Your Personal Guide to VA Healthcare in New England - VA New England Healthcare System
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VA New England Healthcare System

 

Your Personal Guide to VA Healthcare in New England

Index

Message from the New England Network Director

This quick reference guide has been organized to support Veterans and their families with information on how to access Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

The VA New England Healthcare System is accessible through the use of 8 medical centers, over 40 community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs), 6 nursing homes and 2 domiciliaries. Our mission is to honor America’s Veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being.

This guide also contains a summary of a broad range of programs and services provided by the VA New England Healthcare System. The information included is intended to serve as a reference guide for Veterans, their families and those who help Veterans access information about VA benefits and services.

Each section provides a brief overview of specific VA benefits. Internet links, phone numbers and addresses are provided for accessing additional information.

In addition, there are sections for Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, women Veterans, homeless Veterans, and contacts for additional Veteran services.

Thank you for your service!
VA New England Healthcare System
Network Director, Ryan Lilly, MPA

Go to Index


New England VA Facilities

 

VA Connecticut Healthcare System

West Haven Campus
950 Campbell Avenue
West Haven, CT 06516
203-932-5711

Newington Campus
555 Willard Avenue
Newington, CT 06111
860-666-6951
www.connecticut.va.gov

The VA Connecticut Healthcare System offers Veterans state-of-the-art technology and clinical services. VA Connecticut encompasses an inpatient facility and ambulatory care center in West Haven and an ambulatory care center in Newington.

In addition to its main facilities, it offers primary care services in six community-based outpatient clinics located in:

  • Danbury, CT
  • New London, CT (John J. McGuirk VA Outpatient Clinic)
  • Stamford, CT
  • Waterbury, CT
  • Willimantic, CT
  • Winsted, CT

The Errera Community Care Center provides a continuum of psychosocial, medical and educational services that range from acute to long-term rehabilitation and includes job training.

The VA Connecticut Healthcare System is affiliated with the Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Connecticut Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. These affiliations allow VA Connecticut to participate in the education and training of more than 675 physicians and dentists each year.

VA Boston Healthcare System

Jamaica Plain Division
150 S. Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02130

West Roxbury Division
1400 VFW Parkway
West Roxbury, MA 02132

Brockton Division
940 Belmont Street
Brockton, MA 02301
800-865-3384
www.boston.va.gov

VA Boston Healthcare System (VA BHS) is a large, integrated organization encompassing three campuses and five community outpatient clinics.

VA BHS serves as a national research and development center for medical research and is a major tertiary care center for the VA New England Healthcare System Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN). Academic affiliations include Harvard Medical School and Boston University Medical School, as well as, numerous other institutions.

In addition to its main facilities, it offers services in five community-based outpatient clinics located in:

  • Boston (Causeway Street), MA
  • Framingham, MA
  • Lowell, MA
  • Plymouth, MA
  • Quincy, MA

VA Maine Healthcare System

1 VA Center
Augusta, ME 04330
207-623-8411
877-421-8263
www.maine.va.gov

The Maine Healthcare System comprises one VA Medical Center (VAMC), 8 community-based outpatient clinics and 3 part-time access point clinics to serve 40,000 Maine Veterans.

The Togus VAMC is a 67-operating bed facility with general medical, surgical, intermediate and mental health beds, and a 100-bed nursing home consisting of 50 skilled and longer-stay beds, and a 50-bed dementia unit.

The oldest Veterans’ facility in the country, having opened in the fall of 1866, Togus is located 5 miles east of Augusta, the state capital.

In addition to its main facility, it offers services in 11 outpatient clinics. These clinics are located in:

  • Bangor, ME
  • Bingham, ME, Access Clinic
  • Calais, ME
  • Caribou, ME
  • Fort Kent, ME, Access Clinic
  • Houlton, ME, Access Clinic
  • Lewiston/Auburn, ME
  • Lincoln, ME
  • Portland, ME
  • Rumford, ME
  • Saco, ME

VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System

421 North Main Street
Leeds, MA 01053-9764
413-584-4040
800-893-1522
www.centralwesternmass.va.gov

VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System provides primary, specialty and mental health care, including psychiatric, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) services, to a Veteran population in central and western Massachusetts of more than 100,000 men and women.

Care is provided at the Northampton VA Medical Center, which has 85 behavioral health beds, a 32-bed nursing home care unit, and a 16-bed substance abuse, compensated work therapy and transitional residence located off-campus.

There is an extensive network of residential settings from board-and-care homes to skilled nursing care. The health care system has affiliations with University of Massachusetts Medical School, as well as with schools in dentistry, nursing, psychology, optometry, occupational therapy, social work, and pharmacy and other health professional and technical fields.

In addition to its main facility in Northampton, the health care system offers services in five community-based outpatient clinics located in:

  • Fitchburg, MA
  • Greenfield, MA
  • Pittsfield, MA
  • Springfield, MA
  • Worcester, MA

Edith Nourse Rogers Veterans Memorial Hospital, Massachusetts

200 Springs Road
Bedford, MA 01730
781-275-7500
800-838-6331
www.bedford.va.gov

The Edith Nourse Rogers Veterans Memorial Hospital (Bedford) complex is composed of one VA Medical Center (VAMC) and three community-based outpatient clinics.

The Bedford VAMC delivers innovative health care, research, and education. Nationally recognized for its mental health and long-term care programs, the Bedford VAMC is the home of the largest vocational service program and transitional residence programs within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

One of the many specialized services available to Veterans includes the Peer Services Program. Peer Services are provided for Veterans by Veterans who act as role models for existing and returning Veterans participating in health care services. Peer Services has recently garnered international attention and Veteran appreciation as a best practice enhancing the health care experience for our nation’s heroes.

The Bedford VAMC is a state-of-the-art medical center that provides a broad range health services, including mental health, medicine, psychiatry, physical rehabilitation, dentistry, geriatrics and ambulatory care. Inpatient services are available in geriatrics, psychiatry and substance abuse.

In addition to its main facility, it offers services at the following sites of care located in:

  • Gloucester, MA
  • Haverhill, MA
  • Lynn, MA

Manchester VA Medical Center, New Hampshire

718 Smyth Road
Manchester, NH 03104
603-624-4366
800-892-8384
www.manchester.va.gov

Located in beautiful Central New Hampshire, the Manchester VA Medical Center (VAMC) opened its doors July 2, 1950. Today it is comprised of one VAMC in Manchester and four community-based outpatient clinics located throughout the state of New Hampshire.

The Manchester VAMC is dedicated to providing high-quality comprehensive outpatient health care to Veterans residing in New Hampshire. Each Veteran who comes to the medical center for care is assured personalized care by a team of health care providers.

A primary care provider coordinates each patient’s medical care, patient education needs and referrals to any of the medical center’s specialty clinics or programs.

