VA travel benefits increased

Several changes for travel to VA Health Care facilities have been implemented, or are being implemented at this time

Highlights include the fact VA will now reimburse at the rate of 41.5 cents per mile to any VAHC facility, regardless of distance. This is a substantial increase from the previous 28.5 cents per mile. The new rate became effective Nov. 17, 2008.

This means our veterans from Archuleta County can now apply for VA travel money to Durango, Farmington or Albuquerque. There is no minimum distance requirement.

If you travel to Albuquerque travel money will be issued on the spot. Travel pay to outlying VAHC facilities must be applied for by application form and a check will be mailed to the successful applicant from Albuquerque.

All veterans enrolled in VAHC can apply for the travel pay. However, all the normal pre-qualification rules still apply and include:

• You have a service-connected (SC) rating of 30 percent or more; or

• you are traveling for treatment of a SC condition; or

• you receive a VA Pension; or

• your income does not exceed the maximum annual VA Pension rate; or

• you are traveling for a scheduled compensation or pension examination.

Scheduled appointments to a VAHC facility qualify for round-trip mileage. Unscheduled visits may be limited to return mileage only.

There is a deductible of $7.77 one-way ($15.54 round trip). Deductible requirement is subject to a monthly cap of $46.62. Upon reaching $46.62 in deductibles or six one-way (three round) trips, whichever comes first, travel payments made for the balance of that particular month will be free of deductible charges.

Deductible may be waived if you meet certain qualifications of income and SC or Pension requirements.

More information can be obtained on this important benefit at the VA Web site, www.va.gov.

Be sure and check with your VAHC appointment facility for travel pay or application. Veterans who qualify for VA travel money are not eligible for our local Archuleta County Grant travel pay.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays — call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198 — and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays — call Harriet Mulnix (505) 793-1782.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 400 South Camino Del Rio, Suite G, next to Big 5 Sports. Phone number is 247-2214.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The office number is 731-3837.