The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) acts as the centralizing unit for VA offices in all 50 states and several territories. The VA provides health, education, burial and job placement services to veterans and their dependents. The department's resources are spread thin serving 23.8 million veterans and 37 million dependents in the United States. The future of veteran benefits is murky as the median age of American war veterans is 60 years old as of 2007, reflecting the gradual graying of American society. Veterans and their dependents should look for benefits in their home states along with the federal VA to get the resources needed to live comfortably as civilians.
Locating State Services and Benefits
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers instant access for veterans searching for state-level benefits. The VA website features a "Partners" section that includes a category for State Veterans Affairs Offices. The federal VA website explains veteran benefits in broad brushstrokes, but the implementation and followup for these services is conducted largely at the state level. Veterans should also look to veteran service organizations like AMVETS and the American Legion under the VA "Partners" section to learn about private benefits for members.
In-State Tuition and Fee Limits
The GI Bill passed in 1944 was designed to give veterans the education and resources needed to live civilian life in the United States. This bill was responsible for providing heavily discounted education to thousands of World War II veterans, creating a generation of college-educated workers to fill the market by the 1950s. The GI Bill remains a significant benefit to American veterans by setting maximum tuition and fee levels in all 50 states. The maximum per-credit hour charge varies from state to state, with Massachusetts charging a maximum of $71.50 per credit hour and Texas setting the ceiling at $1,330 per credit. Student fees are also capped under the GI Bill, with maximum fees ranging from $311 per semester in Nevada to $12,280 in Ohio.
Veterans and their dependents are entitled to burial benefits under state and federal law. State veterans' agencies work with the federal VA to coordinate burial services for servicemen and women, going as far as to create a Nationwide Gravesite Locator. This locator is available on the federal VA website and allows relatives to track down headstones for veterans in their families. Burial benefits are provided by state VA offices as well as the federal VA, with the latter agency providing $2,000 in funeral costs to veterans lost in combat.
Veterans Affairs Health Services
Veterans throughout the United States rely on health care administered by the federal VA. The VA runs a network of 1,383 hospitals, medical centers and outpatient facilities in every state designed to meet the physical and mental care needs of America's veterans. This network ensures mobility of care unavailable under other providers, ensuring that veterans in Maine can get similar service to veterans in Florida or California. The federal VA website has a section called "Locations" that allows a search of these facilities by name or state.
Veterans Affairs Jobs Tools
The influx of veterans from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq mean that VA offices will be pressed for employment services. State VA offices employ veterans for administrative and maintenance work along with higher-level jobs to help veterans get readjusted in day-to-day life. The VA Jobs Career Search tool includes state-by-state job listings, resume guidance and other resources for veterans looking to enter the job market.
- Photo by Matt Borrowick (Flickr)