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Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Online Access to Benefits

At least five years ago, I was invited to breakfast by a shirt-tail cousin (his term) and fellow Veteran. I joined a table of Veterans; each having seen many more birthdays than I. I was not a CVSO then, and it was nice to have that Veteran connection. “Our” table now sits empty, as too many of my friends are no longer with us. Despite the losses, I still spend nearly every Friday morning at Judy’s Café. Sometimes old habits are hard to break, and I have been welcomed at a new table.

Regardless of the table or the company, the conversation is always varied and informa­tive. This past week included a confession by one of the regulars that he had joined the masses and retired his flip phone for a smartphone. We still have one flip phone hold out at the table. Input from the crowd quickly turned to all the things the recent technology convert could do and accomplish with the new phone.

I understand technology is not for every­one. However, the trend seems to be leaning in favor of online or internet-based solutions. VA is no exception, as they continue to move benefits, processes, and forms to online plat­forms. I would like to share a few of those solutions for the brave and adventurous will­ing to use a computer or smartphone.

In a previous article, I talked about commis­sary/exchange privileges on military bases for service-connected disabled Veterans. The Veterans Canteen Service (VCS) was estab­lished by VA in 1946 to provide merchandise and services at reasonable prices to Veterans enrolled in VA healthcare, their families, VA employees and caretakers. While VCS oper­ates retail, food, coffee and vending services in VA Medical Centers across the country, they also have an online store. One more rea­son to enroll in VA healthcare! Visit the VCS website at www.shopvcs.va.gov

Veterans have been able to apply for ben­efits, check status, and manage benefits on­line at www.ebenefits.va.gov Online access to VA healthcare (MyHealtheVet) including prescriptions, appointments, messages and health records is available at www.myhealth.va.gov All of these resources are being moved to a single location at www.va.gov.

I would encourage all Veterans, able and willing, to create an account on va.gov. The account and services are free to use, and you might be able to accomplish a task without a phone call or sitting on hold for what may seem like an eternity.

Brad Anderson is the Lake County Veter­ans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.834.8326, or cvso@co.lake.mn.us

Karen Christianson is the Cook County Vet­erans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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