Bob Muenchausen, County Veterans Service Officer
The Grant County Veteran Services Office is a joint commitment of Grant County and the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs to all veterans living in Grant County.
We serve as authorized/certified agents/representation to the VA for our veteran population as required by law, even though we are NOT the US Dept of Veteran Affairs itself.
This office facilitates assistance and access to a range of benefits and services offered to veterans and their family members by the US Department of Veterans Affairs AND the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs including:
- VA Health Care Benefits
- VA Compensation
- VA Pension possibilities
- VA and State Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment programs
- VA Education and Training Programs
- VA and ODVA Home Loans
- VA Burial and Memorial Benefits
- State of Oregon Disabled Veterans benefits
- State of Oregon Veteran's Home in The Dalles
To get to know more about these programs and benefits, you may view the 2014 ODVA Veteran Benefits magazine online at the link below:
And, if your wish to view the VA's Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, and Survivors book, you may do so or download a PDF copy to store on your computer free at this link:
Call 541-575-1631 to make your appointment to visit with our County Veteran Services Officer
Walk-ins will be accepted as scheduling permits.
Limited available office time means that an appointment is your best assurance of having time just for your needs.
The Office is open T-W-Th from 10AM to 4PM
"When the flag flies outside our door, we are in. When it is gone, so are we!"
If you have never set foot inside a Veteran Services Office or the VA before, and now you find that you have a reason to file a claim or enroll in a program such as VA Medical Care or Education Benefits, you will need to have certain documents available in order to file that claim and to verify your eligibility for many benefits and programs.
1. A copy of your DD-214 separation from service form, either the original you were issued at separation or a certified copy. This is the key that unlocks your benefits. Without it, you are likely to be shut out from VA benefits.
If you have neither, they can normally be gotten via the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO. You may get them online via the NPRC records online request site at this site --
If you use the online site, you MUST use the current Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser to access full functionality of the site. It was purposely set up to work with only that browser!
2. Other things you may need to have available when you eventually get to filing a claim or for some enrollments are:
Death Certificate (when dealing with survivor benefits to widows and dependents)
Occasionally, Medical records from private physicians or Military Medical records (which can be requested
at the same time as DD-214s from the NPRC.
And, perhaps other documents as required by the VA on request.
We will help you to get your military records if necessary, and to get other forms of evidence and documentation that supporting a claim may require.
Veterans can also access online what is perhaps the most complete VA claims and information site and become enrolled in the VA's online eBenefits program by going to their Secure and Encrypted Online Portal
The eBenefits program provides the most convenient way for those who have a need to handle their own affairs due to distance from your county office, or any other factor where convenience, privacy, security are issues that matter. The direct access to your Dept. of Defense (branch of service), VA, and National Personnel records all in one place that eBenefits provides is something even your county veteran's office cannot offer.
All VA matters on eBenefits are handled in a secure, encrypted environment to assure that your privacy and security are always and in all ways respected. Check into this program today!! It may be one of the best moves you'll make as a veteran!
Comments on the eBenefits program and explanations of the program can also be found on THIS BLOG
However, if you'd rather just come in and discuss your needs and questions in person, please give us a call and we will make an appointment for you. 541-575-1631
All veterans are entitled to apply for VA Medical care. There are eligibility requirements which must be met, and veterans are assigned to Priority groups based on certain criteria of Service Connection and financial need. A completed application, VA Form 10-10EZ, and a copy of the veteran's DD-214, are required for determination of eligibility. Submission of these items can be accomplished through this office, or by simply taking them in person to the Burns, Oregon VA Clinic
Once accepted into the system, Veterans in Grant County generally go to the VA Clinic in Burns, OR or to the Boise VA Medical Center (VAMC, hospital) which serve this region of the VA Healthcare system. Other clinics and VAMCs can also be used by veterans from Grant County, such as the clinics in Bend and LaGrande. Many times, veterans going to any of these can occasionally be sent to another region's Medical Center, for very specific types of care not provided at their usual facility.
***NOTICE!! VA Medical Care and the Affordable Care Act.***
We have had many questions about the ACA and how it would affect Veterans already in the VA system or those thinking of joining the VA system. Here are answers to the two most often asked questions:
1) Will "Obamacare" affect my current enrollment in VA Medical Care? NO, absolutely NOT!! If anything, VA care meets ALL the requirements of the ACA and will have NO effect on access to VA medical Care and NO requirement to be enrolled in any other ACA approved program.
2) "If I want to enroll in VA Medical Care, will it meet the requirements of the ACA?" YES!! As stated in 1) above, it meets all requirements of the ACA.
So, Please! If you are considering VA Medical Care, do go right ahead and apply.
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The Straight Scoop on the VA "Choice Card" for Local Healthcare
"How 'Choice Card' and $15B will help veterans get care
By Tom Philpott
Special to Stars and Stripes
Published: July 31, 2014
"Veterans reading only headlines, hearing only sound bites, might have a few misconceptions about how Congress and the VA plan to use non-VA healthcare providers to ensure more timely and convenient access to care.
"A magical sounding item called a “Veteran’s Choice Card,” for example, won’t be a limitless credit card given qualified veterans to cover whatever health services they receive from whatever physician they use.
"And veterans not already enrolled in VA health care won’t gain accelerated access to outside care as promised by the legislation – unless they serve in areas of combat operations within five years of enrollment.
"The centerpiece of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of (HR 3230) is a special $10 billion Veterans Choice Fund. Over the next three years, VA is to use the fund as needed to buy care from non-VA care providers for veterans if they face long waits for VA care – defined initially as more than 30 days – or if they reside more than 40 miles from VA care.
