Last week, the President signed the Blue Water Navy Veterans Act into law. This legislation is the result of decades of arguments about how to treat sailors, Marines, and other United States military veterans who served during the Vietnam War in boats off the coast of Vietnam, but who did not set foot in Vietnam. Under the new legislation, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is to “presume” the connection of certain diseases to Agent Orange exposure.
Under HR 299 this presumption is extended to veterans who served off the coast of Vietnam between 1/9/1962 and 5/1/1975 within twelve miles of the coast of Vietnam or Cambodia.
While this bill is an important milestone in getting the benefits our veterans deserve, it is also emblematic of a larger trend. Eligibility for benefits, even for veterans who left the service many decades ago, is not a fixed determination. The VA and the US Congress are always looking at new information, and often this means that a veteran who was once determined ineligible for a benefit, may now be eligible. Therefore, it is so important that veterans have a resource to talk to about benefits. Veterans need to understand that if they are facing challenges, it makes sense to talk with a Veteran Service Officer (VSO) -- who may work for a government agency, a Service Organization, or the VA itself.
At BeneLynk, we link members (including veterans) with a variety of benefit programs. In some instances, we link members directly with a VSO to apply for a Service Connected Disability or other benefit from the VA that requires an accredited Service Officer. Since an estimated 22% of Medicare recipients are veterans, it is immensely valuable for Medicare Advantage plans to have in place services which help them identify their veteran-members and link them with valuable services. We are laser-focused on helping managed care plans positively impact all the Social Determinants of Health – which include not just challenges your members face, but also the important life experiences that shaped who they are today. As we prepare to celebrate our nation’s birthday we are very happy that another deserving group of veterans will get access to the benefits they deserve.
About the Author
Sean Libby has been an advocate for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and individuals with low income for over 17 years. At BeneLynk, we are committed to helping managed care plans to deliver superior Social Determinant of Health solutions to their members. We are always looking to learn more and would like to hear your ideas on how best to assist members in need. Drop us a note at Sales@BeneLynk.com.