Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced a new pilot program to help connect veterans in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities with benefits, programs and services earned as a result of their military service. For the first time in its 70-year history, the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs will hire veterans benefits advisors to exclusively assist veterans in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, including the veterans homes operated by the New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York.
“Our veterans answered the call to serve our nation, and we owe it to them to ensure they have access to the resources that they are rightfully able to obtain,” said Cuomo. “This new initiative will help ensure that when a new veteran patient enters a nursing home, they are better able to have their needs addressed and their quality of life improved.”
While the Division of Veterans’ Affairs has more than 40 accredited veterans benefits advisors covering 70 offices across the state, this new pilot program will, for the first time, hire several new ones that will be dispatched directly to skilled nursing facilities and provide enhanced outreach to veterans where they live. This provides a much-needed centralized point of contact for nursing home administrators when they encounter a veteran or a veteran’s family member who needs assistance with applying for federal and state veterans’ benefits.
The Veterans Benefits Advisors, all of whom will obtain accreditation to represent veterans and their family members before the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, will advocate free of charge for these veterans in claims and appeals for disability compensation, non-service-connected pensions, and other benefits, programs and services that can bring life-changing aid to a veteran and their family.
During the last calendar year alone, existing Veterans Benefits Advisors successfully obtained more than $75 million in new and recurring VA benefits for veterans and their family members throughout New York State.
The New York State Department of Health operates State Veterans Homes in the communities of Batavia, Montrose, Oxford and St. Albans. SUNY operates a State Veterans Home on the campus of SUNY Stony Brook.
Veterans with a VA disability compensation rating of 70 percent or higher receive skilled nursing care from these facilities free of charge. All other veterans and their spouses can receive skilled nursing care from these homes at a cost significantly lower than the price of most private facilities, as long as the veteran received an honorable discharge from the military and either entered military service from New York State or is a resident of New York State.