One of the most common things I hear from fellow Veterans is “I don’t know what benefits I qualify for.” is admittedly clunky and confusing (something we’re looking to fix), and there are many websites that promote bad or inaccurate information about Veterans benefits. It’s no wonder that many folks have questions about what they’re entitled to after leaving the service.

To help answer some of those questions you may have, VA’s Benefits Book for 2011 is available online, both in PDF format and broken down by chapter. Topics like health care benefits, education and training, home loan guarantees and burial benefits are covered. I suggest starting with the introduction page, which gives some general information and a hefty list of acronyms that should provide useful. A directory of phone numbers and websites is also helpful. And if you would rather have a Spanish language handbook, here’s a link to the 2010 version. The updated book should be out in the coming weeks.

Physical copies of the handbook should be available at your local VA facility at the end of August.

Share this story

Published on Jul. 6, 2011

Estimated reading time is 0.9 min.

Views to date: 215


  1. mkv to avi August 19, 2011 at 3:11 am

    I’m Cat 8 and signed a waiver to be bill for CoPays of either $15 or $50 depending on which health service I get. Thanks

  2. android developers August 4, 2011 at 12:27 am

    . I encourage you all to join the Facebook group and read the many stories on how our vets are suffering loss of loved ones, homes, jobs, limbs, and life while waiting on this government..I have not been to see my siblings in years in person. I dont know what to do to appeal the ratings and i am considering a lawyer,but they will rake us vets over the coals. Help

  3. derek brooks August 3, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Igot out and claimed in 94,got 40%. 5 10 percents. the main mental health one which is panic disorder which eventually turned to a form of ptsd s the biggie. the doctors say i should be rated 40 alone on mental. Im lucky to hold a job. But i cannot drive further than my own town. i get terrified hetting ln a major freeway or interstate. I have not been to see my siblings in years in person. I dont know what to do to appeal the ratings and i am considering a lawyer,but they will rake us vets over the coals. Help

  4. shaani July 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    there are many jobs in Pakistan that are permanent sector jobs and private sector jobs.
    peoples love to search jobs on the internet and get suitable job of their dreams.

  5. Drexel July 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Obama and his administration are more worried about gays serving in the military than carrying for the vets who gave life and limb. The proof is all over this page and many others. I encourage you all to join the Facebook group “The VA Sucks” and read the many stories on how our vets are suffering loss of loved ones, homes, jobs, limbs, and life while waiting on this government was made sacrifices for.

  6. Retired Navy Chief July 14, 2011 at 7:19 am

    The VA is a Government program and like all Gov. programs…….slow to move and make good on what they say do and what they really do for the Vet.

    I get billed for local VA health primary care even though I got Tricare for Life and Medicare “B”

    I’m Cat 8 and signed a waiver to be bill for CoPays of either $15 or $50 depending on which health service I get. and then my TriCare will pay the CoPays. But, NO it does not work and I still get billed!

    I must train and teach these people in billing and send to them the facts and code.

    I still get bills and I still keep hearing dumb talk from them.

    So, I e-mailed the VA head quarters and the e-mail would not go through.
    So much for getting this resolved.

    typical Government

    • Drexel July 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm

      I found the VA was billing my civilian insurance provider I had with my employer for service connected care. They did this for over two years before I found out and reported it.

      I’ve contacted my congressman three times over the years with help on my claims and each time things went much faster. Call and write your congressperson. They all have webpages now. Don’t make up any stories and stick to the facts that you can prove and you will be surprised at how fast your claim will move. The first time the VA said they made in mistake, but after two years of fighting with them I had to file a congressional complaint to get any action, then it was approved within two weeks. Recently I had a a problem with a claim and it was completed within two weeks after contacting him.

  7. Richard Hom July 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    My suggestion would be to obtain the services of a veteran organization that has representatives that assist Veterans with their claims; they will help you to cut through some of the red tape. Don’t ever believe that the VBA is going to work hard to obtain all of your documentation to support your claim; you will need to obtain this information and submit it yourself. I send all of my documentation certified mail to ensure I have a signed document that the information has been received. I also call the VBA regional call center at least twice a month and submit an electronic status request through IRIS. I have also had to get my congressman and senator involved, this is a battle that we are fighting, use all of the resources available to make sure you win, as you would have in combat. We are the American Soldier and not even the VBA is better than use, we will prevail.

    MSG Hom (Retired)

    • Chris July 26, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      MSG Hom,
      The burden of proof of disability is upon the claimant. The VA has a duty to assist, which is explained in a VCAA letter that is sent to every claimaint. I am sure that you didn’t get to be a MSG without being properly prepared for every challenge that you faced. Knowing that it is the claimaints responsibility to provide documentation for thier claim, why would anyone expect the VA to do the work for them. The VA will make every attempt to get all records that claimant says are pertinant, but all to often the VA sends letters to private physicians for records and never recieves a response. The properly prepared claimant will go to his/her doctor and obtain the record themselves, and then submit all needed information with the claim. There is a new process for original filers that allows a 21-526EZ to filed on cases where the veteran has done his part and gathered the evidence already. These are the claims that are being decided 120 days, not the ones where the veteran depends on the VA to gather the evidence that take forever to develop. If the claimant would do the leg before filing, then the backlog would be greatly reduced. As long as the VA recieves more claims than they can complete monthly and then combine that with all the claimants that don’t do any leg work to help thier own cause, the VA will never get caught up.