The medical center provides a broad range of services in medicine and behavioral health. These services include: 24/7 walk-in urgent care for non-emergencies, primary care, ambulatory surgery, specialty clinics, mental health, home-based primary care, and long-term care. The facility is fully accredited by the Joint Commission.

In addition to its main facility, it offers services in four community-based outpatient clinics located in:

  • Conway, NH
  • Portsmouth, NH
  • Somersworth, NH
  • Tilton, NH

Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island

830 Chalkstone Avenue
Providence, RI 02908-4799
401-273-7100
866-363-4486
www.providence.va.gov

The Providence VA Medical Center (VAMC) comprises one medical center and three community-based outpatient clinics.

The Providence VAMC is dedicated to providing high-quality comprehensive outpatient and inpatient health care to Veterans residing in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Each Veteran who comes to the medical center for care is assured personalized care by a team of health care providers.

A primary care provider coordinates each patient’s medical care, patient education needs and referrals to any of the medical center’s 32 subspecialty clinics.

The medical center’s ambulatory care program is supported by a general medical, surgical and psychiatric inpatient facility fully accredited by the Joint Commission.

The medical center delivers a broad range of services in medicine, surgery and behavioral sciences and is currently operating 73 beds.

In addition to its main facility, it offers primary care and some specialty services in three community-based outpatient clinics located in:

  • Middletown, RI
  • New Bedford, MA
  • Hyannis, MA

White River Junction VA Medical Center, Vermont

215 North Main Street
White River Junction, VT 05009
802-295-9363
866-687-8387
www.whiteriver.va.gov

The White River Junction (WRJ) VA Medical Center (VAMC) comprises one VAMC and seven community-based outpatient clinics.

The WRJ VAMC is located on 64 acres of hillside in the Upper Connecticut River Valley. The facility includes a hospital building, a 47,000-square-foot research building, an ambulatory care building and buildings for clinical and administrative support.

The medical center is a 60-bed acute care facility that provides a full range of primary, secondary and specialty care. Clinical services focus on a comprehensive, compassionate continuity of care. Inpatient beds include 43 medical/surgical beds, 7 ICU beds (medical and surgical) and 10 psychiatry beds. In addition, 4 state-of-the-art operating suites and 6 post-anesthesia recovery beds support WRJ’s active surgery program.

In the summer of 2012, WRJ opened a Women’s Comprehensive Care Center and erected a 24,000-square-foot building to house its Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (SARRTP).

In addition to its main facility, it offers services in seven community-based outpatient clinics located in:

  • Bennington, VT
  • Brattleboro, VT
  • Burlington Lakeside, VT
  • Keene, NH
  • Littleton, NH
  • Newport, VT
  • Rutland, VT

Go to Index


VISN 1 Facilities

Community-Based Outpatient Clinics

Community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) provide access to VA care that is close to a Veteran’s home and community.

Connecticut

Connecticut Healthcare System
www.connecticut.va.gov

West Haven Division
950 Campbell Avenue, West Haven, CT 06516
Phone: 203-932-5711

Newington Division
555 Willard Avenue, Newington, CT 06111
Phone: 860-666-6951

Danbury Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
7 Germantown Road, Suite 2B, Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: 203-798-8422

New London Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
4 Shaw’s Cove, Suite 101, New London, CT 06320
Phone: 860-437-3611

Stamford Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
1275 Summer Street, Suite 102, Stamford, CT 06905
Phone: 203-325-0649

Waterbury Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
95 Scovill Street, Waterbury, CT 06706
Phone: 203-465-5292

Willimantic Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
1320 Main Street, Tyler Square (next to Social Security office) Willimantic, CT 06226
Phone: 860-450-7583

Winsted Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
Winsted Health Center, 115 Spencer Street, Winsted, CT 06098
Phone: 860-738-6985

Maine

Maine Healthcare System
www.maine.va.gov
1 VA Center, Augusta, ME 04330
Phone: 207-623-8411 | 877-421-8263

Bangor Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
35 State Hospital Street, Bangor, ME 04401
Phone: 207-561-3600 I 877-421-8263, ext. 3600

Bingham Access Clinic
241 Main Street, Bingham, ME 04920
Phone: 207-623-8411 I 877-421-8263, ext. 7490

Calais Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
50 Union Street, Calais, ME 04619
Phone: 207-623-8411 I 877-421-8263, ext. 7490

Caribou Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
163 Van Buren Road, Suite 6, Caribou, ME 04736
Phone: 207-623-8411 I 877-421-8263, ext. 7490

Fort Kent Access Clinic
Riverside Medical Office Building
3 Mountain View Drive, Fort Kent, ME 04743
Phone: 207-623-8411 I 877-421-8263, ext. 7490

Houlton Access Clinic
Houlton Regional Hospital, 20 Hartford Street, Houlton, ME 04730
Phone: 207-623-8411 I 877-421-8263, ext. 7490

Lewiston/Auburn Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
1072 Minot Ave, Auburn, ME 04210
Phone: 207-623-8411, ext. 3900 I 877-421-8263, ext. 3900

Lincoln Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
99 River Road, Lincoln, ME 04457
Phone: 207-623-8411 I 877-421-8263, ext. 7490

Portland Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
144 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101
Phone: 207-623-8411 I 877-421-8263, ext. 7490

Rumford Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
431 Franklin Street, Rumford, ME 04276
Phone: 207-369-3200 I 877-421-8263, ext. 3200

Saco Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
655 Main Street, Saco, ME 04072
Phone: 207-623-8411 I 877-421-8263, ext.7490

Massachusetts

Boston Healthcare System
Toll-free: 800-865-3384
www.boston.va.gov

Jamaica Plain Division
150 S. Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
Phone: 800-865-3384

West Roxbury Division
1400 VFW Parkway, West Roxbury, MA 02132
Phone: 800-865-3384

Brockton Division
940 Belmont Street, Brockton, MA 02301
Phone: 800-865-3384

Boston (Causeway Street) Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
251 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 800-865-3384 Fax: 617-248-1282

Framingham Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
61 Lincoln Street, Suite 112, Framingham, MA 01702
Phone: 508-628-0205 Fax: 508-628-8224

Lowell Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
130 Marshall Road, Lowell, MA 01852
Phone: 800-865-3384 Fax: 978-671-9149

Plymouth Outreach Clinic
116 Long Pond Road, Suite 4, Plymouth, MA 02360
Phone: 800-865-3384 Fax: 508-747-8185

Quincy Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
Quincy Medical Center, 2nd Floor, 114 Whitwell Street, Quincy, MA 02169
Phone: 800-865-3384 Fax: 607-376-2015

Hyannis Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
(Affiliated with Providence VA Medical Center)
233 Stevens Street, Hyannis, MA 02601-3766
Phone: 508-771-3190 Fax: 508-771-0940

