How do VA Benefits Help Families of Soldiers? Let’s Discuss.
By Jessica Fernsby
Protecting the ways of your country and its citizens is one of the noblest deeds a person can do, no matter if they are a private or a distinguished officer.
Unfortunately, safeguarding the future of the nation might come at a cost. Soldiers are no strangers to the tragedies of military service and sometimes have to pay the ultimate price in the line of duty.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes the sacrifice of those who perished in service and is dedicated to doing everything in its power to help their families. While most of the VA benefits focus on aiding former military personnel, there are many other programs aiming to protect spouses, dependents, and survivors of soldiers.
Read the article below and learn what you can expect as a family member of a veteran.
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VA Education Benefits
If you are a spouse or a dependent of a soldier who suffered in service, you can try to qualify for VA education benefits (Chapter 35 benefits) to support your studies.
To determine whether you are eligible for this type of assistance, you need to meet different requirements. First of all, you have to be a spouse or a child of a service member or veteran, who:
- Died in service after September 10, 2001.
- Is missing in action or was captured by a hostile force.
- Was detained in the line of duty by a foreign government.
- Is getting treatment for a service-related permanent disability (or died due to it).
At least one of the above has to be true to be able to apply for the benefits.
If you qualify, you might expect education and training benefits, as well as money for housing, tuition, or study-related supplies.
There are two main programs that children and spouses of soldiers can apply for: The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship) and The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program.
Even if you qualify for both assistance benefits, you can only select one of them. As such, it might be a good idea to research these benefits and compare them to see which one is a better fit for your needs.
VA Health Care Benefits
As a spouse or a dependent of a soldier, you might also qualify for various health care benefits, such as TRICARE, CHAMPVA, or similar plans.
TRICARE is a program managed by the Department of Defense’s Defense Health Agency. You might be eligible for TRICARE if you are a family member of a serviceperson (including those on active duty, as well as retired or deceased soldiers).
TRICARE for spouses and dependants includes quality health and dental plans, as well as prescription medicine.
CHAMPVA stands for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs and is a good alternative for family members who were not eligible for TRICARE.
CHAMPVA is a cost-sharing program that covers a part of your healthcare expenses. It pays for services and supplies it deems medically necessary. The range of services CHAMPVA covers is extensive, including but not limited to:
- Durable medical equipment (DME)
- Family planning and maternity
- Mental health services
- Outpatient, inpatient, and nursing care
- Prescription medicine
After you apply for CHAMPVA, it can take anywhere from 2 to 8 months to confirm your data with other federal institutions.
Of course, these are only some of the healthcare programs you can qualify for. There are other assistance options focused on highly specific groups, such as the Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Health Care Benefits Program or the Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program.
VA Home Loan
Surviving spouses of former military personnel who perished in service can also benefit from the VA-backed home loan. However, to get one, you will need to show a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to your lender.
Qualifying for the COE requires you to be a spouse of a veteran and meet one of the following requirements:
- The veteran is currently missing in action or is a prisoner of war (POW).
- The veteran passed away during their service or from a duty-related disability (you didn’t remarry at all, before December 16, 2003, or until you were over 57 years old).
- In certain situations, the benefit can also be extended to surviving spouses of totally disabled veterans who died due to disability-unrelated causes.
VA Survivors Pension
VA Survivors Pension is a program aimed at qualified surviving spouses and dependents. It provides the beneficiaries with a monthly payment that can help with day-to-day expenses.
Spouses willing to apply for the VA Survivors Pension can’t have remarried after the death of the honorably-discharged wartime veteran. Additionally, the deceased needs to meet specific service period requirements, and your family cannot exceed the income and net worth limits imposed by Congress.
Dependants willing to apply for the VA Survivors Pension need to be unmarried and younger than 18 (23 if attending a VA-approved educational facility). It also includes children that can’t take care of themselves because of an existing disability (that manifested before the age of 18).
VA benefits can help families of soldiers in many ways. Some benefits focus on education, while others are geared towards health care and housing assistance. There are also benefits aimed at providing surviving spouses and dependents with a monthly income.
Of course, these are not the only benefits families of soldiers can qualify for. The US government is constantly expanding its support programs to ensure the loved ones of soldiers are properly taken care of. Because of that, it’s best to regularly check the list of benefits and programs you might be eligible for.