According to the Veterans Administration, 23% of all Veterans in the United States, nearly 5.2 million individuals, live in rural areas. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) currently serves over 3 million rural Veterans, and 56% of those enrolled in the VA system are 65 years or older. VHA provides a variety of health benefits through its medical centers and clinics, mostly located in urban centers, including primary and specialty care, medical and surgical services, behavioral and mental health care, physical and occupational therapy, and home health services.
Despite the wide array of VA services, Veterans often have limited knowledge of their benefits. Frequently, Veterans believe they are ineligible for VA services, because their incomes are too high, they did not serve in combat or during a war-time period, or because VA has made “big cutbacks” in services.
Most community agencies do not understand VA benefits or the VA system making it difficult to help Veterans get connected to the VA.
COVER to COVER, Connecting Older Veterans (Especially Rural) to Community or Veteran Eligible Resources, creates a new access point for Veterans in the communities where they live through 2 aims:
Educating Aging and Disability Resource Center staff in VA benefits, and
Building partnerships between the ADRC and the VA to create a more streamlined service delivery system for Veterans.
COVER to COVER agencies designated a staff person to receive in-depth VA benefits training and become the on-site Veteran Benefits Specialist. Veteran callers are asked if they would like more information regarding their VA benefits.
Veteran Benefits Specialists:
Educate Veterans and their families about VA benefits
Assist in gaining required documents needed to apply
Provide navigational assistance during the application/enrollment process
Connect the Veteran to a VA partner
Follow-up to ensure services (VA or Community) have been received
Click here for information on how to host a training.
For additional information, please contact COVER to COVER atC2C@va.gov