New Bedford Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
(Affiliated with Providence VA Medical Center)
175 Elm Street, New Bedford, MA 02740
Phone: 508-994-0217 Fax: 508-994-5489

Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital
200 Springs Road, Bedford, MA 01730
Phone: 781-687-2000 I 800-VET-MED1
www.bedford.va.gov

Gloucester Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
Addison Gilbert Hospital, 298 Washington Street,
Gloucester, MA 01930
Phone: 800-VET-MED1 Fax: 978-282-3497

Haverhill Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
108 Merrimack St., Haverhill, MA 01830
Phone: 800-VET-MED1 Fax: 978-372-5089

Lynn Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
225 Boston Street, Suite 107, Lynn, MA 01904
Phone: 800-VET-MED1 Fax: 781-596-2036

VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System
421 North Main Street, Leeds, MA 01053-9764
Phone: 413-584-4040 I Toll-free: 800-893-1522
www.centralwesternmass.va.gov

Fitchburg Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
Health Alliance Burbank Hospital, 275 Nichols Road, Fitchburg, MA 01420
Phone: 800-893-1522

Greenfield Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
143 Munson Street, Greenfield, MA 01301
Phone: 800-893-1522

Pittsfield Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
73 Eagle Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Phone: 800-893-1522

Springfield Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
25 Bond Street, Springfield, MA 01104
Phone: 800-893-1522

Worcester Community-Based Outpatient Clinics
Phone 800-893-1522

Primary Care & Speciality Care
(Geriatrics, Laboratory Testing, Physical Therapy, Radiology, Rehabiliative Medicine, Nutrition, Immunizations, EKGs, Pharmacy) 605 Lincoln Street, Worcester, MA 01605

Specialty Care
(Audiology, Visual Impairment Services, Optometry, Podiatry)
377 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605

Specialty Care & Behavioral Health
(Mental Health, Dermatology, Cardiology, Rhumatology, Neurology, Telehealth, Comp & Pen, MOVE! Program, HUD/VASH)
Lake Avenue North, 55 Worcester, MA 01605

New Hampshire

Manchester VA Medical Center
718 Smyth Road, Manchester, NH 03104
Phone: 603-624-4366 I 800-892-8384
www.manchester.va.gov

Conway Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
71 Hobbs Street, Suite 304, Conway, NH 03818
Phone: 800-892-8384, ext. 3199 Fax: 603-314-1656

Portsmouth Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
Pease International Tradeport, 302 Newmarket Street,
Portsmouth, NH 03803-0157
Phone: 800-892-8384, ext. 3199 Fax: 603-314-1679

Somersworth Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
5 Terrascape Parkway, Somersworth, NH 03878
Phone: 603-624-4366, ext. 3199

Tilton Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
Town Line Plaza, 630 West Main Street, Suite 400
Tilton, NH 03276
Phone: 800-892-8384, ext. 3199 Fax: 603-314-1653

Keene Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
(Affiliated with White River Junction, VT VA Healthcare System)
640 Marlboro Street, Keene, NH
Phone: 603-358-4900 Fax: 603-358-4977

Littleton Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
(Affiliated with White River Junction, VT VA Healthcare System)
685 Meadow Street, Suite 4, Littleton, NH 03561
Phone: 603-444-1323 Fax: 603-444-1324

Rhode Island

Providence VA Medical Center
830 Chalkstone Avenue, Providence, RI 02908-4799
Phone: 401-273-7100 Toll-free: 866-363-4486
www.providence.va.gov

Middletown Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
One Corporate Place (West Main Road at Northgate Road), Middletown, RI 02842
Phone: 401-847-6239 Fax: 401-847-8057

Vermont

White River Junction VA Medical Center
215 North Main Street, White River Junction, VT 05009
Phone: 802-295-9363 I 866-687-8387
www.whiteriver.va.gov

Bennington Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
186 North Street, Bennington, VT 05201
Phone: 802-447-6913 Fax: 802-442-2137

Brattleboro Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
71 GSP Drive, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Phone: 802-251-2200

Burlington Lakeside Community-Based Outpatient Clinic

128 Lakeside Avenue, Burlington, VT 05401
Phone: 802-657-7000

Newport Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
1734 Crawford Farm Road, Newport, VT 05855
Phone: 802-334-9700 Fax: 802-334-9777

Rutland Community-Based Outpatient Clinic
232 West Street, Rutland, VT 05701
Phone: 802-772-2300 Fax: 802-772-2377

Go to Index


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I have to enroll to receive VA health care?

Yes, unless a Veteran is seeking care for a VA-rated service-connected disability or has a service-connected disability of 50% or more.

How can I verify my enrollment for VA health care?

Veterans can verify their enrollment by contacting the local VA health care facility nearest to their home.

If enrolled in VA health care, must I use VA as my exclusive health care provider?

While there is no requirement that VA become a Veteran’s exclusive provider of care, please be aware that the authority to pay for non-VA care is extremely limited.

What is a VA service-connected rating and how do I establish one?

A service-connected rating is an official ruling by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) that your illness/condition is directly related to your active military service. Service-connected ratings are established by VA Regional Offices located throughout the country.

If I have private health insurance can I keep my insurance and use VA health care?

VA encourages Veterans to retain any health care coverage they currently have.

Which Veterans are not required to make copays?

Many Veterans qualify for cost-free health care and/or medications based on:

  • Receiving a Purple Heart Medal
  • Former Prisoner of War (POW) status
  • Compensable VA service-connected disabilities
  • Low income
  • Other qualifying factors, including treatment related to their military service experience

How many copay charges may a Veteran have during a single-day visit to a VA facility?

For outpatient services, Veterans will be charged one copay, regardless of the number of health care providers the Veteran sees in a single day. The amount of the copay will be based on the highest level of service the Veteran received in the single-day visit.

Are hearing aids and eyeglasses available for Veterans?

VA will provide hearing aids and eyeglasses to Veterans who receive an increased pension based on the need for regular aid and attendance or for being permanently housebound, who receive compensation for a service-connected disability or who are former POWs.

Who is eligible for VA dental care?

Veterans who have a compensable service-connected condition, a dental condition resulting from service-connected trauma or a service-connected rating of 100%; who are rated unemployable because of service-connected conditions; who are former POWs; who are participants in a VA vocational rehabilitation program; or who are participants in a homeless Veteran program.

Can Veterans get routine health care at a non-VA facility at the VA’s expense?

VA must provide specific authorization for care outside a VA facility. This service is otherwise known as Fee Basis Care.

Which Veterans qualify for travel benefits?

