More than 20,000 veterans living with MS are enrolled with the Veterans Health Administration. In addition, a 2004 study identified 5,345 cases of MS among U.S. veterans who first entered military service between 1960 and 1994, and whose MS was deemed “service connected” by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Are You Eligible for VA Benefits?
If you are a veteran diagnosed with MS within seven years of your separation from the military, the Veterans Health Administration could classify your illness as related to your military service and award you a “service-connected” disability.
- If you separated more than seven years ago, you might still be eligible. You must have a diagnosis by a healthcare provider, preferably a neurologist, who directly links the symptoms you had during those seven years to your current diagnosis.
To find out if you are eligible, read the VA eligibility criteria or call the VA benefits line at 1-800-827-1000.
Applying for VA Benefits
The National MS Society developed these tips to assist you in deciding whether you are eligible for VA benefits and navigating the application process. Download here.
MS Centers of Excellence
The Veterans Health Administration has established MS Centers of Excellence to serve the health care needs of veterans living with MS. Located in Seattle and Portland (West) and in Baltimore (East), the Centers provide clinical care, education and training, research, and more. Find out more about the MS Centers of Excellence.
Defense Funding for MS Research
During the past two federal funding cycles, Congress has recognized the need for more research by allocating nearly $10 million for MS research under the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) at the Department of Defense. Read more on this issue.
While this initial funding is a good start, the DoD already has received an overwhelming number of applications for MS research funding through the program. This demonstrates a clear need for additional funding. Increasing the program to $15 million would help fund key studies to help researchers explore potential environmental risks, new treatments, and a cure for MS.
Money for this program is added every year during the Congressional budget process in response to requests by advocates and disease survivors. Given emerging evidence linking combat service to increased incidence rates of MS, the Society believes this is an appropriate source for MS research funding. To stay up to date on this and other MS issues, sign up here.
Veterans Health Council
The National MS Society is an original member of the Veterans Health Council, which strives to improve health care for veterans. It creates an ongoing forum for the medical and clinical professions, employee representatives, advocacy organizations, and healthcare firms to:
- Inform veterans and their families about health issues and benefits available to them
- Educate health care communities about the multiple health issues associated with military service
- Develop materials on veterans’ health issues for medical schools, nursing schools, teaching hospitals, and related educational outlets
- Advocate on behalf of veterans’ healthcare initiatives
For more information on the Veterans Health Council, click here or call 301-585-4000.