Some Los Angeles veterans who served in combat may not be aware of enhanced healthcare benefists available to them. Certain combat Veterans who were discharged from active duty service before January 28, 2003 have until January 27, 2011 to take advantage of their enhanced VA healthcare enrollment opportunity. The enhanced enrollment window was provided for in Public Law 110-181, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. That law gave combat Veterans who served after November 11, 1998 but were separated from service before January 28, 2003, and did not enroll before January 28, 2008, three years, beginning on January 28, 2008, to apply for the enhanced enrollment opportunity. These Veterans will still be able to apply for VA health benefits after January 27; however, they will have their status for receiving VA healthcare determined under normal VA procedures that base healthcare priority status on the severity of a service-connected disability or other eligibility factors. Thus, some veterans could face income or asset-based restrictions, as well as delays in establishing their VA healthcare eligibility while their disability status is determined.
Since the inception of the enhanced enrollment opportunity, the VA has sent more than 750,000 personal letters to eligible Veterans and hosted thousands of outreach efforts at every VA medical center. Since June 2010, VA sent another 194,000 personal letters to give every eligible Veteran a chance to take advantage of this opportunity; however, to date only 13,000 of these Veterans have enrolled. The law does continue to provide the enhanced healthcare enrollment window to combat Veterans who were discharged or released from active service on or after January 28, 2003. For these veterans, the five-year enrollment period begins on the discharge or separation date of the service member from active duty military service, or in the case of multiple call-ups, the most recent discharge date. Veterans can apply for enrollment online at www.1010ez.med.va.gov/sec/vha/1010ez, by contacting the VA at 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or with the help of a VA health care eligibility specialist at any VA medical center. Go to www2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp for locations. For more information regarding enrollment, visit VA’s eligibility site at www.va.gov/healtheligibility.
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