  • Veterans who have a service-connected rating of 30% or more
  • Veterans traveling for treatment of a service-connected condition
  • Veterans receiving a VA pension
  • Veterans traveling for a scheduled compensation or pension examination
  • Veterans with pre-authorized, arranged travel

VA Health Care Covered Services Acute Care Benefits Package

  • Immunizations
  • Physical examinations
  • Health care assessments
  • Screening tests
  • Health education programs
  • Medical
  • Surgical
  • Mental health
  • Substance abuse
  • Prescription drugs – when prescribed by a VA physician

Go to Index


VA Health Care Enrollment Priority Groups

Upon receipt of a completed application, a Veteran’s eligibility is verified. Based on his/her specific eligibility status, he/she will be assigned to one of the following Priority Groups. The groups range from 1 to 8, with Priority Group 1 being the highest priority and Priority Group 8 the lowest.

Group 1

  • Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 50% or more
  • Veterans determined by VA to be unemployable due to service-connected conditions

Group 2

  • Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 30% or 40%

Group 3

  • Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated 10% and 20%
  • Veterans who are former Prisoners of War (POW) or were awarded a Purple Heart
  • Veterans awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH)
  • Veterans awarded special eligibility for disabilities incurred in treatment or participation in a VA Vocational Rehabilitation program
  • Veterans whose discharge was for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty

Group 4

  • Veterans receiving aid and attendance or housebound benefits
  • Veterans determined by VA to be catastrophically disabled

Group 5

  • Veterans receiving VA pension benefits or eligible for Medicaid programs
  • Nonservice-connected Veterans and noncompensable, 0% service-connected Veterans whose gross annual household income and/or net worth are below the VA national income threshold and geographically adjusted income threshold (GMT) for their resident area

Group 6

  • Veterans exposed to Ionizing Radiation during atmosphere testing or during the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • Project 112/Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) participants
  • Veterans with 0% service-connected disabilities who are receiving disability compensation benefits
  • Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam between 1962 and 1975
  • Veterans of the Persian Gulf War who served between Aug. 2, 1990, and Nov. 11, 1998
  • Veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998, as follows:
    • Veterans discharged from active duty on or after Jan. 28, 2003, who were enrolled as of Jan. 28, 2008
    • Veterans who apply for enrollment after Jan. 28, 2008, for 5 years post-discharge
    • Veterans discharged from active duty before Jan. 28, 2003, who apply for enrollment after Jan. 28, 2008, until Jan. 27, 2011

Group 7

  • Veterans with gross household income below the GMT for their resident location and who agree to pay copays

Group 8

  • Veterans, enrolled as of Jan. 16, 2003, with gross household income and/or net worth above the VA national income threshold and the GMT for their resident location and who agree to pay copays

Note: Because of income relaxation rules implemented on June 15, 2009, Veterans who have a household income above the VA national threshold or the GMT for their resident location by 10% or less and who agree to pay copays, are eligible for enrollment in Priority Group 8.

Go to Index


VA Health Care

VA operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system with more than 1,400 sites of care, including hospitals, community clinics, nursing homes, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers and various other facilities.

For additional information on VA health care, visit: www.va.gov/health

New England VA Facilities: How to Enroll

For most Veterans, entry into the VA Healthcare System begins by applying for enrollment. Once enrolled, eligible Veterans can receive health care at VA health care facilities anywhere in the country.

To apply, complete VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits, which may be obtained from any VA health care facility or regional benefits office, online at https://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply or by calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

Priority Groups: During enrollment, each Veteran is assigned to a priority group. VA uses priority groups to balance demand for VA health care enrollment with resources. Flip to the “Priority Groups” tab.

Special Access to Care

Veterans with service-connected disabilities: Veterans who are 50% or more disabled from service-connected conditions, unemployable due to service-connected conditions or receiving care for a service-connected disability receive priority in scheduling of hospital or outpatient medical appointments.

Combat Veterans: Veterans who served in combat locations during active military service after November 11, 1998, are eligible for free health care services for conditions potentially related to combat service for five years following separation from active duty.

Copays and Charges

There is no monthly premium required to use VA care. You may, however, have to agree to pay copays. If you have other insurance, it may cover the cost of copays.

www.va.gov/healthbenefits

Outpatient Visits Not Requiring Copays: Copays do not apply to: publicly announced VA health fairs; outpatient visits solely for preventive screening and/or immunizations (such as for influenza and pneumococcal disease); screening for hypertension, hepatitis C, tobacco, alcohol, hyperlipidemia, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer (by fecal occult blood test); education about the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening; or smoking cessation counseling (individual and group). Laboratory, flat film radiology and electrocardiograms are also exempt from copays.

Billing Insurance Companies

VA is required by law to bill private health insurance providers for medical care, supplies and prescriptions provided for treatment of Veterans’ nonservice-connected conditions. All Veterans applying for VA medical care are required to provide information on their health insurance coverage, including coverage provided under policies of their spouses.

Travel Costs to Receive VA Medical Care

Certain Veterans may be provided special mode travel (e.g., wheelchair van, ambulance) or reimbursed for travel costs when traveling for approved VA medical care.

Medical Benefits Package – Standard Benefits

VA’s medical benefits package provides the following health care services to all enrolled Veterans.

Preventive Care

  • Immunizations
  • Physical examinations
  • Health care assessments
  • Screening tests
  • Health education programs

Ambulatory (Outpatient) Diagnostic and Treatment Services

  • Emergency outpatient care in VA facilities
  • Medical
  • Surgical (including reconstructive/plastic surgery as a result of disease or trauma)
  • Chiropractic care
  • Mental health
  • Bereavement counseling
  • Substance abuse

Hospital (Inpatient) Diagnostic and Treatment Services

  • Emergency inpatient care in VA facilities
  • Medical
  • Surgical (including reconstructive/plastic surgery as a result of disease or trauma)
  • Mental health
  • Substance abuse

Medications* and Supplies

  • Prescription medications
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Medical and surgical supplies

*Generally, they must be prescribed by a VA provider and be available under VA’s national formulary system.

Services Offered at Vet Center

Vet Center staff provide individual, group, family, military sexual trauma and bereavement counseling. Services include treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or help with any other military-related issue that affects functioning within the family, work, school or other areas of everyday life. Other services include outreach, education, medical referral, homeless Veteran services, employment, VA benefit referral and the brokering of non-VA services.

For additional information, contact the nearest Vet Center or visit www.vetcenter.va.gov. Call 1-202-461-6530 to access bereavement services.

Veteran Health Registries

Certain Veterans can participate in a VA health registry and receive free medical examinations, including laboratory and other diagnostic tests deemed necessary by an examining clinician. VA maintains health registries to provide special health examinations and health-related information.

Gulf War Registry: For Veterans who served in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

Depleted Uranium Registries: VA maintains two registries for Veterans possibly exposed to depleted uranium. The first is for Veterans who served in the Gulf War, including OIF. The second is for Veterans who served elsewhere, including Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Agent Orange Registry: For Veterans possibly exposed to dioxin or other toxic substances in herbicides used during the Vietnam War, while serving in Korea in 1968 or 1969, or as a result of testing, transporting or spraying herbicides for military purposes.

