Combat veterans who left active duty between September 11, 2001 and October 1, 2013 are now eligible to enroll in VA Health Care without applying for VA Disability first. This open enrollment period is a part of the PACT Act’s VA health care expansion and will end September 30, 2023.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough said, “Are you a Veteran who deployed to a combat zone but never enrolled in VA health care? If you left active duty between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013, you should sign up now. Even if you don’t need this care now, you may need it in the future—and once you’re in, you have access for life. But don’t wait—the deadline is Sept. 30—so go to VA.gov/PACT and apply today.”
In order to be eligible for VA Health Care, the majority of the veteran population must have a service-connected medical condition and apply first for VA Disability. Some groups of veterans, however, already do not have to first apply for VA Disability, including Gulf War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans, and combat veterans who left active duty within the last 10 years.
Combat veterans who transitioned between 2001 and 2013 are now outside of the 10-year open-enrollment window, but the PACT Act determined that they are likely to have significant medical conditions arise in the future due to their service. Because of this, the PACT Act instituted an additional window allowing them to enroll in VA Health Care without first applying for VA Disability. This window, which closes September 30th, 2023, will allow them to receive immediate essential medical care if/when conditions develop in the future.
Whether or not you need medical care right now, if you qualify for VA health care under this window, enroll now. Once enrolled, you will be able to receive care throughout the rest of your life, so it is an important investment for your future.