Veterans should be aware of their health care benefits

Friday, June 1, 2018 7:48 PM

The Durango VA Contracted Community Based Outpatient Clinic has a highly knowledgeable staff available to serve all primary health care needs and has the capacity for more veterans to receive free or low cost primary health care.

The VA provides a comprehensive medical benefits package of health services that is available to all enrolled veterans. The benefits include preventive-care services, hospital services, prescription drugs, home health care services, long-term care benefits and nursing home benefits.

While many veterans qualify for enrollment and cost-free VA health care services based on a compensable service connected condition or other qualifying factors, certain veterans will be asked to complete a financial assessment at the time of enrollment to determine their eligibility for cost-free medical care and medications. The assessment is based on the veteran’s gross household income from the previous calendar year.

If you are one of the many veterans reaching retirement age and you are now on Medicare, or a veteran without health insurance, or if you are just out of the service and are having a difficult time finding a primary care provider, then VA health care may be an option for you. VA health care is available to all veterans discharged under honorable conditions. There is no time limit to apply and combat service is not a requirement. If you served honorably in the Armed Forces, no matter when and where, you can apply for VA health care benefits.

With VAHC being considered creditable coverage under the Affordable Care Act, now is a good time to apply for enrollment in this program. Enrollment in the VA health care system provides veterans with a safety net against being fined or penalized under the Affordable Care Act for not having any form of health care insurance. This is a great thing for veterans who cannot afford to purchase health care coverage.

Veterans currently enrolled in the VA health care system must be seen at least once every 12 months to maintain enrollment. If you are not seen by the VA once a year, you will be required to re-enroll in the VA health care system before the VA will provide any health care services. This is important to remember because for those who cannot afford to purchase additional health insurance, loss of your VAHC benefits means the loss of your health care safety net.

Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or

For more information

The La Plata County Veterans Service Office provides information and assis­tance to veterans and their families. For more information, visit the county website at and type “veterans services” in the search window. The Veterans Service Office and the Durango VA Clinic are located at 1970 East Third Ave. The office phone number is 759-0117. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except holidays. Appointments are encouraged. To schedule an appoint­ment, call 382-6150. For clinic appointments, call 247-2214.
Help for vetsThe Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans, family and friends. Call (800) 273-8255 and press 1. You also can text professional responders at 838255 or chat online at
Health care van serviceDisabled American Veterans is running a VA health-care van from Durango to Albuquerque on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and from Farmington to Albuquerque on Mondays and Wednesdays. If you want to use the DAV transportation network, contact DAV coordinators at:
Durango area – 442-0149Cortez area – (970) 676-1116Farmington/Aztec – (505) 793-1782