The California Department of Veterans Affairs says just over 20 percent of former servicemembers are using their health care benefits.
The department says an even lower percentage of California vets claim the compensation or pension they’re entitled to. It says those rates are lower than the national average.
“I served 22 years in the military, I’m a combat veteran, and yet I was unaware of some of the benefits associated with service."
~Mirtha Villareal, with the California Department of Veterans Affairs.
She says even she didn’t know about a home loan program available to her. And that sometimes former servicemembers don’t see themselves as veterans.
“While you’re in the military you’re probably not thinking about “the after,” she says. "And the other reason is probably because you don’t classify yourself as a veteran. You know the idea of a veteran is, we see an older perso."
Villareal says she and her colleagues are hosting forums to educate veterans about their benefits and will gather information about why former service people aren’t signing up.
“Whether it’s generation, whether it’s educational, what are the barriers?” she says.
Villarreal says veterans are entitled to educational subsidies in addition to health and disability benefits.