Information on this page provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs operates the nation's largest integrated healthcare system which includes hospitals, community clinics, nursing homes, domiciliary, readjustment counseling centers, and various other facilities. 

Basic Eligibility

A person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable may qualify for VA healthcare benefits. Reservists and National Guard members may also qualify for VA healthcare benefits if they were called to active duty (other than for training only) by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA healthcare.

Minimum Duty Requirements

To be eligible, Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or who entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty. This minimum-duty requirement may not apply to veterans discharged for hardship, early out or a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

Certain VA benefits require service during wartime. Under these laws, the VA recognizes the following war periods:

    December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946, inclusive. If the veteran was in service on December 31, 1946, continuous service before July 26, 1947 is considered World War II service.
    June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955, inclusive.
    February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975, inclusive, in the case of a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975 is inclusive in all other cases.
    August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation.


For most Veterans, entry into the VA Healthcare System begins by applying for enrollment. While some Veterans are not required to enroll due to their special eligibility status, all Veterans - including those who have special eligibility - are encouraged to apply for enrollment. Enrollment helps the VA determine the number of potential Veterans who may seek VA healthcare services and is a very important part of their planning efforts.

Note: Enrollment in the VA Healthcare System does not necessarily mean that a Veteran has a service-connected disability.

To apply, complete VA Form 10-10EZ, Application for Health Benefits. This form can be obtained from any VA healthcare facility or regional benefits office, downloaded at, or requested by contacting the Columba VA Regional Office at (803) 647-2434 or contacting your local County Veterans' Affairs Office.

Once enrolled, Veterans can receive treatment at a VA healthcare facility anywhere in the country. Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system are afforded privacy rights under federal law. The following four categories of Veterans are not required to enroll, but are urged to do so to permit better planning of health resources:

  • Veterans with a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more;
  • Veterans seeking care for a disability the military determined was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, but which VA has not yet rated, within 12 months of discharge;
  • Veterans seeking care for a service-connected disability only;
  • Veterans seeking registry examinations (Depleted Uranium, Ionizing Radiation, Agent Orange, Gulf War/Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans).