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Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF/OND)

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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  1. What benefits are available?
  2. I was not injured in the service. Am I eligible for any benefits?
  3. Are there non-service connected pension payments for veterans of a war time era?
  4. Are there educational/school benefits for veterans and their dependents?
  5. Are there any Life Insurance benefits?
  6. Can I receive medical benefits although I only served for a short period of time in the service?
  7. Am I eligible for burial benefits?
  8. How many times can I use my GI home loan?
  9. Is there compensation for disability injuries incurred in the service?
  10. Is there any assistance for having your Discharge upgraded?
  11. Do I have any benefits if I lost a son or daughter in the service?
  12. My father was in the service, do I have any benefits?
  13. How do I or a loved one get into the Federal Recovery Coordination Program?
  14. What does a Federal Recovery Coordinator do?
  15. How Can I Get Help?
  16. I am having difficulty at home, work or school since I returned. Who can I talk to?
  17. Getting to a VA Medical Center is difficult due to my injuries. How can I get help?
  18. What is a Fisher House and can it help OEF/OIF families?
  19. As a returning OEF/OIF woman veteran, am I better off working with an OEF/OIF Program Manager or a Women Veterans Program Manager? Why are there two different program managers to help me find the VA services I need? Should I choose one or both?
  20. I am a female veteran. Where do I go to get services that are suited to women?
  21. I was sexually harassed by someone in my unit, but I was afraid to report it. Does that mean I can.t get any help for the bad feelings I am still having about this?
  22. How can I reach and speak with a chaplain?
  23. How might spiritual care from a chaplain or other clergy person help me?
  24. I don't feel like myself since I came home from Afghanistan. Is this normal?
  25. What should I do if feel so upset that I want to hurt or kill myself?
  26. My family is very concerned about how much I've been drinking since my return. Can the VA help me cut down?
  27. I've been having trouble sleeping and I can't stop thinking about some of the things that happened to me over in Iraq. Do I have PTSD?
  28. I was wounded by an IED blast, and since then I have had problems remembering things and with keeping my mind focused on what I'm reading or doing. Are these problems related to the injury?
  29. Since I've been home, I've been having some serious mood swings. Sometimes I have so much energy that I don't go to sleep for days. Then the next week I'm so down, I can't get out of bed. What is wrong with me?
  30. My wife changed a lot during my deployment, and it's as if we don't even know each other anymore. Is there any help for my marriage?
  31. I am hesitant to go see a therapist and talk about my problems because other people might think I'm crazy and I won't get ahead at work if anyone finds out about it. What should I do?

Benefits

1.  What benefits are available?
Depending on when you served in the military your benefits may vary. There are several programs designed for the disabled veteran who served during a war time period, but did not have any service connected disabilities. These include monthly monetary benefits, hospitalization, and outpatient medical care.


2.  I was not injured in the service. Am I eligible for any benefits?
You may be eligible depending on when you served for a non-service connected pension program for you and your family depending on need. You may also be eligible for medical care, GI home loan, etc.


3.  Are there non-service connected pension payments for veterans of a war time era?
This program will depend on the veteran being totally disabled and also on the amount of income the veteran currently has.


4.  Are there educational/school benefits for veterans and their dependents?
If you paid into the educational program you have 10 years from discharge to use your GI Bill benefits.


5.  Are there any Life Insurance benefits?
There may be, depending on how long you have been out of the service or if you now have a service connected disability. There are time limits on both programs.


6.  Can I receive medical benefits although I only served for a short period of time in the service?
Yes, if you served 24 months or more since September 7, 1980, or if you were released from the service with a medical disability or for medical reasons. Prior to September 7, 1980, you only had to have days in the service for treatment; however, all medical treatment is based on having other than dishonorable service.


7.  Am I eligible for burial benefits?
All veterans who have other than dishonorable service are eligible for burial in a National Cemetery, a grave marker (headstone) and a US Flag for the next of kin.


8.  How many times can I use my GI home loan?
As long as your home loan was paid off, as many times as you need it.


9.  Is there compensation for disability injuries incurred in the service?
Assistance can be provided to assist you develop your claim for these injuries regardless of how long you have been out of the service.


