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Our nation’s veterans deserve high-quality health care. Much attention is given to the Department of Veterans Affairs, but many people don’t know that Medicaid is important as well. The VA is focused on veterans who are service-connected from military service for health care. Most veterans are not service-connected.

Nearly 2 million U.S. veterans and their families depend on Medicaid for checkups, mental health services and other care. Our heroes often face financial instability and challenges reintegrating into civilian life. Medicaid is there for them if necessary. Of veterans who rely on Medicaid, over half have a disability that is not service-connected. Approximately one in 10 suffers from a serious mental illness. Medicaid can provide care.

The program is valuable in rural areas where resources are scarce. Medicaid can be the clearest pathway to care.

When I returned from Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, I worked for the then Veterans Administration for several years as a mental health professional. We adjudicated service connection which was key to receiving benefits from the VA. So, if you were not service-connected then benefits were often unavailable. The same applies today.

Thus, Medicaid is the pathway for treating non-service-related veterans. Thankfully, Medicaid is a safety net for veterans.

Cliff Larsen,


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