No matter how long an individual serves in the armed forces, once honorably discharged they are a United States veteran and entitled to certain benefits. One way that VITAS Healthcare serves veterans near the end of life is by assigning someone who is knowledgeable about veterans benefits to the patient’s team.
Deciphering the application can be difficult. VITAS eases this burden by helping patients and families identify potential entitlements and coordinating with the Veteran Benefits Administration (VBA), service members' agencies and other local and state organizations, as well as assisting with completing applications.
Obtaining Separation Papers
A copy of the veteran's separation papers, called a DD 214, is required to prove eligibility for VA benefits. VITAS helps veterans who do not have this form obtain theirs by completing a written or online request to the National Personnel Records Center.
Types of Veterans Benefits
There are several types of benefits to which veterans and their families may be entitled. Some offer meaningful financial assistance for end-of-life patients and their families. Others, such as headstones, flags and presidential memorial certificates, recognize a veteran's service. A VITAS team member can help with:
- Survivors benefits and death pension—a need-based benefit for the surviving spouses and dependents of veterans who served during wartime
- Veteran pension benefits, including aid and attendance—for wartime veterans with limited or no income or who are permanently disabled
- Compensation benefits—for veterans who became ill or injured during active duty, or for their survivors if the veteran died due to a service-related condition
- Private burial assistance—a funeral allowance for veterans buried someplace other than one of the VA’s 134 national cemeteries.
- Military funeral honors—uniformed armed forces personnel perform a military honors ceremony that includes playing “Taps” and presenting the American flag
- Burial in a VA national cemetery—all honorably discharged veterans are entitled to free burial in a VA national cemetery
- Headstones or markers—veterans are entitled to free government headstones or markers no matter where they are buried
- United States flags—the VA provides a flag to accompany the casket or urn, which is presented to the veteran’s family after burial
- Presidential memorial certificates—a certificate signed by the current president of the United States in honor of the veteran’s service
Call 866.791.2229 to speak with a VITAS representative about hospice care for veterans and about obtaining veterans benefits.