Navigating the road to benefits, health care and other services offered by VA and the federal government can be difficult, frustrating and often confusing. Add that to the fact that each Veteran is different can increase the difficulty of trying to figure out what a person qualifies for or is eligible to receive.

Fortunately, VA has a product that covers it all in one easy-to-read reference – the 2013 Federal Benefits for Veterans Dependents and Survivors handbook. The 206-page book is inclusive to all Veterans and their family members despite their type of service or the era in which they served.  From the Mexican Border War period beginning May 9, 1916 through today, the book offers information on education assistance, disability compensation, pension, home loan guaranty, vocational rehabilitation, life insurance, burial assistance as well as complete listing of VA facilities, addresses, phone numbers and important websites.

Need help adapting a car due to a service-connected disability? You can find that information on page 37. Having problems securing a loan to buy a home? Chapter 6, beginning on page 59, is dedicated to the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program. Read it, know it, and share it with your realtor.

For those still serving and not yet a Veteran, now is the time to read the book and prepare for your transition to civilian life. While Chapter 11 focuses on leaving active duty, numerous other portions of the book dive deeper into the specifics – very helpful things to know before your ETS date. A little time spent reading now could save a lot of frustration later.

The book also describes other federal benefits provided by agencies such as the Housing for Urban Development and the Small Business Administration, which can help you start or expand a small business.

The book is not an unabridged version of VA benefits or all of the laws and regulations that we must follow, but it will give any Veteran, dependent or survivor a very good idea of where to start, what they qualify for and how to get more information.

In 2012, VA published e-book versions of the Benefits Book at This year is no different. For the tech-savvy crowd, we host the book for Android, iPad/iPhone, Kindle and other compatible devices – all free of charge on the VA homepage.

VA also has an agreement with iTunes and the iBookstore, where it is also downloadable at no-cost to you. Just search for “Federal Benefits Book for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors.”

Despite changes in technology, the hardcopy version of the book continues to a valuable outreach tool with well over 2-million copies produced each year and ranking among the top-5 best-selling government publications annually since its  No. 1 rating in 1998.

Hard copies of the book can be found at your nearest VA facility beginning in August.   Ask for a copy during your next visit.

Gary Hicks is a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office Public and Intergovernmental Affairs where he serves as the editor of the federal benefits book for Veterans and the editor for VAnguard Magazine. He is a 15-year Veteran, having served in both the Army and the Air Force.

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Published on Aug. 1, 2013

Estimated reading time is 2.6 min.

Views to date: 214


  1. Otto Ledee August 6, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Excellent to read and must know infoirmation

  2. Charles Ford August 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    Does the book cover the various percentages of ratings the veteran may have? Does it explain his entitlements based on his percentage of compensation?

  3. Gerald Taft August 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    I would love to get a hard copy of this book but the suggestion it is to be “found” at the nearest VA facility does not seem practical. I get an idiot treatment anytime I ask for something from VA workers in Anchorage. It took over two years to registered into the computerized health system and getting on the agent orange registry was another too difficult task. The VA clerical support staff seems an entrenched, unresponsive, unfriendly and self-serving bunch that I HATE to deal with.

  4. Jerry August 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Why can’t we just receive the book thru the mail? A great majority of veterans and dependents do not live near a VA facility or not able to go to one even if they live near one. My mother who is a dependent is an example in this case.

  5. Ken Cadran August 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Where may one find information on chiropractic treatment from the VA?

  6. FRANCIS P. DROHAN August 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    You all have done so well to keep us all informed. My wife and I want to express our deepest
    Gratefulness and Sincerity that the VA really cares about the Vet. Keep up the Care and
    Information to assist us.
    The rest is up to US the VET to stay informed and to maintain good Health.

    Mr & Mrs Francis P. Drohan

  7. Francisco Partida August 2, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I have some service connect injuries which occurred duing my enlistment in the US Marines 1975-1979. I am experiencing areas of pain from these injuries now that I am am older. Am I able to request benefits or service related compensation for these occurrences? From what i have read I am assuming any related injury is subject to compensation. If so how do I get the ball rolling on this matter?

    Francisco Partida

    • Ralph Gilbert August 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Just check with your nearest VA Representative and he’ll have the necessary paperwork for you,

    • Erik August 3, 2013 at 8:15 am

      Francisco- go to, create an account, and apply for service-connected disability compensation (VA Form 21-526EZ). If that doesn’t work you can call 1-800-727-1000 and ask them to mail you the form, or you can print one off the internet here (, or you can go to your nearest VA regional office and fill out the form in person.

    • WendyC August 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Contact your states “Department of Veterans Affairs” or nearly any veterans service organization, (American Legion, DAV, VFW, AmVets…) to ask for assistance. They have trained service officers who will assist you to develop and file a claim at no charge. Check CFR 38 (Criteria for Rating) for your specific issues to determine if you can be considered disabled for your condition. Start gathering your substantiating documents, buddy statements, military records…anything that can help prove your claim as well as marriage/divorce certificates, birth certificates and of course your ever valuable DD214. And most importantly, you will need to show that your condition was either initiated or made worse by your military service…and has been “chronic and ongoing”, in order to be service connected. Beware of folks who offer to assist you with filing a claim for a fee. This Federal Benefits guide will be an invaluable tool for resource information, be certain to access this booklet. Be patient, The claim process is not quick or painless process. Good luck!

    • jeff August 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Calling the va directly is the easiest way to get info on how to apply, as they are actually easy to get answers from. some VSO’s like vfw etc, can help also but Ive found that google and calling va was all I needed to do to get compensated

  8. Jose U. Almeida August 2, 2013 at 10:31 am

    How do I get a copy of the actual Book? Please inform…

    • Robert Wall August 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Each VA Hospital will usually have copies lying around in different sections of the hospital.
      IF you can’t find one – ASK an employee.
      Hopes this helps.

    • Strausbaugh, Michael August 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

      How do I get a copy of the book in print?
      Thank you and have a nice day.

  9. Desiree Babas August 2, 2013 at 8:41 am

    My husband retired at our last duty station here in Okinawa & it would be hard to get this book because we don’t have a VA office here. How else can I get a copy of this book?

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