Under the PACT Act, there is a special opportunity for post-9/11 veterans to enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits. Those eligible are veterans who were discharged or released between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013 and who hasn’t enrolled in VA health care before. Also to be eligible, the veteran must meet one of the following:
- served on active duty in theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War; or
- served in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after Nov. 11, 1998.
Deadline to enrollment for this benefit under the PACT Act is Sept. 30. The quickest way to enroll in VA health care is at this link. Veterans also can enroll by calling 877-222-8387 or by visiting their local VA medical facility or clinic.
“The PACT Act is one of the largest pieces of legislation that VA has had in the last 30 years, and it comes with a ton of opportunity to get veterans the benefits and the health care they deserve,” said Lisa Pape, senior advisor for the Deputy UnderSecretary of Health. While veterans may not see a need to enroll now before the deadline since they are not sick, Pape said, “even if they don’t need us today or are not interested in getting their health care services today from the VA, better to have them on the rolls while this enrollment period is open then to try and fit in for some different reason down the road.”
To get the word out about the approaching deadline, the VA has sent 274,000 emails and 425,828 letters to unenrolled post-9/11 combat veterans. And a text message campaign is also underway.
“That Sept. 30 date is going to come fast, and we really want our veterans to have an opportunity to be on the rolls,” Pape said.
Additional resources regarding PACT Act eligibility and benefits:
The American Legion has accredited service officers to help you, free of charge, understand your benefits or file a claim. Find one near you by searching here.