Table of Contents
Get Help Now – Crisis Resources – If you are in crisis, please call 911, go to your nearest Emergency Room, or call the Veterans Crisis Line available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 (Spanish/Español 1-888-628-9454). Veterans press “1” after you call.
Veterans Crisis Line – For veterans and family members. Communicate via phone (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1), chat, or text with a professional counselor. Hundreds of veterans have told me they received very helpful advice and support from the Veterans Crisis Line. In fact, I have never heard anything negative about the Crisis Line, which says a lot. A documentary about the Veterans Crisis Line won an Academy Award in 2015.
VA Mental Health Resources
Suicide Warning Signs – Are you or a family member at risk for suicide?
PTSD Info from other Vets – Learn about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from Veterans who’ve experienced it. Hear their stories. Find out how treatment turned their lives around.
National Center for PTSD – Extensive information, resources, and help for military veterans and their families from the international leader in PTSD research, education, and public awareness.
Online Mental Health Screening Questionnaires – These online questionnaires help you determine if you have an alcohol or other drug problem; depression; or PTSD.
Guide to VA Mental Health Services for Veterans & Families (PDF) | También está disponible en español: Guía de Servicios de Salud Mental que el Departamento de Asuntos de Veteranos Ofrece a los Veteranos y sus Familias
Military Sexual Trauma Fact Sheet – What is MST? How can the VA help?
Vet Center Program – Vet Centers provide free counseling to combat veterans, military sexual assault survivors, and their families. ==> Note that if you search on the Vet Center website for a location near you, the results will give you only the main office in your region. It does not give you satellite offices, or private practice therapists who see Vet Center patients at no cost to you, or Vet Center therapists who meet with vets at other locations in your region. I don’t know why this info is not on the Vet Center website, but that’s the way it is. Therefore, I suggest that you use the search engine on the Vet Center Locations page – but do not click on the map for your state, instead use the search field at the top, enter your Zip Code, and click Go. Then call the two Vet Center main offices nearest to you and ask them what they have available close to you.
Here are two excellent articles about Vet Centers:
Vet Centers – The Best Kept Secret of the VA – “There is one option [for combat vets] that is astoundingly easy to access even for active duty personnel but is still infuriatingly the best kept secret in the VA. The Vet Center.” Excellent blog post on ChicagoNow.
What is a Vet Center and what do they do there? – This website provides the answer!
VA Health Care
VA Health Care – VA medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics around the United States provide primary care, mental health, specialty care, nursing home and hospice services, and much more.
Easy Ways to Apply for VA Health Care – Several ways to apply for VA health care if you are not currently enrolled for care at a VA medical center.
VA Health Care Benefits Explorer – Enter your military service information and brief financial info to find out which VA health care services you can receive for free or with a copay.
Determine the Cost of VA Health Care for You – Another online method to get an idea of how much (if any) your VA health care will cost.
Financial Hardship – If times are tough, you probably qualify for free or very low-cost VA health care.
Telephone assistance – Call 1-877-222-8387 – M-F, 0800 to 2000 Eastern Time.
Veterans Disability Benefits
Veterans Benefits for PTSD – Wikipedia article with details on VA benefits for veterans suffering from PTSD. Comprehensive but succinct.
VetsFirst – “VetsFirst is a program of United Spinal Association that assists veterans and their eligible family members in obtaining the benefits they are entitled to, deserve and need.” Excellent resource for *all* vets.
Online Discussion Forums
Veterans Benefits Network Forums – Online forum run by and for veterans to discuss VA benefits of all kinds. It’s an online forum so you will read a variety of views and opinions, but overall, the vets on this forum provide very accurate information and superb support to fellow veterans. IMHO, it is the best online forum for veterans with benefits questions.
HadIt.com Veterans Discussion Forum – Another very helpful online discussion forum run by and for veterans.
Asknod Veterans Claims Help – Although the main blog author (“Asknod”) writes in a rambling style–which can be hard to understand at times–he and his colleagues provide extensive, very helpful information about veterans disability benefits. Plus, he has a wry, biting sense of humor that is fun to read once you get used to his writing style. Asknod is the go-to website for info regarding VA disability benefits for Hepatitis C. A high percentage of Vietnam veterans suffer from Hepatitis C, sometimes referred to as HCV, which stands for Hepatitis C Virus.
