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New law expands health care options for veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one of the largest agencies in the United States government and is charged with overseeing the myriad benefits, including health care and financial assistance, that those who have served in the U.S. military services have earned. Unfortunately, as the number of vets has grown in recent years - due largely to actions in Afghanistan and Iraq - the agency has struggled with delivering VA benefits to the vets that are entitled to receive them. At the same time, VA has undergone a crisis of leadership with no current secretary yet confirmed after the previous VA secretary was fired in March.

It appears, however, that the embattled agency may have received a much-needed boost. Last week, the White House signed off on an overhaul of VA that had passed both chambers of Congress with considerable support from both sides of the aisle. USA Today reported that the VA Mission Act directs the agency to merge several private care programs in order to enlarge the opportunities vets have to seek private health care.

The agency's initial foray into private care came in 2014, after veterans who were awaiting appointments at a VA hospital died before they could be seen. Under the plan, some existing VA facilities will be repaired and new ones will be built. In areas where VA facilities are shuttered or unavailable, veterans will now be able to look to VA-funded private providers for health care.

This will relieve the agency of some of the costs and burdens associated with maintaining health care facilities and staff. Veterans who are unsure what benefits they may be entitled to or how to claim them should seek the help of an attorney experienced with such issues. A seasoned lawyer can help ensure veterans get the benefits they have earned.

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