VA Claims They Are Prepared For Post-Deployment Era

March 27, 2003

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America's Veterans

When troops return home from the Middle East, they will benefit from a wide array of programs and services not available to veterans of previous conflicts, according to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi.

"We will be on the alert for environmental exposures and other unforeseen risks to the health of our service personnel," he said. He noted that since 1998 the VA has had the authority to provide free medical care for veterans newly returned from a combat zone even without a service-connected disability. That eligibility lasts for two years after a veteran leaves active duty, although anyone with medical problems related to military service can qualify for life-long VA health care. He also cited the development by VA and DoD of standardized guidelines for physicians examining military personnel after deployment and the establishment by VA of War-Related Illness Centers in Washington and East Orange, N.J.