Getting information to Veterans


GREENFIELD, Mass., Feb. 13, 2012The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will host an information fair Thursday, Feb. 16, in partnership with Greenfield Community College’s VetNet, GCC’s organization for student Veterans.

The 1 to 4 p.m. fair is open to all Veterans, retired military members, and family members.

VA representatives will provide information about Veterans Health Administration benefits and additional Veterans-specific information about VA services.

The event at GCC’s Dining Commons is particularly important since some Veterans don’t use their benefits because they don’t know what’s available to them or believe they won’t need VA benefits.

Veteran-students transitioning from active duty service to civilian life face unique challenges entering the college setting.  One challenge can be securing health care insurance.

Returning combat Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan can receive cost free VA medical care for any condition related to their deployment service for five years after the date of their discharge or release. The medical care satisfies state requirements for health insurance.

“VA is making a concerted effort to reach out to student Veterans at campus sites in western Massachusetts to make Veterans aware of the federal benefits they earned and to provide information to help ease their transition from active-duty military to college life,” said Roger Johnson, director of VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System.  “It’s important for every Veteran to determine their eligibility. Our hope is that we can preclude a Veteran from having to pay thousands of dollars in health care costs.  Without going to VA, they could be left in the lurch if they develop a medical condition or are injured in an auto accident.”

The GCC event is the first of several this year the VA intends to host at area schools.

Veterans who are not currently enrolled for VA benefits are encouraged to bring their DD Form 214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” to the open houses to assist counselors with determining individual eligibility for VA benefits. Financial information such as bank statements and insurance coverage is also important for counselors to review financial ability for health care benefits.

VA counselors will assist veterans to complete eligibility and enrollment applications. Benefit counselors from the Veterans Benefits Administration will also be available.

VA staff from VA CWM HCS, based out of Northampton, will be available to answer questions.  The healthcare system operates the VA medical center in Northampton along with five outpatient clinics, including one in Greenfield at 143 Munson St.

The Springfield Veterans Center, which operates a mobile Vet center that travels throughout the region, will also be represented.  The center provides readjustment counseling, community education, and provides a key access link between Veterans and other services in the VA system.

In addition to primary care and overall VA health benefits, program managers at the GCC fair will include services for combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan; Women’s Health; Mental Health services and treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder; assistance for Veterans with diabetes; VA nutrition and exercise programs; support to family caregivers; and home-based primary care services.

If a Veteran received an honorable discharge, he or she may qualify for health care benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Veterans are invited to attend so they can learn about VA health care eligibility and enrollment and available health care services.
For additional information about the information fair, contact John Paradis at (413) 582-3050 or by email at [email protected].


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