- DVA Housing and Home Modifications
- Coverage of AAC Devices for Military Members and Dependents
- Coverage of Hearing Aids
- Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange
Department of Veterans Affairs: (302) 994-2511
The DVA provides income supplements and medical benefits to former military personnel and their families. There are three general classes of eligibility, which depend on the applicant's income level. Through its Prosthetics and Sensory Aids programs, the DVA purchases AT devices for those who have disabilities as a result of "service-related" illness or injury. A disorder is considered service-related if it occurred "in the line of duty." The DVA will also purchase hearing aids or glasses for veterans, even if the need is not "service-related," as long as the veteran's primary physician certifies that it is "medically necessary." The Prosthetics Services Division of the DVA is located on the ground floor of the VA hospital in Wilmington.
The DVA's Home Improvement and Structural Alteration (HISA) grants also provide funds to disabled veterans for home modifications. The maximum lifetime benefit is $4,100 for service-connected conditions and $1,200 for non-service connected conditions. Those interested in assistance should contact Sam Kalb at (302) 633-5343 in the Prosthetics Department at the VA hospital.
DVA also has a Specially Adapted Housing Grant that will pay up to $48,000 toward the cost of a wheelchair-accessible home. This grant is limited to veterans with certain service-connected permanent and total disabilities. Another program, Special Housing Adaptations for Disabled Veterans, provides up too $9,250 for home modifications for those with certain service-connected permanent and total disabilities. For more information on these programs, visit www.homeloans.va.gov/sah.htm.
The military reauthorization bill passed by Congress at the end of 2001 extends coverage under Tricare (formerly CHAMPUS), the health insurance program for dependents of both active duty service members and retirees, to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. Previously, "communication devices" were expressly excluded from the applicable definition of "durable medical equipment." This development marks the first time that Congress has explicitly referred to coverage of AAC by name. Other provisions of this law contain new, expansive definitions of DME as well as rehabilitative therapies.
Tricare now covers hearing aids under its prosthetics benefit. Coverage is restricted to "dependent(s) of a member of the uniformed services on active duty and only if the dependent has a profound hearing loss" as determined by standards set by the Department of Defense.
The VA provides special health care and compensation benefits to all veterans who served in Vietnam between 1962-1975. Federal law contains a "presumptive policy" which presumes that certain illnesses (e.g., chloracne, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, porphyria cutanea tarda, respiratory cancers, soft-tissue sarcoma, acute and subacute peripheral neuropathy, and prostate cancer) suffered by these veterans are due to Agent Orange exposure. Diabetes mellitus will be added to this list. Consequently, the "presumptive policy" eliminates the normal requirement of proving that an illness began or was worsened during military service.
In addition, the VA provides monetary benefits, health care, and vocational rehabilitation to Vietnam veterans' children who were born with spina bifida. Finally, Vietnam veterans are eligible for a complete physical examination and, if a VA doctor suspects that a veteran's disease might be related to Agent Orange, the VA will provide free medical care.