Survey Shows Many Veterans Unaware of VA Benefits

America’s veterans are eligible for a wide range of benefits, from access to the VA’s well-regarded medical system to lifetime payments for disabilities suffered during military service to access to education, life insurance and home loan programs. However, more than half of America’s veterans say they have little or no understanding of the benefits due them, despite efforts over recent years to match returning soldiers with the help and services they need.

<div>VA data show that participation varies widely by geography. In addition, a veteran’s understanding of what’s available varies greatly by period of service. The VA’s 2010 National Survey of Veterans, conducted about every 10 years to determine the state of America’s veterans, shows a wide gap in veterans’ understanding of the resources available to them.
</div><div>Among all veterans, 59 percent said their understanding of available benefits was “a little” or “not at all,” according to the analysis of the VA’s survey data.
</div><div>But there were some wide swings. According to an article on The Olympian:
</div><div>– Among older veterans, including those from Vietnam, Korea and World War II, 55 percent or more have little or no understanding of their benefits; among veterans from the period between Korea and Vietnam, lack of understanding shot to 65 percent.
</div><div>– Among younger veterans, 40 percent had little or no understanding.
</div><div>– Asked specifically about life insurance benefits, 80 percent said they have little or no understanding of them – including 62 percent who said they have no understanding at all.
</div><div>– Asked about education benefits, younger veterans – who would be most likely to use them – have far greater understanding of what’s available than their older brethren. Even so, 41 percent said they have little or no understanding of those benefits, which include several different and sometimes overlapping programs.
</div><div>In 2011, the Government Accountability Office pointed to the complexity of the VA’s education programs as a possible factor that kept more veterans from participating. The GAO recommended the VA establish new performance measures and improve communication with colleges where veterans enroll. The VA said last week it was putting the GAO’s recommendations into place.
</div><div>Among the most significant changes will come this week, when the VA and the Pentagon start revamped briefings for service members transitioning to civilian life. The VA also will make the briefings available in monthly webinars.
</div><div>The efforts will go a long way toward eliminating the problem of veterans who don’t understand their benefits, said Danny Pummill, who oversees the VA’s transition assistance program.
</div><div>But while the briefings should capture more younger veterans and keep their participation rates relatively high, they don’t address the soldiers and sailors who left military service after World War II, Korea, Vietnam or other periods.</div>