VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System
Returning Service Members
What Can VA Do For You?
Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs is caring for America's newest generation of Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan while serving all Veterans from every conflict and every veteran who has defended the nation.
Most Veterans, including Reservists who served in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998, are eligible to receive cost-free VA Healthcare for combat related conditions and enhanced enrollment priority for five years after separation from active duty.
5 Years of Cost Free Health Care
OEF/OIF/OND combat Veterans can receive cost free medical care for any condition related to their service in the Iraq/Afghanistan theater for five years after the date of their discharge or release. Enroll in VA health care today by visiting http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/returning_servicemembers.asp.
After five years, services are still available for a copay based on income.
The enormous benefit of enrolling in VA’s healthcare system is the financial coverage received if a Veteran receives emergency care at a non-VA health care provider or is admitted to a non-VA facility and has no other insurance. In such emergency situations, the VA will pay for medical care for Veterans enrolled in VA health care.
You can also apply in person at any New England VA facility, including the Northampton VA medical center in Leeds (421 North Main St., Leeds, MA 01053) or the VA community-based outpatient clinic in Springfield (25 Bond St., Springfield, MA 01104). Visit www.centralwesternmass.va.gov or call 1-800-893-1522 or 413-584-4040 for more information.
Here are additional VA programs:
180 Day Dental Benefit - OEF/OIF/OND combat Veterans may be eligible for one-time dental care but you must apply with 180 days of your separation date from active duty. Visit http://www.oefoif.va.gov/dental.asp for more information.
Family Support at Vet Centers - If you have served in any combat zone, local Vet Centers, including one in Springfield can help you and your family with readjustment counseling and outreach services - for free. For more information, see http://www.oefoif.va.gov/vetcenters.asp. The Springfield Vet Center is located at 1985 Main St. in the Northgate Plaza. Phone number is (413) 737-5167.
Going Back to School - VA pays benefits to eligible Veterans, reservists and active duty service members to support your continuing education goals, including for on-the-job training, apprenticeships and non-college degree programs. Learn about the Post 9/11 GI Bill today by going to http://www.gibill.va.gov/.
Finding a Job -Get help find and securing a job (http://www.oefoif.va.gov/employment.asp), browse career opportunities (http://www.mynextmove.org/vets/) or learn more about working at the VA (http://www.vacareers.va.gov/).
How Do I Get Help - VA Central Western Massachusetts can help you access VA programs and services and with completing and filing the right VA forms. VA has a dedicated OEF/OF/OND staff to assist returning combat veterans. For more information, contact Sheila Davies at (413) 584-4040, ext. 2027. For a complete list of programs and services, visit the VA home page for OEF/OIF Returning Service Members at http://www.oefoif.va.gov/WhatCanVADoForMe.asp
Make the Connection - View in-depth stories and testimonials at www.maketheconnection.net from veterans as they recount their paths from joining the military to facing adversity, reaching out for help through VA services and programs. The web site connects veterans and their friends and family members with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting Veteran health care, personal well-being, and everyday lives.
Your VA HealthCare System -- VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System operates a medical center in Northampton and five outpatient clinics in central and western Massachusetts, serving a population of more than 120,00 veterans.
In the fall of 2011, the healthcare system integrated clinics in Worcester and Fitchburg with clinics in Springfield, Greenfield, and Pittsfield in the western four counties of the state to make it more convenient and easier for veterans to access care. The system hopes to expand specialty care and build greater research opportunities that will allow more veterans to access care here near their homes instead of traveling into Boston or other VA facilities at long distances.
In the area of information technology, VA is also investing more in the ongoing development of Telehealth and virtual electronic records that will allow veterans to stay connected to VA healthcare electronically, safely and privately. In 2011, VA launched a new program to provide a direct benefit to designated, approved family caregivers of eligible Post 9/11 Veterans, which includes monthly stipends and health insurance.
VA Central Western Massachusetts, known as VA CWM, also started a toll-free telephone call center (1-800-893-1522) with a goal of "first call resolution" to meet expectations the first time a veteran calls and to better connect veterans with medical specialists.
Special Eligibility and Coordination of Care for Combat Veterans Serving in Combat Theater After 11/11/1998- Returning Servicemembers (OEF/OIF/OND)
VA is ready to provide health care and other medical services to our nation's returning OEF/OIF/OND Servicemembers. The VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System has a team ready to welcome OEF/OIF/OND Servicemembers and to help coordinate their care. For more information about the various programs available for recent returning service members, log on to the Returning Servicemembers web site.
Veterans who served in a theater of combat operations also have special eligibility for VA health care. Under the "Combat Veteran" authority VA provides cost-free health care services and nursing home care for conditions possibly related to military service and enrollment in Priority Group 6 or higher for 5 years from the date of discharge or release from active duty, unless eligible for enrollment in a higher priority group.
Combat Veterans who enroll with VA under this enhanced Combat Veteran authority will continue to be enrolled even after their enhanced eligibility period ends, although they may be shifted to Priority Group 7 or 8, depending on their income level, and required to make applicable copays. Additionally, for care not related to combat service, copays may be required depending on their financial assessment and other special eligibility factors.
NOTE: The 5-year enrollment period applicable to these Veterans begins on the discharge or separation date of the service member from active duty military service, or in the case of multiple call-ups, the most recent discharge date.