If you or a family member previously served in the military, you may qualify for a veteran pension or other benefits. Programs are available that provide health care, disability, education and more.

Explore whether you qualify for veteran benefits and learn more about how to access these benefits.

VA health care eligibility

If you served in either the military, air or naval U.S. service and received other than a dishonorable discharge, you may qualify for health benefits through the Veteran Administration. Anyone who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served their full active duty period and/or 12 consecutive months to qualify, unless he or she:

  • Served before September 7, 1980
  • Received a hardship discharge
  • Received a disability discharge

Even if you have private health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, you can still qualify for VA benefits. In addition, former military members who do not qualify for VA health care may still receive treatment for physical or mental health problems linked to sexual trauma while in the military, depression, substance abuse and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.

High-priority eligibility

Certain service members and veterans receive special priority for health care eligibility. This includes those who:

  • Served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975
  • Received a recent discharge as a combat veteran
  • Received discharge for a disability that arose or worsened in the line of duty
  • Receive a VA pension
  • Received a Purple Heart or a Medal of Honor
  • Served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days from August 1953 through December 1987
  • Served in the Gulf War in Southwest Asia between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998

If you are eligible for benefits based on the service criteria above, you can apply for health care through the VA online. You can also call the VA hotline at 800-827-1000 to learn more about potential benefits. The line is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time.