Veterans, service members, and their families and survivors should learn what the Veterans Administration (VA) can do for them by downloading and printing a copy of The VA Welcome Kit.
Veterans, military members, and their families can download and print out a black and white or color copy of their VA Welcome Kit at https://www.va.gov/welcome-kit/. The VA Welcome Kit (Guide) provides a broad overview of services the VA can offer you. To access more information about VA benefits and services, visit the VA online at https://www.va.gov.
Whether you’re just getting out of the service or you have been a civilian for years now, the VA Welcome Kit can help guide you to the benefits and services you’ve earned. The VA advises you to keep your welcome kit handy so you can turn to it throughout your life.
Military members, veterans, and their spouses and children (and survivors) need to be familiar with their veterans’ benefits. Veterans need the information in their VA Welcome Kit when it is time to go to school, get a job, buy a house, get health care, retire, or make plans for their care as they age.
The VA recommends that veterans share The VA Welcome Guide with friends or family members who need help with their benefits too. Veterans can print out copies for themselves and others.
15 other VA benefits and services guides
Fifteen other guides to VA benefits and services available for downloading at https://www.va.gov/welcome-kit/ include:
- Get started with mental health services
- Get started with health services for women veterans
- Understanding community care
- Accessing urgent care
- Apply for a disability rating
- Apply for education benefits
- Apply for burial in a VA national cemetery and for memorial products
- Understanding the modernized decision review process
- Get started with services for aging Veterans
- Get started with Veteran state benefits and services
- Get started with Vet Center services
- Get started with food and nutrition services
- Get started with Whole Health services
- Get started with Veteran-Owned Small Business support
- Get started with services for LGBTQ+ Veterans (PDF).
2 specific guides available for family members
Specifically for family members the following guides are available at https://www.va.gov/welcome-kit/:
1. Get started with caregiver benefits
2. Apply for survivor benefits
Learn more about VA benefits and services
Veterans, military members, and their families, survivors, and caregivers can learn much more about VA benefits and services online at https://www.va.gov.
- Health care. Go to https://www.va.gov/health-care/ to learn more about applying for VA health care, find out how to access services, and manage your health and benefits online.
- Education and training. Go to https://www.va.gov/education/ to learn more about how to apply for and manage your GI Bill and other education benefits to help pay for college and training programs.
- Housing assistance. Go to https://www.va.gov/housing-assistance/ to find out if you’re eligible for VA home loan programs to help you buy, build, repair, or keep a home. If you have a service-connected disability, check if you qualify for a housing grant to help you live more independently.
- Careers and employment. Go to https://www.va.gov/careers-employment/ to find out how to apply for vocational rehabilitation services, get support for your Veteran-owned small business, and access other career resources.
- Life insurance. Go to https://www.va.gov/life-insurance/ to explore VA life insurance options for Veterans, service members, and families. Manage your policy online, file claims for benefits, and access helpful resources.
- Pension. Go to https://www.va.gov/pension/ to apply for monthly payments for wartime Veterans and survivors with limited or no income, who meet certain age and disability requirements.
- Burials and memorials. Go to https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/ to get help planning a burial in a VA national cemetery, order a headstone or other memorial item to honor a Veteran’s service, and apply for survivor and dependent benefits.
- Records. Go to https://www.va.gov/records/ to apply for a printed Veteran ID card, get your VA benefit letters and medical records, and learn how to apply for a discharge upgrade.
- Benefits for spouses, dependents, survivors, and family caregivers. Go to https://www.va.gov/family-member-benefits/ to learn about benefits for spouses and dependents of a Veteran or service member, including added support if you’re caring for a Veteran with a service-connected disability.
As always, ask a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) to help you to understand your veterans’ benefits and how to apply for those benefits. You can either use a DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, VFW, or other Veteran Service Organization VSO or you can use a S.C. or Ga. County VSO.
Two local Beaufort area VSOs are:
- DAV Chapter 12 VSO. The Beaufort, S.C. Disabled America Veterans (DAV) Veterans Services Organization (Chapter 12) in Beaufort has a resident Chapter Veterans Service Officer, Michael L. Vergantino. He meets with veterans every Thursday, at the Beaufort American Veterans (AMVETS) Post 70, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Mr. Vergantino’ s email address is MikeV@SelectiveRealtyGroup.com and his phone number is 843-301-2543.
- Beaufort County VSO. The Beaufort County (Government) Veterans Service Office is located at 100 Clear Water Way, Beaufort, S.C. 29906, The phone no. is 843-255-6880, and the fax no. is 843-255-9445. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, by appointment only. The website is https://bit.ly/3uKeZUQ.
You can find a list of all SC County VSOs at https://bit.ly/3HNQLwt. Last week’s Veterans Benefits article explained how to find a VSO or other certified veterans’ representative in the footprint of The Island News.
Please share this information with military members, veterans, and their families and survivors.
You can read copies Larry Dandridge’s past articles at www.yourislandnews.com.
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 free-lance writer with the Island News. Contact him at LDandridge@earthlink.net or 843-276-7164.