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Frequently Asked Questions

How to: Enroll in the VA

Eligibility for VA health care is dependent upon a number of variables, which may influence the final determination of the services for which you qualify. These factors include the nature of a veteran's discharge from military service (e.g., honorable, other than honorable, dishonorable), length of service, VA adjudicated disabilities (commonly referred to as service-connected disabilities), income level, and available VA resources among others.

Generally, you must be enrolled in VA health care system to receive benefits offered in the Medical Benefits Package. To apply for VA health care benefits, including enrollment you must fill out an application. We use the application to determine:

Whether you have qualifying service as a veteran
What your veteran status is so that you can be placed into one of the Priority Groups

For more information visit:

How to: Upgrade my discharge from 'other than honorable to honorable'

If the discharged veteran would like to "upgrade" their discharge, he or she should complete DD FORM 293 and send to the appropriate address listed at the bottom of page 2 of the form. However, if the veteran was discharged over 15 years ago, he or she must petition the appropriate Board for Correction of Military Record using DD FORM 149, Application for Correction of Military Record Under the Provisions of Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 1552. (Note: As of April 19, 2011, review boards are taking approximately 1 year to make a decision)

How to: Apply for benefits with the VBA (process overview)

Why use a 3rd party when applying? (VFW, Order of the Purple Heart, Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, etc.)

The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) does not advocate on behalf of the veteran with their claim(s). Organizations (like the DAV, VFW and etc.) are certified with the DVA to provide advocacy at no cost to the veteran. They adjudicate numerous claims each day and as a result are well-versed with the current rules and regulations of the DVA.

What things should I claim?

A veteran should claim any issue which they have medical evidence from their time in the military that they are still having issues with today.

"The first step in filing your claim is to confirm you're eligible for compensation. Then, after you've signed a VA Form 21-22, a VFW Service Officer can contact you to begin developing your case. Two key elements to a well-rounded claim include evidence that an injury, illness or disease occurred during your service and evidence of a current medical condition as a direct result."
    - VFW

Webpage Resources:

How long does it take?

The process varies depending on the veteran's case as all Veterans are different. According to the Portland VA Regional Office, as of April 19, 2011, claims are taking about 3 to 5 months for a decision to be rendered.

What problems may happen or be experienced with Compensation and Pension (Comp & Pen)?

This is a vague question as there are many stages to Compensation and Pension. Our best advice for the veteran would be to respond immediately to the Veterans Administration.

Are there any women's resources for Veteran's with the VA?

Here is a good link to the VA for Women's Resources:

Are there spousal benefits for legally married GLBT military (active or retired) couples?

(Retirement, medical, chapter 38, etc.)

There will be no changes at this time to eligibility standards for military benefits, including applicable definitions. Service members and their opposite-sex spouses receive a range of entitlements and benefits depending on eligibility. The Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. 7, and the existing definition of "dependent" in some laws, prohibit extension of many military benefits-such as medical care, travel and housing allowances, and other benefits-to same-sex couples.

All Service members will continue to have various benefits for which they may designate beneficiaries in accordance with the rules governing each program. Some Service members may not have taken full advantage of these designations prior to repeal of DADT. The Services will reemphasize the opportunity to designate beneficiaries for these benefits to all its Service members. Such benefits include the following:

  1. Service Member's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) Beneficiary
  2. Post Vietnam-Era Veterans Assistance Program (VEAP) Beneficiary
  3. G.I. Bill Death Beneficiary
  4. Death Gratuity Beneficiary
  5. Final Settlement of Accounts Beneficiary
  6. Wounded Warrior Act Designated Caregiver
  7. Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Beneficiary
  8. Survivor Benefit Plan Beneficiary

What are my options when it comes to reenlisting if I was kicked out under DADT?

Upon repeal, former Service members who were discharged solely under 10 U.S.C. 654 and its implementing regulations may apply to re-enter the Armed Forces. They will be evaluated according to the same criteria and Service requirements applicable to all prior-Service members seeking re-entry into the military at that time. There will be no preferential treatment for Service members separated solely under 10 U.S.C. 654 and its implementing regulations. They will be processed as any other re-accession applicant under Service policies. Services shall continue to consider a Service member's previous performance and disciplinary record when determining suitability for re-entry.

How does the overturning of DADT affect my National Guard or Reserve unit status?

The repeal of DADT allows for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual (GLB) applicants entry into all services, regardless of their sexual orientation. GLB applicants are to be treated the same as all applicants, and that doesn't affect status in Guard, or Reserve units.

For further resources and links to Veterans services, organizations and support groups, please visit our Resources & Links section.

Veteran News & Events
How To Determine If VA Will Recognize My Marriage?
Have questions about VBA benefits for same-sex spouses? Click here: for information regarding the recent changes in the law. The VA will provide what is necessary for VA to recognize a Veteran's marriage under section 103(c) for purposes of Veterans' benefits. The publications will include a brief history of Windsor and the President's directive and will explain how VA is implementing section 103(c).