Health & Safety

Topics covered include health insurance, medical care & leave, and filing claims based on MST , PTSD , or TBI. 

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TRICARE - Health Care for Service Members and Others

Learn about TRICARE, who is eligible, the options available, and how much it could cost.

VA medical and pharmacy copayments cancelled through Sept. 30, 2021

Read here about the American Rescue Plan's debt relief and cancellation and refund of copayments made to VHA for medical and pharmacy care from April 6, 2020 through September 30, 2021.

BREAKING: The SAVE LIVES Act is signed into law!

The SAVE LIVES Act allows the VA to vaccinate ALL veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and CHAMPVA recipients against COVID-19.  
VA pension

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) for Surviving Spouses and Children

Learn about this tax-free monthly benefit paid by the VA to certain eligible survivors of military servicemembers and veterans.
A photo of a golden retriever service dog wearing a vest with several service dog patches. The most prominent reads 'Disabled Veteran with Service Dog.'

"Service Animals" and "Assistance Animals:" What Are My Rights?

Learn about the federal laws that support people in need of a service animal.
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VA Caregiver Support

VA has changed its rules to provide additional support to eligible post-9/11 Veterans who want to be cared for at home from a primary family caregiver.

Under the new rules, eligible caregivers can receive a financial stipend, training, mental health services, and access to health insurance if they are not already under a health care plan.

A young black girl in a hospital bed sticks out her tongue at a middle aged white man in scrubs and a surgical cap who is crouched next to the bed.

Your Rights Under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (video)

View this video to learn the basics about how the federal law provides extra leave for some workers, including time to care for injured servicemembers.

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The Homeless Veteran's Resource Guide

Many organizations provide support to homeless veterans.  These services include housing, food programs, educational opportunities, counselling and legal help. Open the attached document to find a comprehensive listing of resources and links. 

Red text in a red box on a white background reads 'DENIED.'

Was your MST-Related VA Benefit Claim Denied? Learn about Special Review Process

How to get your previously denied VA Compensation claim reviewed.

Substance Abuse Testing

Question:

My new doctor had an issue with my positive test for THC UDS. I retested negative but he didn't sign off on refill of back pain medication until my next appointment. I went 2+ days without the pain medication I have been on since 2004 for back issues, How do I find out the procedure used around pain medication and testing positive then retesting negative for THC? Is it to immediately stop without consultation? This happened while going through 10+ pain due to a new back injury. I appreciate your help to us vets.

 

Jim's Reply:

Marijuana is still illegal. That isn't a VA policy, it's a federal law. The procedure for terminating your narcotic medication is pretty much the same as that used for testing employees although your risk is losing access to your narcotic meds. 
 

VA publishes a lot about policy and procedure and then doesn't usually follow most of it. You should be given informed consent to test for marijuana but nobody ever is.
 

To answer your question, in practice all narcotic medications are usually stopped immediately upon testing positive for substance abuse. The usual VA primary care provider isn't going to have the time to notify you or debate whether or not you should have your prescription. Most VA doctors, in my experience, won't bother with testing you a 2nd time, they just refuse to refill pain med prescriptions.
 

This draconian approach to marijuana use isn't only at your VA, the DEA has most civilian providers following similar protocols and of course there are nationwide drug tracking programs so if you shop around for a provider, you'll be noticed.
 

In the end the DEA has made it so that you will either give up smoking pot or give up your narcotic prescriptions. Good luck.