This is in response to Marc Jalbert’s letter (Nov. 12), “Information missing?” about veterans health care benefits.

It is a common perception that all veterans receive care from the Veterans Health Administration but, in reality, that is not the case. It is far more complex. Many elements, including duty status, service-connected disability and income determine eligibility.

Even when eligible, veterans fall into priority groups that determine if a veteran qualifies for free health care or if they must partially pay for some services.

Understanding VHA eligibility is a daunting task and Jalbert’s letter underscores the complexity.

I appreciate his concern about the availability of VHA services. It is important that we, as Mainers and Americans, engage in thoughtful discussion about caring for our veterans.

Many homeless or low-income veterans do qualify for VHA care. Unfortunately, many also face barriers to accessing VA care, such as a lack of transportation, missing service documents that can take frustratingly long to retrieve, or even a lack of knowledge about available VA services.

Also, many reservists and National Guard members are ineligible unless they are deployed, and even then, eligibility may sunset after a few years.

The VA provides excellent health care for millions of our nation’s veterans but there are millions more who are not enrolled in the VA system or do not qualify. Maine has the option to expand health care and ensure access to care for approximately 3,000 of them who live here in Maine.

Wayne Werts, Auburn, Representative for District 70

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