Breach Bang Clear – A raucous blog written by two bad-ass vets, a Soldier and a Marine, with opinion, commentary, news, weapons, tactics, irreverence, humor, seriousness, and good writing.
This Ain’t Hell – but you can see it from here – Incisive commentary, up-to-date news, Feel Good Stories, humor, and Stolen Valor reports. All the authors are combat veterans. Very popular site.
Compensation and Pension Examinations (C&P Exams)
Advice for Veterans – VA PTSD Compensation and Pension Exam – Advice for veterans who have filed a VA disability benefits claim for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and have been scheduled for a Compensation and Pension examination (C&P exam).
Advice for Veterans – PTSD Military Sexual Trauma (MST) C&P Exams – Suggestions for MST survivors to file a successful claim for VA disability compensation benefits, although much of the information applies to veterans disability benefits claims in general.
What to Expect at Your C&P Exam – Well-written article for veterans that explains what you can expect at your C&P exam and how to prepare.
What to Expect at Your C&P Exam (Video) – A 5-minute video produced by the Department of Veterans Affairs that describes what veterans can expect at their C&P exam.
Exam Tips from a Veterans Law Attorney – Check out lawyer Chris Attig’s 10 Tips to Help You Keep the C&P Exam in Perspective. He offers excellent advice from a legal perspective, which is entirely consistent with the suggestions I provide from a psychologist’s perspective.
Legal Help for Veterans
American Bar Association – Pro Bono [free] legal representation for veterans.
GI Rights Hotline – Information about discharge upgrades.
National Veterans Legal Services Program – Free legal representation before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
NOLO – Information about hiring a VA-certified veterans disability lawyer.
OutServe-SLDN – Information about the discharge upgrade process, if you were you discharged from the military under prior regulations regarding sexual orientation.
Stateside Legal – Legal help for military members, veterans and their families.
Find a Veterans Service Officer
See obtaining assistance on Wikipedia for general information about veterans service officers (representatives) and how they can help veterans file disability compensation claims for PTSD and other mental disorders.
If you are a veteran, a Veterans Service Officer is your advocate. He or she is on your side, and will help you throughout the disability claims process. You do not have to pay for a Veterans Service Officer’s help because they are either state employees, or they work for a nonprofit veterans service organization.
Find a Veterans Service Officer Search Engine – County Veterans Service Officers are public employees of their State’s (or U.S. Territory’s) veterans affairs agency. They are often called County Veterans Service Officers, because a majority of the states have set up local veterans affairs offices in each of their state’s counties. The National Association of County Veterans Service Officers provides an easy-to-use Find a Service Officer Tool on their website.
You can also search on the VA website for a veterans service officer (representative). The search field looks like the image below (note that what you see below is just an image, i.e., if you want to use the actual search engine, go to the VA website). But note that the VA ‘Accreditation Search’ form is not user-friendly. Since it is confusing, here is some advice on how to use it effectively:
First, be aware that the VA uses the terms VSO Representative and Veterans Service Officer interchangeably. With that proviso in mind, here are my suggestions for using the VA’s ‘Accreditation Search’ form:
- Click the circle next to VSO Representative.
- Leave the Last Name box blank.
- Leave the First Name box blank.
- Select your State from the drop-down menu.
- IMPORTANT: Leave the City box blank.
- IMPORTANT: Leave the Postal Code box blank.
- Click the Search button.
I recommend searching in this manner because if you type in your City, the search engine will return the names of service officers whose office address is within the city limits of that city only. Service officers who are located just outside the city limits–and who might actually be closer to you–will not be listed. The same is true for Postal Code, i.e., if you type in your zip code, the search engine will list service officers whose office is in that zip code only.
You can also use the form to search for veterans law attorneys and accredited claims agents.
NOTE: The form you see below is merely a picture (image) of the actual form–you cannot type into the form you see below. If you want to use the actual form, click here to go to the ‘Accreditation Search’ form on the VA website.
NOTE: The form you see above is merely a picture (image) of the actual form–you cannot type into the form you see above. If you want to use the actual form, click here to go to the ‘Accreditation Search’ form on the VA website.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.