Health benefits

AARP creates new tool to facilitate access to health services for veterinarians / Public Information Service

HARTFORD, Connecticut – There are more than 200,000 military veterans in Connecticut, and a new tool is designed to make it easier for them to access health care through the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

AARP Health Benefits Navigator for Veterans and Military Families launched this month. This is a user-friendly document explaining the qualifications for certain health benefits and how to start the application process.

According to the US Census Bureau, only 26% of Connecticut veterans have used their health care benefits through the VA.

Nora Duncan, state director of AARP Connecticut, said the application process can often be confusing and frustrating, which can prevent many veterans from accessing their benefits.

“We need to help disseminate this information if they don’t have access to care because they don’t know it’s available to them,” Duncan urged. “The guide is really about navigating the application process, which I hope helps people understand that they have more to live healthier, happier lives here in Connecticut.”

The Navigator also provides information on how to get help applying for benefits with the help of a veterans service agency. According to a RAND study, nearly 60% of veterans are eligible for VA health care, but less than half of those eligible use their benefits.

Roberto Burgos, a Manchester-based Connecticut AARP volunteer, served in the US Marine Corps for 25 years. He said the process of finding and applying for VA health benefits should be as straightforward as possible.

“The veterans worked hard and dedicated their service and sacrifice to this country,” said Burgos. “Having access to the right people who can provide the right information will allow people like me to maybe be able to see if there are any benefits to VA health care that would benefit us, especially as we get older.”

AARP Connecticut plans to highlight the social media browser for Veterans Day, as well as Caregiver Awareness Month in November, as the tool may be of use to family members of veterans who support them.

Disclosure: AARP Connecticut contributes to our Fund for Reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Health Issues, Hunger / Food / Nutrition, and Seniors Issues. If you would like to help support the news in the public interest, click here.

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