January 12, 2011

Senator Wyden Urges Eligible Combat Vets to Enroll for VA Health Care Before Deadline

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is encouraging eligible combat veterans to sign up for enhanced health care services before the January 27th deadline. The enhanced enrollment window gave combat veterans who separated from service before January 28, 2003, an extra three years to be grandfathered in under Veterans Affairs health care rules that have since changed.

“Since these men and women served, the VA’s healthcare rules have changed in ways that could affect them,” Wyden said. “It was only fair to give them the opportunity to enroll under the rules in place when they served. Now that the window for enhanced enrollment is closing, I urge all those eligible to apply.”

The enhanced enrollment window was included as part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. The provision gives all combat servicemembers who separated from service before January 28, 2003 and extra three years to enroll for VA health care under the same rules in place when they served. Those rules have since changed in ways that could affect the income or asset-based restrictions of many veterans, among other things.

Veterans are able to enroll after the January deadline; however, they will not be grandfathered in under the old procedures.  For veterans, this could mean being placed in a lower priority group or subjected to income requirements. Enrollment in the VA allows veterans to receive hospital care, medical services and nursing home care for illness that can be possibly related to their service in combat.

Eligible veterans have been contacted through outreach efforts but for more information and to check eligibility, veterans are urged to go to www.va.gov/healtheligibility, call 1-877 222-VETS (8387), or visit/call their local VA facility’s Enrollment Coordinator.