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Taking Care of Our Veterans: Receive a Lifetime of Medical Care After Serving Our Country

Members of the United States military receive medical care as part of their service. They perform a valuable and sometimes dangerous duty for our country, and care is usually available on base throughout their duty.

But did you know that if you are a veteran of the military, you can continue to receive medical benefits that stretch throughout your lifetime? Even if your service lasted just a few years, you could take advantage of this offer.

Understanding the Difference Between a Veteran and a Retired Military Veteran

First, you need to understand your designation to grasp your health benefit status. Anyone who has served in the military and received anything besides a dishonorable discharge is considered a military veteran.

By contrast, those who spent at least 20 years in the service (including military forces, Reserves or National Guard) are considered retired military veterans. A person who was discharged because of a physical disability can also claim this status.

Health Care for Military Veterans

Your qualification for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) depends on a number of factors. The VA may cover your care based on:

  • When you served.

  • Your annual income.

  • If you have any disabilities related to your service.

  • If you get any other military benefits.

You can determine your eligibility for VA benefits by using the VA Health Benefits Explorer. Even if you apply and are turned down, your application status could change in the future.

Health Care for Retired Military Veterans

Both active duty and retired military get medical care under the TRICARE system. It includes medical, dental and pharmacy benefits that may encompass military treatment facility care and care purchased at a civilian provider that has a Department of Defense contract. The latter actually accounts for more care than the former, according to the military.

Retired military members, along with their family, may qualify for several health plans, including:

  • TRICARE Prime

  • TRICARE Select

  • TRICARE For Life (only available to those with Medicare Parts A and B)

  • TRICARE Select Overseas

  • U.S. Family Health Plan

National Guard or Reserve Retirees

Benefits for retired members of the Reserves or National Guard differ slightly. They are based on age:

  • For those under 60, you could qualify to purchase TRICARE Retired Reserve, and you could also buy dental coverage from the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program. If you choose not to buy it upon retiring, you will not be eligible again until age 60.

  • For those 60 and over, you receive eligibility for the same benefits as active duty retired service members, though what those are may depend on where you live.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Retired Military Healthcare?

TRICARE has differing price levels depending on your health plan and military status.

It isn’t easy navigating the benefits offered for military members based on their current status. If you have questions about what programs you may be eligible for, get in touch with Jay. He can provide the answers you need.


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