10.  Is there any assistance for having your Discharge upgraded?
Assistance can be provided to assist veterans in obtaining military records to support their claim for discharge upgrade and submission of same.


11.  Do I have any benefits if I lost a son or daughter in the service?
Depending on income, as a surviving parent, you may be eligible for compensation.


12.  My father was in the service, do I have any benefits?
Depending on whether the veteran incurred an injury or illness in the service could provide monthly payments for children under age 18 or under the age of 22 still in school.



Outreach

13.  How do I or a loved one get into the Federal Recovery Coordination Program?
You need to be referred to the program by a doctor, case manager, or commander. You can also self refer or a family member can refer on behalf of a recovering service member or veteran. Visit How Do I Get Help for more information.


14.  What does a Federal Recovery Coordinator do?
A Federal Recovery Coordinator develops a Federal Individualized Recovery Plan with input from the service member or veteran's multidisciplinary heath care team, the service member or veteran, and their family or caregiver. They track the care, management and transition of a recovering service member or veteran through recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration.


15.  How Can I Get Help?
Every VA Medical Center has an OEF/OIF Care Management Team ready to welcome OEF/OIF veterans and help coordinate your care. Visit How Do I Get Help for more information.


16.  I'm having difficulty at home, work or school since I returned. Who can I talk to?
Every VA Medical Center has an OEF/OIF Care Management Team ready to welcome OEF/OIF veterans and help you access care and benefits. Case Managers, who are either nurses or social workers, coordinate patient care activities and help you navigate your way through the VA system. A Transition Patient Advocate (TPA) acts as a personal advocate as you move throughout the VA healthcare system. To contact the OEF/OIF Care Management Team check your local VA medical center web site. You can find the web site using the VA Facility Locator.

Vet Centers provide readjustment counseling and outreach to all veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for their family members for military related issues. Services are provided at no cost to the veteran or family. The 232 community based Vet Centers are located in all fifty states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.


17.  Getting to a VA Medical Center is difficult due to my injuries. How can I get help?
If you can't come to us, we'll come to you. A Transition Patient Advocate (TPA) will travel to your home and meet with you to discuss what the VA can do for you. To contact the OEF/OIF Transition Patient Advocate or OEF/OIF Program Manager, check your local VA medical center web site [VA Facility Locator].


18.  What is a Fisher House and can it help OEF/OIF families?
Fisher Houses are temporary lodging facilities designed for the use of families of hospitalized active duty service members and veterans. They are constructed on military installations and VHA facility grounds by the Fisher House Foundation and then donated to DoD or the VA. Fisher Houses are a "home away from home" that provide a warm, compassionate environment where families find support and encouragement from each other. Visit www.socialwork.va.gov/fisher.asp for more information.



Women Veterans Health

19.  As a returning OEF/OIF woman veteran, am I better off working with an OEF/OIF Program Manager or a Women Veterans Program Manager? Why are there two different program managers to help me find the VA services I need? Should I choose one or both?
Both. The OEF/OIF Program Manager will help you understand all the benefits and services available to you as a U.S. veteran. The Women Veterans Program Manager is a health care professional who serves as an advisor and advocate for women veterans. She works with local VA staff to plan and coordinate health care services for women veterans at VA medical centers and outpatient clinics. She will help you understand the VA system and coordinate the services you may need, from Medical Services to Mental Health to Sexual Abuse Counseling.


20.  I am a female veteran. Where do I go to get services that are suited to women?
There is a Women Veterans Program manager at every VA Medical Center. For more information on the Women Veterans Health Program, read the 'Reaching Out to Women Veterans' Brochure  or visit the Women Veterans' Resources page on the VA Mental Health site.