      Veteran Service Rep
      National Call Center

  8. dan moran July 12, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    are they ever going to give those of us that are retired our disability benefits without taking it out of our pay? If you are less than 50% it comes out of your retirement. What about the rest of us?

    • Drexel July 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

      No. I took an early out with a severance package that had nothing to do with my disability. When my disability was approved I couldn’t start receiving payments until the severance pay was paid back. To me that is even worse the disability pay and retirement. The government always finds a way to screw its vets. You’ll also notice they screw you in the way they do math with your disability rating. 30% + 40% = 55% to the VA.

      BOHICA brothers. Bend Over Here It Comes Again.

      • Chris July 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

        Severance pay is a lump sum payment made at the time of discharge for a disability incurred during service that led to your discharge. Being that you quoted the disbility rating schedule, I would guess that you have 2 service related conditions. Per US 38CFR 3.7000, recoupment is only for the condition that you were awarded the disability severance for. If you were given the severance for a knee condition and you filed a claim for a knee condition, then due to “double dipping” laws you have to repay the severance first. Severance is an advance against future earning that may be affected in the future. If you have a knee condition and a arm condition, and your total compensation is being recouped, then you need to immediately contact 1-800-827-1000 and let someone know, That is a “clear and unmistakeable error” and you are due the moneies withheld for your arm condition.

        Veteran Service Rep
        National Call Center

  9. Jon July 7, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Thanks Alex,
    The Benefits Book is a great resource. It’s the easiest to read publication/ information from the VA concerning benefits. Not perfect mind you, but better than most other resources. What would be great is a single application, and the VA will determine what benefits you may be entitled to (healthcare, disability, education, etc.) instead of 6 page applications for every seperate silo within the VA.

    • Alex Horton July 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      Jon, good idea. I hope the next edition can be fully customizable so you can filter out the stuff you don’t want or need.

    • Chris July 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      The VA will never decide for you what you should file for. The best action that any veteran can do him/herself, is to request a copy of your service treatment records and go thru them page by page. Notate every sick call you went to. Note your blood pressure readings. File your claim for every illness you can document with your records. You can request a copy of your STR’s by calling 1-800-827-1000

  10. Glenn Tatham July 7, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Matt, get with the Disabled American Veterans organization in your area. I know those guys really help all veterans with claims to the VA. We have had very good success with the VA in Missouri and I have met people from New York State at the National Convention. They are committed as we are in helping our troops getting assistance through the VA.

  11. VAcan'tbetrusted July 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Why would any veteran trust using the VA if the VA ignores sexual assaults committed at their facilities?

    Preventing Sexual Assaults and Safety Incidents at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Facilities:

    Opening Statement By Hon. Ann Marie Buerkle, Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Health, and a Representative in Congress from the State of New York:

    “Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a deeply troubling report entitled “VA Health Care: Actions Needed to Prevent Sexual Assaults and Other Safety Incidents.” GAO found that between January 2007 and July 2010, nearly 300 sexual assault incidents, including 67 alleged rapes, were reported to VA police. Many of these alleged crimes were not reported to VA leadership officials or the VA Office of the Inspector General, in direct violation of VA policy and federal regulations. “

  12. Matthew Coon July 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I was injured back in 2009. medically sent packing form the Marine Corps in 2010 and have been waiting the long 17 months and counting to this day. The wait is completely uncalled for and the excuses that the NYC office come up with are brutal.

    • Chris July 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm


      If it has been more than 90 days since you have recieved coorespondence, call 1-800-827-1000 ask for an inquiry to be sent to the regional office for a status update. If you are experiencing a financial hardship, gather any evidence of the hardship (cut-off notices, eviction/foreclosure notice, repo notice, etc…) and call 800-827-1000 and tell them you want to file a hardship. They will send paper to the regional office and they will provide you with a fax number to your regional office. Be sure to fill out a VA 21-4138, statement in Support of Claim to submit with your evidence. This will help expedite your claim.

      Veteran Service Rep
      National Call Center

  13. Norman Mendoza July 6, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    That is not correct. Check your DD214 For Vietnam Service. They need to at least enroll you for agent orange exam!!

  14. Joe Hutchinson July 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I applied for Agent Orange and I was in the Korea and Vietnam War retired 22 yrs of service and they tell me I’m not qualified to draw benefits..something is wrong with this picture.

    • S. Clark July 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

      Stay encouraged and keep applying. I know two people who recently got war related benefits. One was for Desert Storm and it took him at least 8 years. The other gentleman was a Vietnam Vet who served TWO tours. VA examined him late last year and he just got his benefits in June.

    • Chris July 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm


      There are 3 requirements for herbicide exposure. They are:
      In an Agent Orange-based claim by a Vietnam veteran for service-connected benefits, VA requires:
      1. a medical diagnosis of a disease which VA recognizes as being associated with Agent Orange.
      2.competent evidence of service in Vietnam (Vietnam Service Medal)
      3.competent medical evidence that the disease began within the deadline for the conflict period.
      The diseases are listed at this address:

      Veteran Service Rep
      National Call Center

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Here are the most asked questions and answers about Long COVID. Also, a list of many of the symptoms. Use this list to tell your clinician or care team.

  • Check in for your appointments using your smartphone allows you to practice physical distancing while offering ease and convenience.

  • Today, VA named finalists and Promise Award recipients in Mission Daybreak—a $20 million challenge to help VA develop new suicide prevention strategies for Veterans.