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Health Insurance for the Military, Veterans, and Their Families

If you, your spouse, or your child’s other parent is or was a military service member, or if your spouse or your child’s parent died or was disabled in the line of duty, you may qualify for health coverage from a source different from your job or your state health insurance Marketplace.

VA health benefits

The Veterans Health Administration is a part of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that supplies health care benefits to US veterans.

Am I eligible for VA benefits?

If you were ever on active duty in the military, you might qualify for Veterans Administration (VA) health care if:

You enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981

You must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty, unless any of the descriptions below are true for you.

This minimum duty requirement may not apply if any of these are true:

  • You were discharged for a disability that was caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service, or
  • You were discharged for a hardship or “early out,” or
  • You served before September 7, 1980

If you’re a current or former member of the Reserves or National Guard

You must have been called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty. If you had or have active-duty status for training purposes only, you don’t qualify for VA health care.

If you served in certain locations and time periods during the Vietnam War era

You’re eligible for VA health care. 

What you need to know about VA mental health services

Even if you don’t have or aren’t eligible for VA health benefits, you have access to free VA mental health services. Some of these services include:  

  • Individual and group counseling
  • Couple and family counseling
  • Military sexual trauma counseling
  • Veteran Training online self-help portal
  • Tele-mental health programs
  • Prescription medications
  • Substance use assessment and referrals
  • Mental health apps for veterans
  • Peer assistance programs

Learn more about getting VA mental health services.

 For more information on VA health benefits and how to apply:


The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act of 2022 (PACT Act) is a newer law that increases VA health care benefits for veterans exposed to certain toxic substances. It includes several groups of veterans, including Vietnam era, Gulf War era, and post-9/11 combat veterans.

The PACT Act added more than 20 conditions and 11 types of cancers to the VA’s military service presumptive conditions list. If a veteran is diagnosed with one of these conditions or cancers, the VA assumes that toxic exposure during their military service led to the diagnosis.

Am I eligible for the VA PACT act?

These veterans may be eligible to receive disability compensation. If you are a surviving family member of a veteran, you may be eligible for certain benefits.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a new presumptive condition, you can file a disability claim online, by mail, or in person.

For more information on VA PACT Act

  • VA PACT Act
  • Call MyVA411 information line: 800-698-2411 (open 24/7)


TRICARE is the name of the US Department of Defense’s health system.  It supplies health care benefits to active duty and retired service members, as well as their dependents and survivors.

Am I eligible for TRICARE?

TRICARE health benefits are offered to:

  • Active duty or retired service member and their families
  • Members of the National Guard/Reserve and their families
  • Medal of Honor recipients and their families
  • Survivors
  • Others registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)

Family members applying for TRICARE benefits must be registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).

For more information on TRICARE


The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (CHAMPVA) is a government health benefits program. VA shares the cost of certain health care services and supplies with certain family members of veterans who are deceased or disabled due to their service.

Am I eligible for CHAMPVA?

To be eligible for CHAMPVA benefits:

  • You cannot be eligible for TRICARE benefits.
  • You are a spouse, surviving spouse, or child of a veteran with disabilities or who has died and meets certain criteria.
  • For people ages 65 and older, you must have Medicare Parts A and B.
  • Children become ineligible once they turn 18 years of age unless they are enrolled in an accredited school. If enrolled, coverage continues until they are 23 years of age.

For more information on CHAMPVA

Call CHAMPVA Help Line: 800-733-8387


Need more information?

Here are other organizations that might have helpful information for veterans.

Medicare – US Department of Health and Human Services
Toll-free number: 1-800-633-4227
TTY: 1-877-486-2048

Answers questions, provides literature, and gives referrals to state Medicare offices and local HMO’s with Medicare contracts.

US Department of Labor, Employee Benefits, Security Administration (EBSA)
Toll-free number: 1-866-444-3272

Information on employee benefit laws and requirements of employer-based health coverage. Special information for military reservists who must leave their private employers for active duty can be found at:


The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


TRICARE. New to TRICARE. Accessed July 27th. 2023.

TRICARE. Eligibility. Published 2019. Accessed July 27th, 2023.

Veterans Affairs. Exposure to hazardous chemicals and materials. Published April 30, 2020. Accessed July 27th, 2023, at

Veterans Affairs. PACT act toxic exposure screenings and your VA benefits. Published April 6, 2023. Accessed July 27, 2023.

Veterans Affairs. CHAMPVA benefits. Published January 15, 2020. Accessed Jul 28th. 2023.

Veterans Affairs. Eligibility for VA health care veterans affairs. Published October 11, 2019. Accessed July 27th, 2023.




Last Revised: September 30, 2023

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