Members of the U.S. Military and U.S. Veterans have access to specific benefits, programs, and resources that may be useful after a cancer diagnosis. It is valuable to access the benefits available to you and to understand how they may work with other benefits that you have. For example, you may have access to health insurance through your military service, and also be eligible for Medicare. This page shares information about Military health insurance, Veterans Administration programs, and other helpful resources.
These materials explain health insurance options for members of the U.S. Military, and resources available to Veterans. Explore information in a brief, easy-to-digest, printable format. If you are looking for a more comprehensive overview for the most common issues that impact individuals and families after a cancer diagnosis, see our Practical Guide to Cancer Rights Series.
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Triage Cancer offers a wide variety of resources that may be useful to you.
Our Charts of State Laws includes a chart that explains Military Coverage of Cancer-Related Care.
We offer Cancer Finances: A Toolkit for Navigating Finances After Cancer. This interactive toolkit is designed to help guide you to the information most relevant to you. Whether you are newly diagnosed or many years past active treatment, this site can help. Cancer Finances covers a number of topics that may be helpful to you related to managing finances. However, there is information specific to the U.S. Military and the Veterans Administration in this module: Health Insurance Appeals.
We also host a Resources by Location page, where you can find state-specific information and resources.
Triage Cancer has a free Legal & Financial Navigation Program that provides one-on-one assistance on a variety of topics, including health insurance, to empower you to confidently take next steps.
As a Veteran, you may be eligible for a variety of benefits for you and your family related to health care, disability, education, housing, burials, and more. This section describes some of these benefits as well as other resources that may be useful to members of the cancer community. Download the free VA Welcome Kit to learn more.
TRICARE is the U.S. health care program for active duty service members (ADSMs), active duty family members (ADFMs), National Guard and Reserve members and their family members, retirees and retiree family members, survivors, and certain former spouses worldwide. Find out if you qualify here.
You may also qualify for benefits if you have been diagnosed with certain types of cancer due to exposure to certain substances while in the military. See below for information on Military Service & Cancer Risk.
You can find a local VA location or in-network community care provider here.
VA Community Care provides health care for Veterans from providers in local communities outside of the VA. Veterans may be eligible to receive care from a community provider when the VA cannot provide the care that is needed. This care is paid for by VA. Community Care is available to Veterans based on certain conditions and eligibility requirements. Community care must be first authorized by the VA before a Veteran can receive care from a community provider. Learn more about Community Care:
Understand your options for telehealth care. The VA recognizes the importance of access to telehealth services and has a Digital Divide Consult program to help Veterans get access to the internet and internet-connected devices to improve their access to telehealth services.
The VA App Store offers tools to help Veterans and their VA care team manage physical and mental wellness.
Vet Centers are community-based centers that offer counseling to help with a successful transition from military to civilian life or after a traumatic event experienced in the military. They provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional counseling to eligible Veterans, service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families.
See below for information on Long-Term Care.
The VA has a new rule on medical debt that may help you.
For more information about health insurance: TriageCancer.org/HealthInsurance.
In VA health care, you can appeal two kinds of decisions: medical determinations and health benefits decisions.
A medical determination is a decision made by your health care team about your health care. Those decisions can include whether to prescribe a certain medication, treatment, or physical therapy. It can also mean a decision to refer you to a community provider for your health care.
A health benefits decision is about whether or not you are eligible for VA health benefits, such as VA health care, VA nursing home or other long-term care program, and reimbursement for non-VA emergency care and certain medical devices.
For more information about health insurance appeals: TriageCancer.org/Cancer-Finances-Appeals.
If you are looking for your service records or those of a family member, learn more about how to access records from the National Archives or National Personnel Records Center.
If you have received care at a VA facility and would like to access your medical records, learn more here.
Individuals who use VA Health Care and use Apple iOS devices, may also be able to access their records on those devices.
TRICARE covers participation in National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III clinical trials.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also allows eligible Veterans to participate in clinical trials at VA Medical Centers.
For more information about clinical trials: TriageCancer.org/Cancer-Clinical-Trials.
VA Disability Compensation pays tax-free cash benefits to individuals who got sick or were injured while serving in the military and to Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse. You may qualify for VA disability benefits for physical conditions (like a chronic illness or injury) and mental health conditions (like PTSD) that developed before, during, or after service. You may also qualify for benefits if you have been diagnosed with certain types of cancer due to exposure to certain substances while in the military. See below for information on Military Service & Cancer Risk.
Veterans are eligible to receive these long-term care services at home and in the community as part of the VA Standard Benefits Package:
However, to get the service you must have a clinical need for it, and the service must be available in your location.
Individuals who have served in the U.S. Military may have been exposed to certain substances that increase their future risk of cancer. If you have served in the U.S. Military, talk with your doctor about your possible exposure and whether increased cancer screenings are important for you. You may also have legal rights to certain health care, disability compensation, and other benefits.
Learn more about potential exposures to hazardous chemicals and materials.
