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Veterans with Multiple Sclerosis

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Overview

The National MS Society signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, MS Centers of Excellence, in 2019 to improve care and expand resources for veterans living with multiple sclerosis and their families.

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs - MS Centers of Excellence

In 2003 the Department of Veterans Affairs established the VA MS Centers of Excellence (MSCoE). The MSCoE utilize a network of regional programs, telemedicine and informatics to:
  • improve care for veterans with MS,
  • enhance MS education for patients, caregivers and providers
  • promote research into the causes and treatments for MS.
Learn more at the MSCoE website.

The MSCoE consist of coordinating centers in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, for the western US, and in Baltimore, Maryland, for the eastern U.S., and approximately 70 regional MS programs distributed throughout the US. Find the nearest VA clinics and MS Centers of Excellence online or via email at MSCentersofExcellence@va.gov.

VA benefits

If you are a veteran diagnosed with MS within 7 years of your separation from the military, the Veterans Health Administration may classify your illness as related to your military service and award you a “service-connected” disability. You may still be eligible if you separated from the military more than 7 years ago: you must have a diagnosis by a healthcare provider, preferably a neurologist, who links the symptoms you had during those 7 years directly to your current diagnosis.  Some veterans have had success by using a "nexus" letter.

To find out if you are eligible, read the VA eligibility criteria or call the VA benefits line at 800-827-1000.

When applying for benefits, make sure you have a complete and ongoing journal of:
  • All of your symptoms. Include dates, duration, severity, names of medical providers, and any witnesses who can attest to the limitations imposed by your MS.
  • Questions for your healthcare providers. Take it with you to all medical appointments.
  • File of all your medical records (military and non-military). You must have a copy of your DD Form 214 and documentation of all your medical information to date. This information could help support a case for future rating increases.
  • Disabled American Veterans: DAV is a national, nonprofit organization that provides free, professional assistance to veterans and their families in obtaining disability compensation benefits and services earned through military service and provided by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Dept. of Defense (DOD) and other government agencies. DAV’s services are offered at no cost to all generations of veterans, their families and survivors. Read more.
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America: Since 1946, PVA has been a leading advocate for quality health care, spinal cord research and education, veterans’ benefits, and civil rights for veterans and all people with disabilities. PVA assists veterans, including those with MS, to qualify for VA benefits and healthcare; contact PVA directly for help navigating the system to access benefits earned through military services.
Call your local Paralyzed Veterans of America service office a 800-424-8200 or another accredited veterans service organization to ensure you receive all your entitled VA benefits.

Additional resources

Resources from the VA MS Centers of Excellence Resources from the VA ​Momentum articles National Veterans Resources Veterans Care Options
  • Assisted Living Research InstituteRead about assisted living supports for disabled and senior veterans.
  • Caring.com: Veterans can use this free resource to find comprehensive information on topics like financial support and care options. Specific to veterans.
Featured Video

A Veteran's Perspective

While serving as an officer on the bridge of the USS Bonhomme Richard in 2009, Donnie Horner was diagnosed with MS.

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