In an analysis of the VA’s 2010 National Survey of Veterans which examines the state of America’s veterans every ten years, McClatchy Newspapers has found that 59 percent of all veterans have “little” or a “not at all” understanding of benefits that are available to them. Breaking down the results even further, 55 percent of older veterans from WWII and the Vietnam and Korean wars have little or no understanding, and for those who were in the latter two wars, the number rises to 65 percent; 40 percent for younger veterans.
When asked specifically about their understanding of life insurance benefits, 80 percent of veterans have little or no understanding with an overwhelming majority belonging to the second category. When the veterans surveyed were asked about education benefits, the younger vets, who are more likely to utilize those privileges, were more aware of them than their older counterparts, yet 40 percent still had little or no understanding. Though the article does not mention veterans’ understanding of their VA disability benefits, it is not far off to assume that that is also minimal for many past and current servicemen. In fact, some disabled veterans who were in combat half a century ago are just finding out that disability benefits even exist and have recently started the claim process. For many, the applications, requirements, reviews, appeals, etc. are difficult to navigate so they may turn to a disability attorney for assistance.
Last week, a new law was enacted that requires all departing service members to participate in detailed benefits trainings which were, prior to this law, usually optional. Under this law, the VA estimates that they will reach 307,000 service members per year rather than the 150,000/year. Furthermore, in 2011, many veterans reported to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that the VA’s education programs were too complex to digest at once and, thus, were not effective. The GAO made its recommendations for improving the programs and providing more support to veterans, and the VA said last week, that they would implement those measures.