Accessing VA Benefits After Completing Military Service

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To the Native Hawaiian military veteran community: THANK YOU for your service. And to the family members of those who have served: THANK YOU for your sacrifices.

Although your military service is over, you still have access to a wide number of benefits offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). There are a wide range of benefits, including health care, home financing, education, burial honors and much more.

The VA has identified “veteran benefit awareness” as a common issue that prevents many qualifying veterans from receiving benefits. You, or someone you know, could be one of these veterans.

Why is this the case?

Commonly, when a veteran discharges from the military they go their own way and do not think about retaining an association to their service and/or fellow service members. This isolation creates a barrier to spreading benefit awareness.

Other issues may stem from undocumented service-connected injuries, claim denials, and a general lack of awareness, not to mention the scenarios wherein frustration is experienced when attempting to navigate complicated VA systems. For those who have endured this process, it is acknowledged that an investment of time and attention will be required to complete the VA administrative paperwork and associated processes.

What do I need?

To start, the veteran will need a copy of their DD-214 as proof of service. If the vet does not have a copy, one can be requested at www.archives.gov/veterans. Depending on the claim or benefit requested, additional paperwork may be required, such as medical records or other documentation. It is best to check with a professional counselor for guidance through this process.

Where can I go? Where can I take my vet?

The first place any veteran can go is to the VA itself. If the veteran chooses, they can utilize any other Veteran Service Organizations (VSO), such as the State of Hawaiʻi’s Office of Veterans Services, U.S. Vets, Vet Center, DAV, Wounded Warrior Project, and several others.

Currently, the Native Hawaiian community does not have its own VSO or similar entity. Other native tribe entities have allotted resources for VSO counselors who are successfully assisting their veteran community. With an overwhelming request of the community, to the different Native Hawaiian organizations, this type of service could one day become available to our Native Hawaiian veterans.