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VA outreach for underserved veterans

Veterans in California who were other-than-honorably discharged usually do not qualify for VA benefits. These veterans often need help for trauma related to their service, and suicide and substance abuse is common in this group. The VA has started a new program to allow these veterans to come to the VA for mental health care.

The VA reports that 115 veterans have used the program. This number is disappointing to many since it represents a small fraction of those who qualify. Some groups blame the VA for failing to reach out to veterans who may be in need of services. Of the 115 veterans who have participated in the program so far, 25 were in San Diego.

New legislation is likely to extend mental health coverage beyond the 90 days the first program has offered for veterans who are in need of mental health care because of service-related mental illness. It is not yet clear how the new program will work.

An attorney may be able to advise those who have questions about qualifying for veteran benefits. Some veterans may be eligible to receive payments for medical costs related to mental health care who were not eligible in previous years. Families of veterans may qualify for benefits as well.

Legal matters like estate planning may be different for veterans than it is for civilians who have never served in the military. An attorney may be able to advise adult children who are caring for elderly parents who served in the military regarding what services may be available to them, such as how they may qualify for help with assisted living costs. The new mental health program was enacted in an effort to help veterans who may need mental health services regardless of their discharge status. An attorney familiar with recent legislation may be able to advise veterans and their families about the most up-to-date benefits that are available to them.

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