The intent is to eliminate VA patient wait lists that some VA health administrators and staff conspired to hide in recent years, thus compromising the integrity of performance reports and putting patients’ health at risk.
"VA leaders and veteran service organizations prefer to attack wait times through improved resourcing. They want VA spending raised to meet actual patient demand from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the expansion of diseases presumed caused by defoliants used in Vietnam, and from higher costs of caring for aging veterans.
"So HR 3230 also authorizes VA to spend $5 billion more to expand its own capacity to deliver care, by hiring more medical and support staff and also building and leasing more space.
"House-Senate conferees, in shaping the final bill, categorized the Choice Fund as emergency money so the $10 billion gets added to the nation’s debt but not to VA budgets. The $5 billion for more VA-delivered care is to be paid through cuts elsewhere in VA, including executive bonuses and by deferring planned rate cuts for some types of VA home loans.
"The legislation mandates use of a new Veteran’s Choice Card but it isn’t a golden key to private sector care. It will be more like an informational insurance card to be presented to non-VA health care providers to identify the veteran and to verify eligibility for episodes of care that, sometime earlier, were arranged through and approved by a VA care coordinator.
"The administrative challenges ahead for VA in coordinating a vast expansion of private sector care, monitoring outside care quality and integrating those medical records back into VA health care will be profound. But the bill is said to set aside only $300 million for these added tasks.
Indeed, in reviewing the new law’s requirements, VA officials are weighing whether current Veteran Identification Cards (VICs), which are issued when veterans enroll in VA health care, might be modified to serve as the “choice card” that the new law mandates.
"Other details in the reform package will disappoint reformers who seek to fully “privatize” VA care. The bill is a series of compromises between near-term action to address the patient wait-time scandal and steps to shore up the integrated VA health care system so prized by many veterans and their service organizations. Here’s more on how non-VA care will grow:
"ELIGIBILITY – The hurdles to gain easy access to non-VA care go beyond how far veterans reside from a VA clinic or how long their wait for care. To be eligible, veterans must have enrolled in VA health care by Aug. 1, 2014 or, if they enroll later, they must have served on active duty in a theater of combat operations within five years of enrolling.
"These restrictions address cost concerns fiscal conservatives had after the Congressional Budget Office projected that up to two million more veterans would drop current health insurance and enroll with VA if given the chance to use current doctors and have VA foot the bill.
NO FIRM 30-DAY GOAL – Architects of HR 3230, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), would like non-VA care offered to any vet who can’t get a VA appointment within 30 days. But their legislation allows VA to set a different wait-time goal if they can defend it. What VA finally decides will be part of interim rules for implementing the law, to be published within 90 days of President Obama signing the bill into law.
"The bill would require that if VA can’t offer a timely appointment then it must inform the veteran electronically or, if the veteran chooses, by mail, and explain that outside care is authorized. Last year, VA spent $4.8 billion on non-VA health care but half of that involved emergency services.
40 MILES AS CROW FLIES – Veterans who reside more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility or who must travel by air, boat or ferry to access VA care are to be offered non-VA care instead. VA is to use “geodesic distance” or the shortest route between two points on Earth, or, if you like, “as the crow flies.” VA’s early estimate is that 500,000 vets will qualify.
"However, House-Senate conferees in their explanatory report on HR 3230, say they do not intend the 40-mile criteria “to preclude veterans who reside closer” to a VA facility “from accessing care through non-VA providers, particularly if the VA facility…provides limited services.”
"So VA will have to clarify in regulation what 40 miles really means.
"CHOICE OF PROVIDER – Not all veterans who become eligible for non-VA care will get to choose their outside provider, and not every non-VA care provider will opt to treat veterans through the VA coordinated care program, even if the vets are existing patients. One issue for physicians will be the level of reimbursement and another the timeliness of VA payments.
"VA has existing contracts with individual physicians and with pools of private sector providers. Many more such arrangements are expected. But VA cannot pay rates higher than Medicare allows, with exceptions possible if care is delivered in very rural areas.
"Timeliness of VA payments to non-VA care providers has been a significant concern for years. The reform bill has language urging VA officials to improve their payment procedures."
Grant County is lucky to have a volunteer service affiliated with the VA and the DAV (Disabled Vets of America) which provides transportation services to our veterans to and from these facilities. Staffed by local volunteers, this is a great convenience for veterans of all wars, and provides the needed transportation to these two vital VA Medical centers.
The DAV Van can boarded at the Elks Lodge parking lot in John Day behind the True Value Hardware on Main Street. You can find out their schedule of pick ups and returns and more information by contacting:
Bob Van Voorhis at 206-399-7391 to make arrangements.
Transportation of our veterans is an important service, and this group of volunteers and others are working on making transportation ever more available to all Grant County Veterans in the future.
New VA Medical Care ID Cards to be issued!!
Please go to this site to read more about what this will mean for Vets enrolled in VA Healthcare!http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic/
New!! VA announces the new Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program!!
For more information, please go to http://deltadentalvadip.org/
It is the first national dental program authorized by the US Government for eligible Veterans Affairs beneficiaries! You have the freedom to choose which plan best meets your needs: Standard, Enhanced, or Comprehensive.
You can sign up online at the internet address provided above, or stop by your Grant County Veteran Services office for more info and forms. Once signed up, your local provider is Advantage Dental in John Day.
Congress passes new VA Veterans Choice Program and Card for local medical care card. Please go to the page on this site for Vet Services for more in depth information at this time. It is coming but not quite ready for primetime.