Get VSO Help
Firstly, military retirees should seek the help of a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) to determine what their federal and state veterans’ benefits are and how to file for those benefits. There is a county VSO in every S.C. County. Go to the SC Department of Veterans’ Affairs website at https://bit.ly/3HNQLwt to find the contact information for each County Veterans Service Office.
Retirees (and all veterans) can also go to the VA’s eBenefits gateway at VSO Search-VA/DoD eBenefits (Get help filing your claim or appeal) to find a VA recognized local representative, which includes VSOs, attorneys, or claims agents.
This site will allow you to search by state/territory, zip code, or the organization’s name. Just open https://bit.ly/35ZKNur in your browser and click on Go To eBenefits, or just go direct to https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/vso-search.
Examples of organizations found at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/vso-search, with recognized VSOs (or Claims Agents or Attorneys), within 50 miles of Beaufort SC include the Beaufort County Veterans Affairs Office at 843-255-9445, American Legion at 843-255-6880 and 803-647-2434, and DAV Chapter 12 at 843-301-2543.
Retirees may want to review The Island News article of Nov. 24, 2020, entitled “Who can help me file a claim for State and Federal Veterans’ Benefits?” Past editions of The Island News newspaper and more than 40 articles on veterans’ benefits can be found at www.yourislandnews.com.
Read about Veterans’ Benefits
Secondly, retirees and all veterans should read the almost limitless and helpful information at www.va.gov, download and read the information in the free, 42 pages long VA Welcome Kit, which is titled HELLO. Welcome to VA. Let’s get started, at https://www.va.gov/welcome-kit/?utm_message=2.
Retirees and all veterans should also download and read the 2021 version of the 130 pages long and free, VA pamphlet titled “Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, and Survivors,” found at https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp.
Do not miss out on your hard-earned veterans’ benefits
Military retirees (and all veterans, family members, caregivers, and survivors) should recognize that eligible veterans are entitled to a wide range of generous and valuable (very valuable) benefits in the categories of eBenefits, health care, non-healthcare, education and training, special groups, burial and memorial benefits, and others. The VA can help military retirees clarify their retirement goals, apply for benefits, provide detailed information online, answer questions via phone, and tell you where to go in person to get help with benefits.
There are far too many benefits to cover in one article but here are a few of the ways the VA can help military retirees.
Apply for a Disability Rating
Retirees (and all eligible veterans) can and should apply for all military service-connected disability compensation ($$$$) that they are entitled to. Retirees should go to and read the information at https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/ to file a VA disability claim. Retirees can call the VA at 800-827-1000 to get answers to questions they may have concerning disability claims. Retirees can also find their local Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) Regional Center and other support facilities at https://www.va.gov/find-locations. Retirees may also want to read The Island News article dated Dec. 16, 2020, which is titled “Are you eligible for VA Disability Benefits?”
Apply for VA Health Care
Retirees (and all eligible veterans) can and should apply for VA inpatient and outpatient health services at VA Medical Centers and Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs). Retirees should go online and read the information at https://www.va.gov/healthcare. Retirees can call the VA at 877-222-18387 to get answers to questions they may have about VA health care. Retirees can also visit their local VA Medical Center or Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) to determine their eligibility and apply for VA Health Care.
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center (RHJVAMC) Eligibility Office is located on the first floor, room B189, 109 Bee Street, Charleston, S.C. 29401. The RHJVAMC’s Eligibility Office phone number is 843-789-7008. The RHJVAMC’s Beaufort Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) is located at 1 Pinckney Boulevard, Beaufort, S.C. 29902-6122, phone number 843-770-0444. The Savannah, Ga., RHJVAMC CBOC is located at 1170 Shawnee Street, Savannah, Ga. 31419-1618, phone number 912-920-0214. Retirees can find the addresses and contact information for all RHJVAMC CBOCs at https://bit.ly/3rAOoaq.
Apply for VA Hearing Services
Tinnitus and hearing impairment are the No. 1 and No. 2 service-connected disabilities. As of 2020, more than 1.3 million veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss and more than 2.3 million veterans received disability compensation for tinnitus.
Eligible military retirees (and all eligible veterans) should apply for VA audiology services. The VA provides eligible veterans (including retirees) with hearing services including hearing aids and devices, care for hearing aids and other hearing assistance devices, batteries for hearing aids, and more.
Retirees should go online and read the VA hearing services information at https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/Hearing_Aids.asp. Veterans can call the VA health Care Line at 877-222-8387 and press 0 to get answers to questions about VA hearing services and health care.
Retirees may also want to read The Island News articles, dated Sept. 14 and Sept. 22, 2021, which covered VA Audiology Services and the RHJVAMC’s Audiology Department. Retirees and other veterans can read 40 past ISLAND NEWS articles on veterans’ benefits at www.yourislandnews.com.
Use the VA for vision needs
The VA’s rehabilitation services for blind and low-vision veterans are second to none. Eligible retirees and veterans (and their family members and caregivers) should review the detailed information at https://www.va.gov//optometry and https://www.prosthetics.gov/features/Blinded-Veterans.asp. Retirees/Veterans can call the VA health Care Line at 877-222-8387 and press O to get answers to questions about VA vision and other services and health care. Retirees can also visit their local VA Medical Center or Blind Rehabilitation Center to get help.
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System (RHJVAHCS)
If you are a retiree (or veteran) living in the footprint of the RHJVAHCS service area (includes S.C. coastal areas from I-95 east and from N.C. to GA, and the Northeast GA Coastal areas including Savannah and Hinesville, GA.), you should read the information at https://bit.ly/3rwtQ2I. That informative site describes:
- VA health care services; the Veterans’ Crisis Line, the 10 locations in the RHJVAHCS, vaccinations, and jobs and careers with the VA.
- How to volunteer and donate, internships and fellowships, how to do business with Charleston VA health care, and the Fisher House Charleston.
- The Daisy Award Program, the Medical Foster Home Program, current related VA events, news, and stories, and leadership messages.
- Special Veterans programs and services like homeless veterans, women veterans, minority veterans, LGBTQ veterans, mental health, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and more.
- VA forms, VA health care providers, accredited claims representatives, VA mobile apps, VSOs, VA outreach materials, and your VA Welcome Kit.
- The VA Vantage Point Blog, news releases, email updates, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, language assistance, and more.
- How to make, cancel, or reschedule primary care, mental health, or specialty care appointments at a Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System facility.
You may also want to read The Island News’ Dec. 9, 2020 edition’s article titled “Why use the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center?” You can find that article at https://bit.ly/3jSREtk.
The Bottom Line
Do not forget there are three VA Administrations in the US Department of Veterans Affairs. They are the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) providing healthcare benefits, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) providing non-health benefits, and the National Cemetery Administration. This article is primarily focused on the VHA’s Veterans’ healthcare benefits and VBA disability compensation benefits.
Military retirees and other veterans earned their robust benefits through blood, sweat, tears, separation, wounds, injuries, illnesses, hazardous material contamination, and other hardships. Veterans’ benefits are paid for and safeguarded by U.S. law, so do not hesitate to apply for your benefits.
Applying for veterans’ benefits can be complicated, so use a VSO to help you determine what your benefits (health, non-health, and death) are and apply for them.