Ionizing Radiation Registry: For Veterans possibly exposed to atomic radiation while on active duty during specified activities.

Project 112/SHAD Participants Registry: Project 112 is the name of the overall program for both shipboard and land-based biological and chemical testing conducted by the U.S. military between 1962 and 1973.

VA provides a physical examination to Veterans who participated in SHAD. In addition, Veterans will receive care at no charge for conditions related to exposure.

To participate, contact the nearest VA health care facility or visit: www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures

Prosthetic/Sensory Aids

Veterans receiving VA care for any condition may receive VA prosthetic appliances, equipment and services, such as home respiratory therapy, artificial limbs, orthopedic braces and therapeutic shoes, wheelchairs, powered mobility, crutches, canes, walkers and other durable medical equipment and supplies.

Hearing Aids and Eyeglasses: VA will provide hearing aids and eyeglasses to Veterans who receive an increased pension based on the need for regular aid and attendance or on being permanently housebound, who receive compensation for a service-connected disability or who are former Prisoners of War (POWs). Otherwise, hearing aids and eyeglasses are provided only when medically necessary.

For additional information, contact the prosthetic representative at the nearest VA health care facility.

CHAMPVA

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of VA (CHAMPVA) provides reimbursement for most medical expenses: inpatient, outpatient, mental health, prescription medication, skilled nursing care and durable medical equipment.

For more information or to find out about eligibility for CHAMPVA, contact the VA Health Administration Center. Call 1-800-733-8387 or visit: www.va.gov/hac

Services for Blind Veterans

Blind and visually impaired Veterans may be eligible for services at a VA Medical Center or for admission to a VA blind rehabilitation center.

Eligible visually impaired Veterans (not blind) enrolled in the VA Healthcare System may receive:

  • A total health and benefits review
  • Adjustment to vision loss counseling and training
  • Low-vision devices and training in their use
  • Electronic and mechanical aids for the visually impaired, including adaptive computers and computer-assisted devices, such as reading machines and electronic travel aids, and training in their use

In addition to the above, blind Veterans enrolled in the VA Healthcare System may receive:

  • Home improvements and structural alterations
  • Specially adapted housing and adaptations
  • An automobile grant
  • Guide dogs, including cost of training for the Veteran to learn to work with the dog
  • Talking books, tapes and braille literature

Dental Care

VA outpatient dental treatment includes the full spectrum of diagnostic, surgical, restorative and preventive procedures. Eligibility is based on specific guidelines.

www.va.gov/healthbenefits

Domiciliary Care

Domiciliary care is a residential rehabilitation program that provides short-term rehabilitation and long-term health maintenance to Veterans who require minimal medical care as they recover from medical, psychiatric or psychosocial problems. VA may provide domiciliary care to Veterans whose annual income does not exceed the maximum annual Improved Disability VA Pension Rate or to Veterans who have been determined to have no adequate means of support.

Call your nearest benefits or health care facility for the latest information.

Emergency Care in Non-VA Facilities

VA may reimburse or pay for medical care provided to certain enrolled or otherwise eligible Veterans by non-VA facilities only in cases of medical emergencies where VA or other Federal facilities were not practically available. Other conditions also apply. To determine eligibility or initiate a claim, contact the VA medical facility nearest to where the emergency service was provided.

www.nonvacare.va.gov

Nursing Home Care (Community Living Centers)

VA provides limited nursing home services to Veterans through three national programs: VA-owned and operated nursing homes, state Veterans’ homes owned and operated by the states, and the Community Nursing Home Program. Each program has admission and eligibility criteria specific to the program.

VA Nursing Homes typically admit patients requiring short-term care, in need of placement for a service-connected disability, or with a 70% or greater service-connected disability (all others are based on available resources).

The State Veterans’ Home Program is a cooperative venture between the states and VA. States establish eligibility criteria for short- and long-term care. Specialized services offered are dependent upon the capability of the home to render them.

The Community Nursing Home Program aims to meet the nursing home needs of Veterans who require long-term nursing home care in their own community, close to their families.

Long-Term Care Services: In addition to nursing home care, VA offers a variety of other long-term care services either directly or by contract with community-based agencies. Such services include adult day health care, inpatient or outpatient respite care, inpatient or outpatient geriatric evaluation and management, hospice and palliative care, and home-based primary care.
Veterans receiving these services may be subject to a copay.

Home Health Services

Skilled home care is provided by VA or through contract agencies to Veterans who are homebound with chronic diseases. Available home health services include nursing, physical/occupational therapy and social services.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is a coordinated program of palliative and supportive services provided in both home and inpatient settings for persons in the last phases of incurable disease so they may live as fully and as comfortably as possible. Services are provided by a medically directed interdisciplinary team of health care providers and volunteers. Bereavement care is available to the family following the death of the patient. Hospice services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Mental Health Care Treatment

Veterans eligible for VA medical care may apply for general mental health treatment, including specialty services such as PTSD and substance abuse treatment.

Contact the nearest VA health care facility to apply.

Military Sexual Trauma

VA health care professionals also provide counseling and treatment to help Veterans overcome psychological issues resulting from sexual trauma that occurred while serving on active duty or active duty for training if service was in the National Guard or Reserves.

Veterans who are not otherwise eligible for VA health care may still receive these services and do not need to enroll. Appropriate services are provided for any injury, illness or psychological condition resulting from such trauma.

Veterans Crisis Line

Veterans experiencing an emotional crisis or who need to talk to a trained mental health professional may call the toll-free Veterans Crisis Line. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers are immediately connected with a qualified and caring provider who can help.

Call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), press 1

My HealtheVet

My HealtheVet offers VA patients a way to gain greater control of their health and connect – online – with their health care team.

My HealtheVet is a free, online personal health record. It is available 24/7, wherever there is Internet access. If you are a VA patient, registered on My HealtheVet and have completed the one-time in-person authentication process, you can:

  • Participate in secure messaging with VA health care team members
  • View key portions of Department of Defense (DoD) military service information
  • Get your VA Wellness Reminders
  • View your VA appointments
  • View VA lab results
  • View VA allergies and adverse reactions
  • Fully participate in future My HealtheVet features

You can use the VA Blue Button to view, print or download your health data that is currently in your My HealtheVet account. You can share this information with your family, caregiver or others. It puts you in control of your information stored in My HealtheVet.

To learn more about My HealtheVet, contact the nearest VA facility in New England. Flip to the “VISN 1 Facilities” tab for the New England Healthcare System’s medical facilities’ websites.

