Ahead of Veterans Day, Biden administration officials said Friday that the Department of Veterans Affairs will expand health care coverage for certain groups of veterans and their families and create new programs meant to make care more accessible.
The VA will make coverage of certain toxic burn pit-related conditions available sooner than anticipated. Family members of veterans who served at North Carolina’s Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 will be eligible to have the costs of treating Parkinson’s disease covered. And all World War II veterans will be eligible for no-cost health care, including at nursing homes, the department said in a series of news releases.
The administration will also create a new graduate medical education program to help expand health care availability for veterans in rural, tribal and other underserved communities, the department said. And the VA will spend $5 million on an advertising campaign aimed at having more veterans sign up for services.
“As we head into Veterans Day, we’re reminded of the fundamental promise that our country makes to anyone who signs up to serve in the military: If you fight for us, we’ll fight for you,” Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Tanya Bradsher told reporters Thursday.
The VA will speed up coverage for burn pit exposure that was part of a bipartisan law passed last year.
The law — which provides health care benefits to veterans exposed to toxic chemicals from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to certain other veterans — was written to be phased in over no more than 10 years. But President Joe Biden is directing the VA to make all affected veterans eligible for expanded benefits by early next year, according to a White House fact sheet.
The Camp Lejeune Family Member Program will be expanded to cover Parkinson’s disease. The program covers a host of conditions related to the contaminated drinking water at the base.
The department is planning an advertising campaign focused on “the most tangible, cost-saving benefits” to which veterans are entitled, according to the VA.