Generally speaking, eligibility for VA benefits is based primarily on “veteran status” which is determined by active military, naval, or air service and a discharge or release from active service under condition other than dishonorable. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. Read further to learn more — or contact our veterans disability attorneys for assistance determining whether you may qualify for VA services or benefits as a Reservist or National Guard member.
VA Health Care for Reservists and National Guard Members
Activated for Federal Duty
Reservists and National Guard members activated for federal duty can qualify for various health care services provided by the VA including:
- Hospital, outpatient medical, dental, pharmacy and prosthetic services
- Domiciliary, nursing home, and community-based residential care
- Sexual trauma counseling
- Specialized health care for female veterans
- Health and rehabilitation problems for homeless veterans
- Readjustment counseling
- Alcohol and drug dependency counseling
- Medical evaluation for military services exposure including Gulf War, Agent Orange, Ionizing Radiation among others
Reservists and National Guard members who have served on active duty in a theater of combat may be eligible for VA health care 2 years after leaving the military. Health care may not be provided if the disability did not result from the service period at issue such are injuries or conditions existing before service or occurring after service.
Reservists and National Guard members may also be eligible for VA health care for service-related disabilities. Additionally, they may also be eligible for VA health care for non-service connected disabilities if the service-related disability/disabilities is/are rated high enough.
Disability, Pension and Survivors’ Benefits
The VA will pay monthly benefits to Reservists and National Guard members veterans for disabilities from disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active duty and active duty for training, and for disabilities from injury incurred or aggravated during inactive duty for training (Battle Assembly). However, the VA will not pay disability benefits for diseases and related conditions incurred or aggravated during inactive duty for training (Battle Assemblies) except for heart attacks and strokes.
Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled (or 65 years old or older) and who have served during a war-time period may be entitled to pension benefits. This benefit is based upon financial need and is limited based upon the veterans other household income.
VA Life Insurance
Reserve and National Guard members are eligible to receive Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI), and Family Group Life Insurance (FGLI). The may also be eligible for Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (RH) if called to active duty, injured, and have a service-connected disability.
Dependents and Survivors’ Benefits
The VA offers a wide range of benefits and services for surviving spouses, children and dependent parents of deceased Reserve and National Guard Members. Two of the most popular because of they involve payment of money to the survivor(s) include:
Disability and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Disability and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is payable to survivors of:
- Servicemembers who died on active duty
- Veterans who died from service-related disabilities
- Certain veterans who were being paid 100% VA disability compensation at the time of death
Death pension is payable to some surviving spouses and children of deceased wartime veterans. This benefit is based upon financial need.
Burial Benefits for veterans may include gravesite in any of 120 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a grave liner for casketed remains, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. These services are provided at no cost to the family
Additionally, The VA will pay a burial allowance of $2,000 for veterans who died of service-related causes. If the veteran’s death is not due to a service-related cause, the VA will pay $300 for burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot allowance.
A U.S. flag for burial purposes is issued for Reserve and National Guard members who complete at least one enlistment in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, or who were discharged due to service-connected disability or whose death was the result of service. A flag can also be issued for individuals who at the time of death were eligible for retirement pay based on Selected Reserve or National Guard Service, or would have been entitled had the member attained age 60.
Education, Employment and Other Benefits
Selected Reserve and National Guard members may be entitled to education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606) and/or the Reserve Education Assistance Program (REAP/Chapter 1607).
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
Service-disabled veterans may qualify for rehabilitation and employment assistance including: job search, vocational evaluation, career exploration, and vocational training, education and rehabilitation services. If enrolled in an education or training program, VA will pay for the participant’s tuition, fees, books, tools, and other program expenses as well as provide a monthly living allowance.
Home Loan Guaranty
The VA guarantees loans to purchase a home, manufactured home and certain condominiums; or to build, repair, and improve homes. This benefit may be used to refinance an existing home loan. Severely disabled veterans my also receive grants to have their home specially adapted for their needs. Reserve and National Guard members must have completed six years of honorable service. However, this time may be less if the discharge was due to service-connected disabilities. Also, Reservists and National Guard members are eligible if they were activated after August 1, 1990, served at least 90 days, and received an honorable discharge. Eligibility based on current activation begins after 90 days of active service.
For an evaluation of the benefits you or your family may be entitled to, call the nationwide veterans attorneys of Bosley & Bratch at (800) 953-6224 or fill out our free evaluation form.