21.  I was sexually harassed by someone in my unit, but I was afraid to report it. Does that mean I can't get any help for the bad feelings I am still having about this?
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is the term that the Department of Veterans Affairs uses to refer to sexual assault or sexual harassment that occurred while the veteran was in the military. The VA provides free, confidential counseling and treatment to male and female veterans for mental and physical health conditions related to experiences of MST. You do not need to have reported the incident when it happened or have other documentation that it occurred. For more information about MST, visit: [Military Sexual Trauma (Mental Health) | Military Sexual Trauma (Vet Centers)]



Chaplain Service

22.  How can I reach and speak with a chaplain?
There are VA chaplains at all VA medical centers. They are part of the healthcare team that can provide care for you. You can call the nearest VA medical center and ask to speak with a chaplain. If you need to locate the nearest VA medical center, call 1-877-222-VETS.


23.  How might spiritual care from a chaplain or other clergy person help me?
Many veterans find the transition from active duty to civilian status to be very stressful. It requires physical, mental and spiritual readjustments. These adjustments often involve family, work status, health status and potentially, all of life. During the readjustment period, it is not unusual for veterans to question the meaning or purpose of their lives. You might find yourself struggling to make sense of what you have seen, been involved in and survived. You may be concerned about the ways you may have "changed". Sometimes it helps to find someone safe and trustworthy to talk with, someone who will be non-judgmental and keep your conversations confidential. A chaplain or member of the clergy might be a good choice for you. You can talk with a VA chaplain about your condition, illness or traumatic event, and how it affects your life and your relationships with others. Chaplain can help you assess your resources for hope and spiritual strength, as well. That can give you strength to heal and cope. You don't have to go through this soul-searching time alone.



Mental Health

24.  I don't feel like myself since I came home from Afghanistan. Is this normal?
It is normal to have some reactions after returning from a war zone. The following resources will give you some information about what to expect after returning from deployment: [Reintegration]


25.  What should I do if feel so upset that I want to hurt or kill myself?
If you or someone you care about is in crisis, call the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline  at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1. Your call is free and confidential.


26.  My family is very concerned about how much I've been drinking since my return. Can the VA help me cut down?
VA has effective treatments for problems with alcohol, drugs, or smoking. The following resources will give you some information about these problems and their treatment. [VA Treatment Programs for Substance Use Problems  | Alcohol, Drugs, and Smoking]


27.  I've been having trouble sleeping and I can't stop thinking about some of the things that happened to me over in Iraq. Do I have PTSD?
The most common problems of returning veterans are posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. A VA provider can help sort out whether you might have PTSD and can get you started on effective treatments, if needed. The following resources will give you some information about both PTSD and depression: [PTSD and Depression | VA Rolls Out PTSD Therapy Program | Treating Depression ]


28.  I was wounded by an IED blast, and since then I have had problems remembering things and with keeping my mind focused on what I'm reading or doing. Are these problems related to the injury?
A VA provider can assess you and determine what might be causing the problems you're having. For more information on head injury and other serious injuries, visit: [Head Trauma and Serious Injury]


29.  Since I've been home, I've been having some serious mood swings. Sometimes I have so much energy that I don't go to sleep for days. Then the next week I'm so down, I can't get out of bed. What is wrong with me?
Some veterans may experience additional challenges due to mental health problems other than those associated with returning from the war zone. The following resources provide information that may help you or your family to understand more about some specific kinds of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Your VA primary care physician or mental health care provider can answer questions and explain available treatments for these and other disorders. [Mental Illness]


30.  My wife changed a lot during my deployment, and it's as if we don't even know each other anymore. Is there any help for my marriage?
Many returning veterans experience some difficulties with putting their family relationships back on track. The following resource contain some suggestions and strategies to help resolve any "coming home" issues within the family. [Support for Families]


31.  I am hesitant to go see a therapist and talk about my problems because other people might think I'm crazy and I won't get ahead at work if anyone finds out about it. What should I do?
It is unfortunate that some veterans will not get the help they need because they fear the stigma of being labeled as mentally ill. The following resources discuss the advantages of getting treatment for mental health problems. At Vet Centers, counseling is confidential. Also, please be aware that each VA Medical Center has an OEF/OIF Outreach Coordinator who wants very much to have contact with each new veteran. Your coordinator can give you information to help you find the assistance you need. [Getting Assistance]

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