The Department of Veterans Affairs is known for providing health services to those who have served in the military, but it offers a variety of other benefits that get much less attention and use.
About 23 million people have served in uniform in the United States, but just 9 million are interacting with VA services, so getting information to the larger community was the aim of a website revamp.
"Nine million is a lot of people to be getting health care and education benefits, but it's not the whole addressable market of 23 million people,” says Clare Martorana, chief information officer at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, who worked with the department to modernize its website.
The website has been simplified so vets can easily navigate the four areas that account for more than 80 percent of the department's transactions.
Now users can discover what benefits are available, apply for them online, and track progress or manage benefits such as prescriptions, Martorana says. “You can't eliminate or reduce the number of veteran suicides if you're not speaking to all of your customers,” she says.
Among the underutilized benefits available to veterans:
Aid and attendance
Veterans and their survivors can qualify for a monthly pension if they need help with daily activities, are bedridden, live in a nursing home, or even have limited eyesight.
Family caregivers can take advantage of a variety of services, such as a help support line, peer mentoring, online workshops and a comprehensive financial assistance program.
Transfer GI benefits to spouse or children
The GI Bill helps pay for education benefits, and a veteran who doesn't use all of his or her GI allowances can transfer the remaining benefits to a spouse or child.