Over the past three years, the Hines Community Outreach Team has been coming to the Naperville VFW Post on the first Tuesday of each month. In that time we have enrolled 200-plus Veterans in the VA Healthcare System. There have been at least that many Veterans that didn’t qualify due to income restrictions. They were “making too much money.”

Many left the Post that day feeling very angry. The one thing everyone has to understand is that those restrictions were made into law by Congress. The VA must abide by those laws. If you want the law changed you must contact your Congressman and let him know your thoughts. Service Officers and Veteran Advocates nationwide did that and this past month the VA Mission Act was passed which helps Veterans even more in many areas.

If you come to the Post the first Tuesday of the month and you don’t qualify for VA healthcare due to income restrictions, there is another option. Tell the admin clerk that you want to be enrolled in Priority Group 8. What that means is that you aren’t eligible for benefits at this time, but you are in the system. As we all know things can change in your life rather quickly. When they do and your income has changed contact the VA Eligibility office or me and let us know that your situation has changed. Since they already have your information, all that has to be done is change your eligibility status.

One other thing to remember – and this is most important – is that all medical expenses are deductible from your income. That includes medical insurance premiums, prescription drug costs and any out of pocket medical expenses. The Veteran must also have his DD-214 or discharge papers in order to prove eligibility.

By now you have probably heard about the new shingles vaccine called Shingrix. The current schedule for the VA to receive the vaccine is sometime in June. Even if you already had a shingles shot you need to get this one. It is actually two shots. The Hines VA has made the decision that all Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare will get the shots at no cost to them.