If you took a look at the document discussed in yesterday’s blog post, you may have noticed that it frequently referenced another handbook, the “Wounded, Injured, and Ill Compensation and Benefits Handbook.” The handbook is a DoD publication designed for, clearly, wounded, injured, and ill servicemembers. However, after taking a look at the 2014 version of the publication, I believe it has information that would be beneficial to servicemembers, veterans, and their families, even if they are all completely healthy.
Since it is geared towards wounded, injured, and ill members, the handbook starts out covering topics relevant to this group. Specifically, it goes over wounded warrior units, TRICARE options, travel pay for medical treatment, caregiver pay, and other recovery and transition information. After about the first twenty pages, the information transitions to more broadly applicable information, such as VA healthcare enrollment, VA education benefits, and veterans life insurance. There are a couple of areas that I think are particularly well explained or which can be useful to a large number of servicemembers and veterans. For example:
- Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP): When my husband retired, we were given a ton of paperwork, some of which I’m sure covered the SBP. However, what we got actually got told about it was pretty much limited to “It’s expensive” and “Both servicemember and spouse have to agree on whether to take it or not.” Both of these things are true, at least in part, but there’s a lot more to SBP that should be taken into consideration before a retiring servicemember decides whether this is a good option for his/her family. It is particularly important to research this early because, should you decline it, your choice is irrevocable. This handbook goes over the various options for SBP – spouse only, spouse and child, child only, etc – costs, and the specific (and sometimes plain strange) details of each plan.
- Applying for Social Security: While yesterday’s resource goes over how VA benefits and SSDI/SSI work together, today’s handbook has a great list on what documents you should gather together before you go apply for social security.
- Education information: In addition to giving a basic overview of the various VA education benefits, the handbook talks about a few additional resources, such as the Veterans Upward Bound program, which helps prep vets for college with services like FAFSA application assistance and remedial course refreshers, and Troops to Teachers, specifically how you can apply and even be placed while still on active duty.
- DD Form 2586: Also called the Verification of Military Experience and Training or VMET, this document lists every training you completed on active duty, recommended college credit, and even job title equivalencies, and is a key document for helping to create a resume or a LinkedIn or other such profile. The handbook goes over how to request it and, if applicable, how to get any errors or omissions fixed.
- VA Healthcare and MST: Military Sexual Trauma has taken center stage in recent years and is treated differently by VA than other healthcare. For most VA healthcare eligibility, a veteran must have an “other than dishonorable” discharge, meet minimum time-in-service requirements, and can receive free healthcare only for proven service-connected conditions or under certain income restrictions. Almost ALL of these requirements are waived for individuals who have suffered MST, even if it wasn’t reported while on active duty.
- CHAMPVA: Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a program available to certain spouses and dependents of “total and permanently” disabled veterans, surviving family members, and caregivers. This handbook goes over the details of who qualifies for this program and what this insurance covers. (You can find a little about how this benefit applies to dependents using VA education benefits in my previous post on the subject.)
There are only a few of the topics covered in this handbook’s 68 pages. You can take a look at the full document here.
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