Veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other recent combat zones may enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for benefits by 11:59 p.m. local time on Sept. 30 as part of the PACT Act.
The special enrollment period is part of the largest expansion of Veterans Affairs benefits in decades. Since the PACT Act was signed into law on Aug. 10, 2022, more than 344,000 veterans have enrolled in VA health care and more than 4.2 million have been screened for toxic exposures.
The deadline applies to the following veterans of active-duty service in:
- A theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War.
- Combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after Nov. 11, 1998.
And both of these must apply:
- You were discharged or released between Sept. 11, 2001, and Oct. 1, 2013.
- You haven't enrolled in VA health care before.
Although the deadline applies to this specific group, veterans from other eras, including most who served in Vietnam and the Gulf War and those who transitioned out of the service less than 10 years ago, may enroll directly in VA health care without first applying for VA benefits. Veterans who do not meet this criteria may still be eligible for VA health by filing for benefits based on income or if they have a service-connected health condition.