To qualify for treatment at a veterans hospital, a person must meet the requirements set by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The first requirement is enrollment in the VA Health Care System. To enroll, the patient may apply online at VA.gov or he may print an enrollment form from the VA website and mail it to the provided address. Alternatively, he can call his local veterans hospital and request enrollment information and forms.
As part of the enrollment process, a person must provide a copy of his current health insurance card. This is necessary whether the patient has private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. He must also provide a copy of his report of transfer or discharge, which is referred to as a DD214. If a veteran is a Purple Heart recipient, he must also provide a copy of his award letter. However, if the Purple Heart designation is on the DD214, a copy of the award letter isn’t required.
The eligible enrollee is someone who served on activity duty in the United States armed forces. A person may also be eligible if he served as a commissioned officer of another eligible organization, such as the Environmental Science Service. However, service by itself is not enough. The person must have been honorably discharged or otherwise released for reasons that are considered honorable. For example, a person who committed a crime that resulted in his dishonorable discharge from the military would not be eligible for VA health care.
In some cases, reservists may be eligible for veterans hospital care as well. They are eligible if they served on active duty for the entire time they were so ordered. National Guard members can become eligible in the same manner. However, there is an important stipulation: the active duty order may not have been limited to training.
There are also minimum-duty requirements in place for those who wish to receive care from a veterans hospital. Those who enlisted after 7 September 1980 are eligible if they had two years of service; they are also eligible if they served the entire time for which they were ordered, even if that period amounts to fewer than two years. The same goes for those ordered to active duty after 16 October 1981. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, an exception may be granted for those who were discharged early because of some type of hardship or disability.