In 1930, the Veteran’s Administration was formed, and 59 years later, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) became a Cabinet-level position. The VA is run by the government and is a benefit system for those who have served in the United States armed forces. It is responsible for the administration of benefit programs to over 74 million veterans. Benefits associated with this program include medical and burial benefits, vocational rehabilitation, education, life insurance, pensions, and disability compensation. An extremely complex organization, the VA is second only to the Department of Defense in size.
VA Medical Systems
Out of all the aforementioned VA benefits, the public is perhaps most aware of the VA Medical Program. Fifty-four hospitals across the country were operated by the Veterans Administration in 1930. There are currently over 150 VA hospitals and medical centers, and the VA operates over 1,400 additional care sites, including 872 ambulatory care and outpatient clinics, 209 Veterans Centers, 108 home-care programs, 45 residential rehabilitation programs and 135 nursing homes.
Eligibility for VA medical program benefits is determined by a classification system that places each veteran in a category based on a set of priorities. The scale used for such classifications runs from one to eight, with one being the highest priority. It can sometimes be a challenge for the average person to understand this system. For instance, Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to toxic herbicides are categorized as a priority six. However, veterans exposed to asbestos while in service who later developed mesothelioma – the most deadly of the asbestos-caused diseases – are given no priority at all.
The VA may or may not recognize an individual case of mesothelioma as a condition connected with military service. A “service-connected” condition is considered a disease or illness linked to an individual’s military service. This classification allows for simpler collecting and filing of VA benefits. Additionally, the VA does not provide a special medical program for many service-related diseases, such as those created for the Gulf War Illness or Agent Orange. Nevertheless, medical benefits are sometimes offered to those with mesothelioma; however, filing a claim can quickly become a complicated process.
Veterans with asbestos-caused diseases may apply for medical benefits, although this activity can frequently prove bewildering. When beginning a claim, veterans must show proof that their illness or disease is related to asbestos exposure. After this, they must provide evidence that their asbestos exposure took place while they were in military service. Even if a veteran is able to prove 100% disability from cancer, he or she can only expect $2,673 a month. Though additional money is available if the veteran has children, a spouse, or a dependent parent, it may not be sufficient to cover the costs of living with cancer.