The VA also provides a number of programs and tools to help Veterans quit smoking. Learn more about these programs.
The PACT Act is a law that was recently passed to expand health care and other benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances while serving in the military. The full name of the law is The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.
Under the PACT Act, if a Veteran’s active military service meets certain requirements (location and time of service), then certain cancers and other illnesses are considered “presumptive conditions.” This means that Veterans do not need to prove that their military service actually caused the condition to get a VA disability rating. A VA disability rating (0-100%) determines what kinds of benefits you may receive as a Veteran:
Next PACT Act Deadline Sept. 30: Direct Health Care Enrollment
Veterans who deployed to a combat zone, never enrolled in VA health care, and left the military between September 11, 2001, and October 1, 2013, are eligible to enroll directly in VA health care through the PACT Act. This special enrollment period ends at 11:59 p.m. local time on Sept. 30, 2023. APPLY NOW!
Under the PACT Act, if you are a surviving family member of a Veteran, you may be eligible for these benefits:
To learn more about the different ways the PACT Act helps Veterans, read our blog: Are You a Veteran? How the PACT Act May Help You.
You can also listen to the Drive On Podcast from November 22, 2022, about the PACT Act and Veteran Legal Resources.
If you served at either of these locations between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, you may be eligible for disability and health care benefits, because of your exposure to contaminated water:
The Camp Lejeune Family Member Program (CLFMP) is for family members of Veterans who lived or served at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, and were potentially exposed to drinking water contaminated with industrial solvents, benzene, and other chemicals.
Section 804 of the PACT Act also addresses people who lived at Camp Lejeune. This law is also called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022.
This law allows Veterans, survivors, and families to file for appropriate relief for harm caused by exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
You (or your legal representative) can file an administrative claim with the Department of the Navy, if either of these is true:
The spouse or dependent child of a Veteran or service member may qualify for certain benefits, like health care, life insurance, or money to help pay for school or training.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers Caregiver Support Programs.
The CSP offers Primary Family Caregivers enrolled in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) access to legal and financial planning services.
The U.S. Department of Defense offers a Caregiver Resource Directory (CRD).
The National Alliance of Caregiving also provides information on access to no-cost respite care for military or Veteran caregivers.
For more information about caregiving: TriageCancer.org/Caregiving.
The VA offers a variety of programs to support Veterans in their career, including vocational rehabilitation programs, career counseling, and support for Veteran-owned small businesses.
LinkedIn offers Veterans, VA caregivers, and Fry Scholars a free 1-year premium career subscription, including one year of access to LinkedIn Learning, with a library of more than 16,000 business, technical, and creative courses.
There are also a number of federal employment laws that protect members of the military and Veterans in the workplace.
The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) includes Military Caregiver Leave, which allows a spouse, parent, child, or next of kin to care for a qualifying Veteran, and receive up to 26 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave from work, in a 12-month period.
The FMLA may also provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave when urgent demands arise out of the foreign deployment of the employee’s spouse, child, or parent. This urgent need is called a “qualifying exigency.”
Veterans with disabilities are protected from discrimination in the workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). USERRA requires employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate Veterans with disabilities and provides up to 2 years for Veterans to return to their jobs. USERRA also requires employers to reemploy qualified returning service members in the same jobs, with the same seniority, status, and pay.
For more information about employment rights: TriageCancer.org/Employment.
Other employment-related resources:
The VA provides housing assistance through a variety of loans and programs to help Veterans with disabilities, Veterans facing homelessness, and aging Veterans:
For more information about housing rights: TriageCancer.org/Cancer-Finances-Housing.
The VA offers a number of life insurance options for members of the military, Veterans, and family members. For some programs, you may be able to qualify even if you already have a medical condition that would normally make you ineligible for life insurance.
For more information about life insurance: TriageCancer.org/cancer-finances-life-insurance.
The Veterans Pension program provides monthly cash payments to Veterans who served during wartime, meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have certain income and asset levels. Find out if you’re eligible for this benefit.
The VA Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits provide monthly payments in addition to the pension amount for qualified Veterans and survivors. If you need help with daily activities, or you’re housebound, find out if you qualify.
The VA also offers VA Survivors Pension cash benefits to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans who meet certain income and asset limits. Find out if you qualify and how to apply.
The VA’s Veterans Transportation Program (VTP) offers Veterans these programs for free or no cost, to help with getting to and from their VA health care facilities:
The VA also has a pilot VHA-Uber Health Connect Initiative to help Veterans get to their medical appointments.
The VA partners with other organizations to provide resources to Veterans and their families. To learn about these benefits, sign up for the monthly newsletter. Benefits have included discounts on Amazon Prime membership and Amtrak, free yoga, help to quit smoking, free flu shots, service dogs, free toolboxes, and much more.
There are many other organizations that provide financial assistance and other support programs for military members, Veterans, and families. Here are a few examples:
For more financial assistance resources: TriageCancer.org/Cancer-Finances-Financial-Assistance.