Q: What services does the VA provide to veterans?

A: The Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA as it is commonly referred to, helps veterans who become disabled through an injury, disease, or aggravation of an existing condition while in service to the country. The VA provides health services, cash payments and other benefits to eligible veterans.

Q: How can veterans find more information about what they may be eligible for?

A: For more information about VA benefits and eligibility criteria for those benefits, the Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents booklet can be found at www1.va.gov/OPA/vadocs/FEDBEN.pdf. Many Iowa counties have county veterans service officers who are experts on veterans benefits. It’s their job to make sure veterans get benefits to which they are entitled. There are also many veterans service organizations that can help veterans navigate the system. Some of those organizations are the Disabled Veterans of America, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Vietnam Veterans of America. The VA Regional Office, which serves all military veterans in Iowa, is located in the Federal Building in Des Moines and can be reached by calling toll-free 1-800-827-1000. More information is available at www.va.gov. Caseworkers in my offices in Iowa are available to help veterans and their families cut through red tape if the bureaucracy is unresponsive. I stand ready to do whatever I can within the law to help veterans having trouble dealing with the VA. Veterans have risked everything to protect our way of life. For generations they have defended our homeland and helped to preserve freedom around the world. While U.S. service members haven’t hesitated to take to the field of battle, service often places a significant physical and emotional toll. We shouldn’t hesitate to make sure the veterans placed in the line of fire receive the care needed to deal with the wounds they have received in our defense.

Q: How are you working in the U.S. Senate to help veterans?

A: Many veterans coming home from recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan bring with them injuries that are harder to see, yet no less troubling. The psychological toll is sometimes too much as our veterans struggle to get back into the workforce, society and family life. Unfortunately, many of these injuries go undetected. That’s why I’m working in the U.S. Senate to improve treatment and care for veterans suffering mental injuries like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury from serving in combat zones. For instance, in 2007, I worked with then-Senator Obama to make sure the military was not improperly discharging service members who had served in combat zones for “pre-existing” personality disorders. A personality disorder discharge may render these men and women ineligible for medical care they need from the VA. I recently wrote a letter to President Obama hoping to receive his continued support on this very important issue. I will keep up the fight to make sure our service members and veterans receive fair treatment from the federal government.