Understanding the VA and the alphabet soup of different programs
by Lori Lundquist
Sometimes navigating through the various twists and turns in order to find a benefit at the end of the process can often be frustrating. The VA? The VA, or Veterans Administration, has not been the VA since 1989 when it became the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of us continue to refer to it as the VA because most of us know which agency is being identified. But do we really? Are we referring to the VARO which is part of the VBA, or are we speaking of the VHA? Then, of course, one might actually be seeking contact with the WDVA.
By now I am sure you get my drift. The USDVA, formerly known as the Veterans Administration, is primarily comprised of three basic sections:
• Veterans Health Administration (VHA) includes the VA medical centers, commonly referred to as the VA Hospitals and Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) located within and outside (Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Philippines, Guam) of the continental United States of America. This part of the VA has become very popular in recent years because of the prescription medicine benefit at either no cost or low costs for those who qualify.
• The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) processes a myriad of applications for entitlements and benefits for veterans and, in some cases, the dependents of veterans who qualify. Some of the more well-known programs are: service-connected compensation, non-service connected disability pension, death pension and the Montgomery GI Bill (educational benefits).
• Another important component is Memorial Affairs. This part of the USDVA maintains the national cemeteries; issues burial flags and provides veterans’ grave markers.
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