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Why are All WWII Vets Getting VA Medical Benefits?

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US Veterans from WWII to receive VA Medical Care

All living World War II veterans would be eligible for Veterans Affairs medical services and nursing home care under language included in the federal budget bill expected to be approved by lawmakers this week.

The benefits provision for WWII vets is one of numerous changes to VA policies included in the $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations bill, which also includes $303 billion for the department’s operations in fiscal 2023, reports Military Times’ recent article entitled “All WWII vets would get VA medical benefits under budget bill.”

Others include the following:

  • The establishment of a “Buddy Check Week” to promote peer wellness checks for suicide prevention;
  • The expansion of student loan repayment programs for department mental health providers; and
  • Mandated new research on secondary post-traumatic stress issues for military spouses and children.

The VA estimates that roughly 167,000 WWII-era veterans are still living in the U.S., with an average age above 96.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that expansion of health and medical care to all World War II veterans could impact about 40,000 currently excluded from VA services.

Currently, eligibility is based on service-connected conditions and financial status, as it is for veterans of other eras. However, advocates have argued that given the WWII generation’s advanced age and critical service to the country, all of those veterans should have the option of using the full slate of VA medical care.

“These men and women responded to an existential threat and were deemed the ‘Greatest Generation,’ largely because of their service,” American Legion National Commander Vincent “Jim” Troiola said in a statement.

The Legion has been pushing for the expansion of care eligibility since 2017. Troiola said the move is needed to provide “benefits that they have absolutely earned.”

In the past, Congress has expanded similar benefits for some World War I veterans. The last living American WWI vet died in 2011.

President Joe Biden has indicated that he will sign it into law as soon as it is finalized.

Reference: Military Times (Dec. 21, 2022) “All WWII vets would get VA medical benefits under budget bill”

Suggested Key Terms: VA Benefits, Veterans, Military, Legislation

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