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OEF/OIF/OND Combat Veteran Eligibility

Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn

Five Years of Enhanced Health care

Most Veterans, including National Guard members and Reservists, who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions, are eligible to receive cost-free VA health care for combat-related conditions and enhanced enrollment priority for five years after separation from active duty.

After five years, services are still available for a copay based on income. Combat Veterans not previously enrolled who separated from active duty before January 28, 2003, are eligible for the enhanced benefits until January 27, 2011, after which time they might incur a copay.

Health Care Benefits Under the “Combat Veteran” Authority

  • Cost-free care and medications for conditions potentially related to combat service
  • Enrollment in Priority Group 6, unless eligible for enrollment in a higher priority group; these individuals will not be charged copays for medications and treatment potentially related to their combat service
  • Full access to VA’s Medical Benefits Package

Priority Groups:
During enrollment, each Veteran is assigned to a priority group. VA uses priority groups to balance demand for VA health care enrollment with resources. Flip to the “Priority Groups” tab.

How to Enroll

To take advantage of these health care benefits, you must enroll in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Healthcare System within five years of separation. Do this in person at any New England VA facility or complete VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits, at: www.va.gov/healthebenefits/apply

You can also mail the application to the New England VA facility where you would like to receive your care. Include a copy of your DD 214 (separation document). For a list of New England VA facilities nearest you, flip to the “New England VA Facilities” tab.

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Guard and Reserve Eligibility

Five Years of Enhanced Health care

National Guard members and Reservists currently constitute 50% of returning Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Veterans who use VA services. Mobilized Guard and Reservists called to active duty and serving in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, are eligible to receive cost-free VA health care for combat-related conditions and enhanced enrollment priority for five years after separation from active duty. Combat Veterans who were not previously enrolled but who separated from active duty before January 28, 2003, are eligible for the enhanced benefits until January 27, 2011, after which time they might incur a copay.

Eligibility and Contacts

To determine your eligibility for health care benefits call 1-800-827-1000 or visit: www.va.gov/healthbenefits

Also, every VA medical center and clinic has a team standing by ready to welcome OEF/OIF/OND Service members and Veterans and help coordinate their health care. Call or e-mail the VA facility nearest you.

Flip to the “New England VA Facilities” tab for a list of contacts.

VA Health Care Services

VA provides general and specialized health care services to meet the unique needs of Veterans returning from combat deployments. When you establish care at your local VA medical center or clinic, you will be teamed up with a primary care provider. That provider is part of a team that can help you meet your post-combat health care needs, including specialized services for:

  • Acute illness and chronic disease management
  • Preventive medicine and health maintenance
  • Women’s health concerns
  • Traumatic injury, including brain and spinal cord injuries
  • Post-combat mood changes, anxiety concerns, sleep problems and stress-related difficulties [including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)]
  • Acute and chronic pain management
  • Visual and hearing impairment
  • Alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse

Services may include specialty medical or surgical care; rehabilitative services including vocational rehabilitation, prosthetics, social work and family services; benefits counseling; community resource information; and referral assistance. There is also hospital, outpatient medical, community living center, and community-based residential care.

OIF/OEF/OND Veterans: Where to Get Help in New England

Each VA hospital in New England has a special program designed to meet specific needs of returning OEF/OIF/OND Veterans. To contact an OEF/OIF/OND program staff member at your nearest VA hospital or clinic, flip to the “New England VA Facilities” tab.

For information on VA enrollment or health and dental benefits, call 1-877-222-8387 or visit: www.va.gov/healthbenefits

You may also find information on OEF/OIF/OND programs by visiting the website of the facility nearest you:

Vet centers can also offer help. Find the nearest Vet Center at www.vetcenter.va.gov or call 1-800-827-1000.

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Recovering from Combat Stress

Service members respond to war zone experiences in different ways. Some report feeling upset or “keyed up” even after returning home. Some continue to think about events that happened in combat, sometimes even acting like they were back in a combat situation. These are common “combat stress reactions” that can last for days or weeks, and are a normal reaction to combat experiences.

Below is a list of common reactions:

Behavioral Reactions

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Jumpy and easily startled
  • Being on guard, always alert
  • Bad dreams or flashbacks
  • Avoiding people or places related to the trauma
  • Work or school problems
  • Loss of intimacy or feeling withdrawn, detached and disconnected

Physical Reactions

  • Trouble sleeping, overly tired
  • Stomach upset, trouble eating
  • Headaches and sweating when thinking of the war
  • Lack of exercise, poor diet or health care
  • Rapid heartbeat or breathing
  • Too much drinking, smoking or drug use
  • Other health problems becoming worse

Emotional Reactions

  • Feeling nervous, helpless or fearful
  • Feeling sad, guilty, rejected or abandoned
  • Edginess, easily upset or annoyed
  • Experiencing shock, being numb, unable to feel happy
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Irritable or angry
  • Not trusting others, being overcontrolling, having lots of conflicts

Most who experience combat stress reactions like those listed above will recover naturally over time. Others may continue to struggle with memories of their combat experiences and their reactions. These reactions may create problems that could result in PTSD. If you recognize any of these reactions, it is very important to get help.

Every New England VA facility has a team ready to help. Call OEF/OIF/OND program staff at the VA facility nearest you: flip to the “New England VA Facilities” tab. Vet Centers are another great place to get help. Find the nearest Vet Center at www.vetcenter.va.gov or call 1-800-827-1000.

VA Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is a tax-free benefit paid to a Veteran for disabilities that are the result of or made worse by injuries or diseases that happened while on active duty, active duty for training or inactive duty training.

Eligibility and Payments
If you have a service-related disability and you were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions, you could be eligible for basic benefits ranging from $127 to $2,769 per month, depending on your degree of disability.

How to Apply
You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension. You can also apply online at www.ebenefits.va.gov or you can call 1-800-827-1000 for more information.

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Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal function. Those returning from combat areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan may have suffered a brain injury – some without even realizing it. TBIs can range from mild to severe and can result in short- or long-term problems with independent function.

VA Disability Compensation

The signs and symptoms of TBI can be subtle. Symptoms may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may be missed as returning Veterans may look fine even though they may act or feel differently. Following are some common TBI signs and symptoms:

  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble thinking
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry/double vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Getting Help

If you suspect that you or a loved one has TBI, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Contact the VA facility nearest you. Flip to the “New England VA Facilities” tab for a list of contacts. Additional resources on TBI are available at:

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What Every Veteran Needs to Know About Being Eligible for VA Health Care

You may be eligible! Below are some of the basic factors that go into determining your eligibility for health benefits:

Eligibility for most Veterans’ health care benefits is based solely on active military service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard (or Merchant Marines during WW II), and discharge under other than dishonorable conditions.

Reservists and National Guard members who were called to active duty by a Federal Executive Order may qualify for VA health care benefits. Returning Service members, including Reservists and National Guard members who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations, have special eligibility for hospital care, medical services and nursing home care for five years following discharge from active duty.

