Q&A: VA Medical Care

Question and answer:

Question: As a Veteran, Do I qualify for VA Medical Care


Veterans Eligibility

For the purposes of VA health benefits and services, a person who served in the active military service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable is a Veteran.

Basic Eligibility

If you served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health benefits as well.

Reserves or National Guard members with active duty for training purposes only do not meet the basic eligibility requirement.

Minimum Duty Requirements

Most Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to Veterans who were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, for a hardship or “early out,” or those who served prior to September 7, 1980. Since there are a number of other exceptions to the minimum duty requirements, VA encourages all Veterans to apply so that we may determine their enrollment eligibility.

Enhanced Eligibility

Certain Veterans may be afforded enhanced eligibility status when applying and enrolling in the VA health care system. Veterans who:

Are a Former Prisoner of War (POW)

In receipt of the Purple Heart Medal.

In receipt of the Medal of Honor.

Have a compensable VA awarded service-connected disability of 10% or more.

In receipt of a VA Pension.

Were discharged from the military because of a disability (not preexisting), early out, or hardship.

Served in a Theater of Operations for 5 years post discharge.

Served in the Republic of Vietnam from January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975.

U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships associated with military service in Vietnam

Served in the Persian Gulf from August 2, 1990 to November 11, 1998.

Were stationed or resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953 and December 31, 1987.

Are found by VA to be Catastrophically Disabled.

Previous years’ household income is below VA’s National Income or Geographical-Adjusted Thresholds.


VA operates an annual enrollment system that helps to manage the provision of health care. VA applies a variety of factors during the application verification process when determining a Veterans’ eligibility for enrollment, but once a Veteran is enrolled, that Veteran remains enrolled in the VA health care system and maintains access to certain VA health benefits.

Once your application is successfully processed, you will be assigned an enrollment Priority Group. Certain Veterans may be eligible for more than one enrollment Priority Group. In that case, VA will always place you in the highest Priority Group that you are eligible. Under the VA Health Benefits Package, the same services are generally available to all enrolled Veterans. Once enrolled, you will receive a personalized Veterans Handbook, which will detail your VA health benefits and provide important information concerning your access to VA health care.


VA’s goal is to process all applications for enrollment in VA healthcare within five (5) business days. If the healthcare application is complete and contains all necessary information, the application is processed and an enrollment decision is sent to the applicant by mail. Newly-enrolled Veteran will receive a Handbook in the mail welcoming him/her to the VA health care system. The handbook is personalized and contains detailed information about the specific health benefits the Veteran is eligible to receive as well as information on copay responsibility, if any, and other services available. Source: www.va.gov