Hurricane Harvey is wreaking havoc on America. The catastrophic flooding has affected more than 13 million people in Texas and Louisiana, including more than 500,000 veterans. Houston, America’s fourth largest city, is underwater, prompting some officials to call Harvey the worst national disaster ever to strike Texas.
With representatives from the Texas National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard and other military agencies providing rescue services, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has issued notices about several veteran benefits that have been changed temporarily for those affected by the storm.
The changes affect the following:
- VA hospitals and clinics
- Tricare Pharmacy
- GI Bill
If you or a family member are in the impacted areas, you should expect some changes to your VA benefits.
VA Hospitals and Clinics
Several VA hospital and as many as 115 VA clinics in the affected areas have been closed due to the storm. Several mobile centers have been set up to care for veterans in need of medical attention. However, the Houston VA Medical Center said on its website that it is open for business.
Tricare has placed a “state of emergency” in the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Tricare users in Louisiana and some counties in Texas are able to receive emergency prescription refills at any Tricare network pharmacy.
In some counties, requirements for a referral to receive specialty care have been waived for Tricare beneficiaries. If you need to be seen by a medical provider, simply make an appointment in your general area. Check the Tricare website for updates.
Students receiving a housing stipend through the GI Bill will continue to receive funds, even if their school is closed due to flooding. Usually, these housing allowances are halted when school is not in sessions, but exceptions are being made for hurricane victims.
For more information on VA benefits, visit www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/