  • Health care eligibility is not just for those who served in combat.
  • Other groups may be eligible for some health benefits.
  • Veteran’s health care is not just for service-connected injuries or medical conditions.
  • Veteran’s health care facilities are not just for men only.
  • VA offers full-service health care to women Veterans.

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Women’s Health Services

A place to meet the needs of women Veterans is as close as the nearest VA medical center or your local affiliated community-based outpatient clinics, where they know how to treat women’s health issues and are the health care provider of choice for women Veterans.

The mission of Women’s Health Services is to be a national leader in the provision of health care for women, thereby raising the standard of care for all women.

For more information, go to: www.womenshealth.va.gov

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Women Veterans Program Managers

What Is a Women Veterans Program Manager?

A Women Veterans Program Manager (WVPM) is a health care professional who serves as an advisor and advocate for women Veterans. She is available to help women Veterans access the VA services they need – everything from medical care to mental health services. WVPMs are stationed full time at every VA medical center across the nation. Please contact your local VA facility or visit its website to find the name and contact information for your WVPM.

The WVPM also works to develop women’s health care programs and is committed to continuous quality improvement in the realm of women’s health care at your facility.

Benefits for Women Veterans

Women Veterans are eligible for the same VA benefits as male Veterans, but can also receive additional gender-specific services, including breast and pelvic examinations and other reproductive health care services.

VA provides the following services, which are specific to the treatment of female Veterans:

  • Preconception counseling
  • Contraceptive services
  • Maternity care
  • Infertility treatment
  • Mammography
  • Breast exams
  • Menopause management
  • Pap smears/pelvic exams
  • Some additional specialty gynecological treatment

Referrals are made for needed services that VA is unable to provide.

Non-VA Health Care Services

VA may authorize Veterans to receive care at a non-VA health care facility when the needed services are not available at the VA health care facility, or when the Veteran is unable to travel the distance to the VA health care facility.

Non-VA care must be authorized by VA in advance. Veterans may also obtain services not covered in the benefits package through private health care providers at their own expense.

www.nonvacare.va.gov

General Exclusions

VA cannot provide the following services or benefits:

  • Abortions and abortion counseling
  • Cosmetic surgery; except where determined by VA to be medically necessary for reconstructive or psychiatric care
  • Drugs, biological products and medical devices not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unless the treating medical facility is conducting formal clinical trials under an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) or an Investigational New Drug (IND) application, or the drugs, biological products or medical devices are prescribed under a compassionate use exemption
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Services not ordered and provided by licensed/accredited professional staff
  • Special private-duty nursing

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The VA New England Healthcare System is dedicated to providing the best available programs and services for Veterans facing the challenge of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each of the facilities in the VA New England Healthcare System provides PTSD services.

Contact the nearest VA facility in New England to find out the types of PTSD services that are available or visit one of the websites below:

Who should read this section?

This section is for Service members, Veterans and their families. It will be helpful to concerned peers, friends and command officers who seek to understand and support those who may be struggling in the aftermath of traumatic experiences. Military chaplains, mental health professionals, family service personnel and other military support personnel may also find this section useful.

You Are Not Alone

Experiencing the symptoms of PTSD can be scary and a bit overwhelming for those suffering through it and for their families. But millions of people have recovered from PTSD or have at least reduced their symptoms to manageable levels. Most people who experience troubling symptoms after traumatic experiences recover with or without treatment over weeks or months.

Understanding the nature and patterns of disturbing PTSD symptoms enables those suffering to have more control over their lives.

Reading this section will help you to be informed and to develop a working strategy and some useful actions for recovery.

Traumatic Events

When terrible things happen, people can experience a strong stress reaction. Behaviors change to adapt to the stressful circumstances. In other words, people have an expected, natural and typically healthy stress response to an awful event. The stress reaction also activates both the immune and personality defense systems. And so, the stress response is closely associated with survival.

If a stress response to a critical incident is unusually intense, it may interfere with rational thinking and one’s emotions. It may also overwhelm one’s ability to respond to challenges and it may cause a person to experience significant distress.

Reactions to Traumatic Events

PTSD is not the only reaction to traumatic experiences. Here are some other possible reactions:

  • Memory problems
  • Critical incident stress
  • Anxiety or panic disorders (panic attacks)
  • Depressed mood, guilt and hopelessness
  • Feelings of unreality, feeling outside of oneself (like being in a movie)
  • Substance abuse
  • Brief psychotic reactions
  • Stress-related physical diseases
  • Some personality disorders

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What is PTSD?

PTSD is an emotional and behavioral disturbance that may occur after exposure to an exceptionally stressful, threatening or catastrophic event, such as:

  • Combat
  • Disasters
  • Life-threatening accidents
  • Witnessing violent death or mutilation of others
  • Torture
  • Sexual assault
  • Violent crimes
  • Threat of serious injury or death

Although many children and most adults (nearly 90%) experience at least one intense traumatic event, not everyone develops PTSD. Why is it that not everyone ends up with PTSD?

The reason is probably a combination of factors, including:

  • The intensity, duration and number of traumatic experiences
  • The person’s mental interpretation (meaning) of the experience

Other Contributing Factors to PTSD

  • More exposure to recent horrific events
  • Greater level of personal involvement in a traumatic event
  • Current stressors (illness, death of a loved one, etc.)
  • The individual’s personality
  • A level of anxiety higher than average
  • History of severe traumatic events
  • Reminders of overwhelming childhood traumas
  • Strong feelings of personal responsibility for what happened
  • Intense feelings of guilt
  • Feeling as if one was “outside” his or her body or “in a movie” during the traumatic experience

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Symptoms Associated with PTSD

PTSD cannot occur without an unresolved exposure (direct or indirect) to a horrible event. PTSD has these symptom patterns:

  1. Arousal symptoms: Restless, sleepless, hyper-alert, unable to relax, jumpiness, difficulties concentrating. Arousal symptoms suggest heightened physiological and psychological activation.
  2. Intrusive symptoms: Mental “replays” and dreams in which the person sees, hears, feels, smells, tastes aspects of the event and has repeated bad dreams or nightmares. Sometimes replays appear real, vivid and frightening.
  3. Avoidance symptoms: Shutting off one’s emotions, avoiding reminders such as places, people, conversations and stimuli. Shutting oneself off from the world.
  4. PTSD symptoms last beyond a month. Sometimes, they appear long after the original trauma.
  5. The condition causes significant disruption to and impairment of normal life pursuits (social, school, work and home life).

