There are many older veterans, spouses, and widows who are in need of help but wait until the last minute to inquire or even apply for benefits. Often a son or daughter comes to my office saying they are moving their father or mother into a facility. They heard that the VA has programs that might help with the cost. In the conversation, it comes out that their parent has been housebound for one year, maybe five or more years. That is when you apply.
When a veteran or a widow of a veteran loses the capacity to take care of themselves and needs assistance from someone else, that is when they or their caregivers should inquire and file for VA benefits. The VA has a program called Caregiver Support Services that can help housebound veterans.
Some of the service this program provides are adult day health care at centers around the state, home-based primary care, skilled home care, homemaker and home health aide program, home telehealth, respite care, and home hospice care. For more information on these services, go to www.caregiver.va.gov/support_services.asp#inHome.
Even when a veteran is healthy, independent, and on their own, they should look into applying for VA healthcare. Some misconceptions are that you have to drop your family doctor for a VA doctor. I share information, test results, etc., with my family and VA doctors. I have to drop my health insurance. Health care at the VA is just that, healthcare. It is not insurance.
Once enrolled, you can ask for hearing tests, eye exams, prescription refills, etc. There might be small co-pay depending on what category you are placed in. VA clinics and hospitals in Northern California are rated as some of the best in the system. To look into the services offered go to www.va.gov and click on Health Care to explore the options available.
A veteran who served on active duty in the Armed Forces at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for not fewer than 30 days during the period beginning on Jan. 1, 1957, and ending on Dec. 31, 1987, is eligible for hospital care and medical services for any of the following illnesses or conditions, notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such illnesses or conditions are attributable to such service: esophageal cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, renal toxicity, hepatic steatosis, female infertility, miscarriage, scleroderma, neurobehavioral effects, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
For more information, go to www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/camp-lejeune/.
Remember, the Colusa County Veteran Services office is here to serve veterans and their dependents. I can complete the DMV Veteran Status Verification Form for the new California Veteran Designation on your driver’s license and California I.D. cards to honorably discharged veterans. There are many state and federal benefits available to veterans and their dependents that they have earned. To find out if you are eligible for any of these benefits, visit or call our office. I can and will assist you in completing all required forms and application. You can get information on the web from the Colusa County Veterans Service Office webpage at http://www.countyofcolusa.org/index.aspx?nid=180
-— Don Parsons the Asst. Veterans Service Officer for Colusa County is a retired Army Sergeant First Class. Contact him at the Veterans Service Office, 251 E. Webster St. Colusa, CA 95932; by phone at (530)458-0388; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.