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What types of V.A. benefits are available besides medical coverage?

There are several different types of benefits that the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) can offer.  These benefits sometimes depend on the status of the person in question (are they on active-duty, a veteran, a spouse, or a dependent).  This is far from an exhaustive list, but covers the most common types of benefits bestowed upon veterans and their dependants.

Education and Training

Any person who has entered active duty after June 30, 1985 and contributed to an education fund are eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill.  Others who may be eligible for the Montgomery GI Bill include some Vietnam Era veterans, veterans separated under special programs and some reservists and National Guard members.  The Post-9/11 GI Bill is available to those who served on or after September 11, 2001 and pays tuition and fees up to the most expensive, public, in-state undergraduate program rate, provides a monthly housing allowance and a stipend for books and supplies.  There are some options that even allow service members to transfer thee benefits to a spouse of a child.

Those who served over 90 continuous days or more after September 11, 2001 after being activated under Federal authority for a contingency operation may also be entitled to the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP/Chapter 1607). 

Finally, Survivors’ & Dependents’ Educational Assistance is available to some family members of certain deceased veterans or veterans with disabilities.

Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment

The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service provides outreach, motivation, evaluation, counseling, training, employment, and other rehabilitation services to service-connected veterans with disabilities.  Vocational and educational counseling, as well as the evaluation of abilities, aptitudes and interests are provided to veterans and service persons.  Sometimes these same services are available to a spouse or child of a veteran.  However, all children with Spina Bifida who had at least one parent serve in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War, or served in certain military units, in or near the demilitarized zone in Korea between September 1, 1967 and August 31, 1971 are entitled to vocational training and rehabilitation services.

Home Loan Guaranty

The VA will guarantee a loan to purchase a home, condominium or manufactured home and for refinancing purposes.  Surprisingly, most of these loans are actually from private lenders, but the VA generally will guarantee these loans which will allow the homebuyer to avoid making a down payment. 

Burial Benefits

The VA will furnish a monument to mark the grave of an eligible veteran.  It can also provide a Presidential Memorial Certificate for eligible recipients.  The VA will also provide an American flag to drape on an eligible veteran’s casket.  Generally, the VA can pay a burial allowance of $2,000 for veterans who died of service-related causes.  For other veterans the VA can pay $300 for burial and funeral expenses and $300 for a plot.  Finally, most veterans and some dependents may be buried in a VA national cemetery. 

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