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Complications in Managing PTSD

Managing PTSD is particularly challenging when combined with any of the following:

  • Multiple traumatic events such as frequent combat experiences
  • Combined military and personal traumatic events
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Grief
  • Serious emotional depression
  • Disabling physical injuries
  • Memory and thinking problems
  • Other mental disorders
  • Physical illness
  • Traumatic brain injury

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Summary: Keeping PTSD in Perspective

Stress activates the immune and personality defense systems. Moderate stress enhances adaptive reactions and survival.

  • Stress reactions turn “on” or “off” as stressful events occur or fade away.
  • Subjective interpretation influences the development of PTSD more than the event itself.
  • PTSD is an acute stress response that became stuck in the “on” position.
  • PTSD is a “super strength version” of the stress response.
  • PTSD is treatable.

Even the most serious PTSD conditions focus on survival – even if that survival comes with the cost of being in pain.

  • The brain interprets the original traumatic experience as extremely dangerous and generates powerful, intrusive memories and images of the traumatic event.
  • These intrusive thoughts discourage a person from going near that type of event again.
  • People with PTSD go to great lengths to avoid any stimuli, emotions or conditions that remind them of the trauma.
  • The brain also causes the entire system to go into a highly aroused state and to be on the lookout for the slightest hint of a traumatic event similar to the one that produced the extreme stress reaction of PTSD in the first place.

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Treatment for PTSD

Both of the following have been shown to be very effective treatments for PTSD. Talk to your VA health care provider if you would like to begin therapy.

Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) has four main parts:

  • Learning about your PTSD symptoms
  • Becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings
  • Learning skills to help you question or challenge your thoughts
  • Understanding changes in beliefs

In CPT, you work with a therapist to reach your goals (about 12 sessions). You will also have the chance to practice your new skills outside of your meetings. The more you practice, the sooner they will begin working. By approaching your experiences in a different way, you will be able to decide how your past affects your future.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Prolonged Exposure (PE) has four main parts:

  • Education about the treatment
  • Breathing retraining to help you relax
  • Real world practice (approaching situations that are safe but you may have been avoiding because they are related to the trauma)
  • Talking through the trauma to help you make sense of it and have fewer negative thoughts about the trauma

In PE, you work with a therapist to approach trauma-related situations and memories at a comfortable pace (about 8-15 90-minute sessions). Usually, you start with things that are less distressing and move toward things that are more distressing.

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Important Points to Keep in Mind

For the Significant Other:

  • Become educated about PTSD.
  • Let each member of the family express his or her
    concerns and ask questions.
  • Listen to treatment providers.
  • Let your loved ones know you care about them.
  • Spend time with people. Coping is easier with support from others, including extended family, friends and church groups or sports groups.
  • Do not forget nourishment, exercise and rest.
  • Maintain routines such as having dinner together, family outings, etc.
  • Sometimes a family needs professional guidance to work through PTSD in one member.

For the Veteran

  • PTSD may not be the cause of your symptoms. Make sure you get a professional evaluation to determine if you have PTSD or some other condition. Many other physical or emotional conditions can cause stress symptoms or accompany PTSD.
  • Do not wait until symptoms become severe. Treatments
    can provide considerable relief from less intense symptoms.
  • Let your doctor know about your traumatic event and any significant symptoms you are having. Ask for a referral to
    a traumatic stress specialist.
  • Do not self-treat, especially if your symptoms are severe.
  • PTSD can be complicated and professional guidance is important.

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VA Programs for Homeless Veterans

One-third of adult homeless men and nearly one-fifth of all homeless adults have served in the Armed Forces. The VA offers a wide array of special programs and initiatives specifically designed to help homeless Veterans live as self-sufficiently and independently as possible. VA is the only Federal agency that provides substantial hands-on assistance directly to homeless persons. VA’s major homeless-specific programs constitute the largest integrated network of homeless treatment and assistance services in the country.

Programs and Initiatives

Healthcare for Homeless Veterans
The Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program is an essential and critical part of VHA, providing a gateway to VA and community supportive services for eligible Veterans who are homeless. HCHV programs provide outreach services in community locations to engage homeless Veterans who have been underserved and disenfranchised. Many HCHV programs now serve as the hub for a myriad of housing services and other services that provide VA a way to connect with and assist homeless Veterans by offering them entry to VA care.

National Call Center for Homeless Veterans
VA has founded a National Call Center for Homeless Veterans to ensure that homeless Veterans or Veterans at risk for homelessness have free, 24/7 access to trained counselors. The hotline is intended to assist homeless Veterans and their families, VA medical centers, Federal, state and local partners, community agencies, service providers and others in the community. Contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877-424-3838.

Department of Housing & Urban Development/VA Supportive Housing
The Department of Housing and Urban Development/VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program provides permanent housing and ongoing case management and treatment services to homeless and vulnerable Veterans who require these supports to live independently. HUD has allocated over 30,000 “Housing Choice” Section 8 vouchers to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) throughout the country for eligible homeless Veterans. This program allows Veterans and their families to live in Veteran-selected apartment units. The vouchers are portable, allowing Veterans to live in communities where VA case management services can be provided.

HCHV Emergency Shelter Beds
The primary purpose is to provide temporary shelter for homeless Veterans in general or for specific populations of homeless Veterans (e.g., victims of domestic violence, single men/women, youths, etc.). Contracted facilities provide 24-hour staffing, laundry services, transportation, medication management, living skills and discharge planning in coordination with ongoing VA services. The length of stay can range from 1 night up to as many as 90 days.

For more information on the Veterans Homeless Program, contact the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at
877-424-3838 or visit one of the websites below:

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Contacts

VA National Contacts

VA Information
1-800-827-1000

Apply for Health Care Benefits (10-10EZ)
1-877-222-8387
www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply

Veterans Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255, press 1

National Call Center for Homeless Veterans
1-877-424-3838

Benefits Administration
1-800-827-1000
www.vba.va.gov

Education Benefits (GI Bill)
1-888-442-4551
www.gibill.va.gov

VA Life Insurance
1-800-669-8477

Burial Benefits
1-800-697-6947
www.cem.va.gov

CHAMPVA
1-800-733-8387

Home Loans
1-888-244-6711
www.homeloans.va.gov

New England State Veterans Affairs Offices

Connecticut
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
287 West Street, Rocky Hill, CT 06067
860-616-3600

Maine
Bureau of Veterans’ Services
163 Mt. Vernon Road, Augusta, ME 04330
207-430-6035

Massachusetts
Department of Veterans’ Services
600 Washington St., 7th Floor, Boston, MA 02111
617-210-5480

New Hampshire
Office of Veterans Services
275 Chestnut Street, Room 517, Manchester, NH 03101-2411
603-624-9230

Rhode Island
Division of Veterans Affairs
480 Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI 02809
401-254-8495

Vermont
Office of Veterans Affairs
118 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05620-4401
Toll-free in Vermont only: 888-666-9844
802-828-3379

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