The White House today launched a pair of veteran-focused campaigns to encourage broader use of federal benefits while also warn about scams targeting those support services.
The announcement, made one day ahead of Veterans Day commemorations, accompanies a series of moves by the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand health care access for veterans and eligible family members. And it comes just days after administration officials reported record-high benefits processing and health care appointment figures over the last year.
This weekend will mark the start of a new $5 million national advertising campaign dubbed “What You Earned” to raise public awareness of benefits such as VA health care, veterans education support and no-cost burial services for veterans.
Only about half of the roughly 18 million veterans living in America today have regular contact with Veterans Affairs benefits officials. In a statement, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the goal of the new campaign is to boost that number.
“All too often, veterans don’t know about the full scope of the health care and benefits they’ve earned through their service to our nation,” he said. “We want to show veterans and their families – in the most tangible terms possible – how VA can help them afford to stay healthy, go to school, buy a home, and more.”
Among the newest benefits are free health care and nursing home services for all World War II veterans and reimbursement for veterans’ family members for Parkinson’s disease health care costs linked to water contamination issues at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
The expanded benefits for World War II veterans were mandated by Congress in December 2022 but are just now being implemented. VA officials said the changes in the Camp LeJeune Family Member program fix a gap in coverage that has caused issues in recent years.
Last year, VA officials processed a record 1.98 million disability claims and paid out $163 billion in various veterans benefits.
In light of that volume and increasing signs of predatory companies targeting some of those benefits, the White House will also launch a new Veteran Scam and Fraud Evasion task force that will bring together staff from numerous federal agencies for “an all-hands effort to safeguard veterans and their families.”
Officials said that work will include partnerships with veterans advocates on the issue of fraud prevention, a series of public service announcements highlighting the problem, and holding listening sessions in coming months to identify vulnerabilities in VA systems meant to root out scams.
President Joe Biden and senior VA leaders are expected to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday as part of national celebrations connected to Veterans Day.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.