A friend of the veterans’ blog wanted me to share this important information with veterans in the Houston County area of Minnesota.

Rob Gross, Director of Houston County Veteran Services, says that a large number of vets are eligible to receive hearing aids and eye glasses through a VA medical center. Those eligible must meet at least one of the following requirements:

Must have a compensable service-connected disability

Must have been a former POW

Must have received a Purple Heart service award

Must be receiving benefits under Title 28 of US Code (U.S.C.) 1151

Must be in receipt of an increased pension due to the fact that they are homebound and require regular assistance

Those who have vision or hearing loss or impairment connected to diseases and chronic medical conditions for which the vet is receiving care at a VA medical center, or a condition that occurred following treatment for another illness, i.e. stroke, brain injury, etc.

Those with evident functional or cognitive issues that affect the veteran’s ability to perform daily tasks

Those who have vision or hearing impairments so significant that they interfere with their daily lives, including participation in medical treatment

Those who have service-connected vision disabilities rated zero percent or service-connected hearing issues rated zero percent

For veterans who are interested in learning more about their eligibility, the first step is to verify your enrollment in the VA Healthcare Network. Enrollment permits the vet to receive both inpatient and outpatient services ranging from immunizations to surgery to mental health services.

Vets in Houston County can call 507-725-5805 to enroll or ask questions regarding VA Healthcare Network available services.

Many vets face hearing and vision loss, especially in their older years. But there are also other, perhaps more serious health risks that all veterans face, and that is the development of mesothelioma, a rare cancer that occurs in the lining of the heart, lungs or abdomen. Mesothelioma is caused by previous asbestos exposure, and countless vets were exposed while serving on naval ships, while working on military vehicles or planes, and while living in aging military housing. Many veterans receive a mesothelioma diagnosis each year, and 30% of them happen to be Navy vets.

It’s crucial that vets – as well as active military personnel – monitor their respiratory health. Mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases have long latency periods, as long as fifty years, and symptoms often mimic those of other illnesses like lung cancer or even the flu, so diagnosis can be tricky.

All vets should call their local VA with questions they may have about medical issues and their health.