Great Falls Tribune: Veterans get help solving VA 'mystery'

The federal government is simplifying how veterans can apply for and get health, disability and educational benefits, “but navigating the Veterans Administration system is still a mystery to many,” U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said Wednesday.

The Montana Democrat held a three-hour workshop in Great Falls, during which experts gave tips on particular programs to nearly 100 active-duty military members, veterans and their families.

Tester, the first Montana senator to serve on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, has pushed legislation increasing the mileage reimbursement rate for veterans traveling to VA medical centers from 11 cents to 41 cents a mile, and boosting the number of Montana veterans clinics from eight to 14.

“We’re trying to make sure veterans get the benefits they’ve earned,” he said. “We’re breaking down bureaucratic walls and making the system more user-friendly.”

For instance, Tester said the VA has hired more medical professionals in rural states to treat veterans who suffered brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder, but it still needs more.

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