Q: I will soon be retiring from my career civilian job. I will not be able to continue my health insurance through my employer after I retire. I have never applied for VA Health Care since my employer has always made health insurance part of my employment package. I served from 1968 to 1972 in the Army, and have not been in the military for over four decades. Can I still receive health care through the VA?

A: There is no deadline for applying for VA Health Care. Eligibility for VA Health Care is complicated. Veterans discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable may qualify for VA health care benefits. The length of service requirements vary by when the veteran served and may be waived for veterans discharged for hardship, early out or a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

Veterans of military service from 1968 to 1972 should expect that their length of service requirement would be 30 or 90 days depending on the end date of service. However, the government added a “means” test in 2003 based upon the income of the veteran at the time of application for VA Health care. Income over a certain amount likely would result in ineligibility for VA Health Care. However, any veteran granted a service-connected disability rating is eligible for VA Health Care regardless of income.

“Boots on the ground” veterans of service in Vietnam should apply for VA Health Care benefits even if they have been denied in the past due to the means test.

Enrollment is easy utilizing VA form 10-10EZ and can be completed at http://www.va.gov/1010ez.htm or by calling 877-222-VETS (8387) Alternatively, contact a Veterans Service Office at your local Veterans Assistance Commission or at the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Office for help in obtaining and completing the 10-10EZ form. You must have a DD214 form Separation from Active duty to accompany the application.

Q: I recently completed my four-year enlistment in the Army. I served in the infantry and had three deployments to the Middle East. I have decided not to use the G.I. Bill for education right now. I have applied for jobs with little success. After not working for several weeks since my separation from active duty, I am unemployed. Can I receive unemployment benefits based on my military service work?

A: Veterans who do not begin civilian employment immediately after leaving military service may receive weekly unemployment compensation for a limited time. The amount and duration of payments are determined by individual states and would be affected if and when, the veteran began using the G.I. bill for education.

Apply for unemployment compensation by contacting the nearest state employment office listed in your local telephone directory. To apply for unemployment compensation, a veteran must complete the state Employment Service Registration Requirement that requests the IDES to assist the veteran to find work. The nearest Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) office is in Peoria at 406 Elm St. The toll-free telephone number is 800-244-5631.

Did you know?

Many veterans have chronic conditions for which they take medication. In most cases, the veteran does not need to go to the VA Medical Center or community-based outpatient clinic to have a prescription filled. Mail-order VA prescriptions are delivered directly to the veteran at his or her home. The VA Mail Order Pharmacy processes 460,000 prescriptions daily. Every workday, over 316,000 veterans receive a package of prescriptions in the mail.

Veterans Corner publishes Monday. Content is provided by the McLean County Veterans Assistance Commission, 200 W. Front St., Bloomington, IL 61701; call 309-888-5140.