843-726-7727, ajenkins@jaspercountysc.gov; and Hampton County VSO Sharon Johnson, 803-914- 2085/2087, sjohnson@ hamptoncountysc.org. 

Charleston County VSO David J. LeBlanc, Sr, 843-974-6360, vaoffice@charlestoncounty.org; Berkeley County VSO Gerald Baxley, 843-377-8506, gerald.baxley@ berkeleycountysc.gov; American Legion VSO Hollywood Charlie Tupper, 843 709-7523, Charles.R.Tupper@ gmail.com; Dorchester County VSO Johnny K. Brown, 843-832-0050, JKBrown@dorchestercountysc.gov. 

Chatham County, Georgia VSO Reggie Louis, 912-920-0214, Ext. 2194, reggie. lewis2@va.gov; Liberty County & Hinesville, Georgia VSO Charles Isaac, 912-408-2948, charles.isaac@vs.state. ga.us. 

Next week’s article will talk about home loan programs; life insurance options, claims, and beneficiary assistance; pre-need eligibility determination for burial in a VA national cemetery, burial benefits and memorial items; and more. 

Larry Dandridge is a Vietnam War wounded warrior, disabled veteran, ex-Enlisted Infantryman, ex-Warrant Officer Pilot, and retired Lt. Colonel. He is a past Veterans Service Officer, a Patient Adviser at the RHJ VA Hospital, the Fisher House Charleston Good Will Ambassador, and the VP for Veteran Affairs for the local Army Association Chapter. Larry is the author of the award-winning book Blades of Thunder and a contributing freelance writer with The Island News. Contact him at LDandridge@ earthlink.net or 843-276-7164. 

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