General Information

Are you aware of your benefits?

During the civil war, president Abraham Lincoln affirmed our nation's commitment.

" care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan..."

-Abraham Lincoln

His eloquent words have endured and served today as the motto of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the federal agency responsible for honoring our debt of gratitude to America's defenders. From the World Wars of the 20th Century to the 21st Century's war on terror, VA benefits have evolved to meet the changing needs of veterans, whether you were injured on the home front in peace-time, or wounded overseas in time of war.

This information has been assembled by the Chisago County Veterans Service Office, and was made possible through a grant by the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. It is our mission to provide assistance and support to veterans and their dependents in obtaining their rightful benefits through county, state, and federal programs and to act as an advocate on their behalf or direct them to other authorized agencies as their needs dictate.

Call for an appointment with the Chisago County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) at 651-213-5605

Eligibility for Veterans Benefits

All veteran's benefits (with exception of Government Issued (GI) insurance and certain medical benefits) payable to veterans and their dependents require that the particular period of service upon which entitlement is based be terminated under conditions other than dishonorable. Honorable and general discharges qualify the veteran as eligible for benefits. Dishonorable discharges and bad conduct discharges issued by general court martial are a bar to veterans benefits. Other bad conduct discharges characterized by the service departments as other than honorable may or may not qualify depending on a special determination, made by the veterans administration, based on facts of each case, as to whether the veteran was separated from the service under "dishonorable conditions" or "other than dishonorable conditions."

The law generally denies benefits to people originally enlisting in military service after September 7, 1980, and to all other people entering military service after October 16, 1981, who do not complete the shorter of 24 months of continuous active duty, or the full period for which the person was called or ordered to active duty. The provision does not apply to veterans who have a commensurable service-connected disability or who were discharged for convenience of the government, for reasons of hardship, or for a disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty. It also does not apply to insurance benefits, or the provision of any benefits for, or in connection with a service-connected disability, condition or death.

Were You Injured or Exposed While In Service?

Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is a monetary benefit paid to veterans who are disabled by an injury or disease that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. These disabilities are considered to be service-connected. Disability compensation varies with the degree or disability and the number of dependents, and is paid monthly. The benefits are not subject to federal or state income tax.


PACT Act: Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act. The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or "presume") are caused by exposure to these substances. Check out the Quick Guide to the PACT Act (PDF) for more information.

Prisoners of War

For former Prisoners Of War (POW) who were imprisoned for any length of time, certain disabilities are presumed.

Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange & Other Herbicides

A veteran who served in-country Vietnam between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975 is presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and other herbicides used in support of military operations. If eligible, veterans may be compensated for specific diseases, such as Adult Type II Diabetes, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers, Ischemic Heart Disease and more.

Veterans Exposed to Radiation

For veterans exposed to ionizing radiation while on active duty certain diseases / conditions are presumed to be service-connected.

Gulf War Veterans

Gulf War Veterans may receive disability compensation for chronic disabilities resulting from undiagnosed illnesses, medically unexplained chronic multi symptom illnesses defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome, and any diagnosed illness that warrants a presumption of service connection.

If you were injured in any way during your period of military service and still suffer today as a result of that injury, you may be entitled to VA disability compensation. Contact your CVSO to discuss the possibility of filing your claim.

War Era Veteran Pensions

War Era Veterans with low incomes who are permanently and totally disabled, or are age 65 and older, may be eligible for monetary support if they have 90 days or more of active military service, and at least one day of which was during a period of war. Combat duty is not required.

Improved Disability Pension

Congress establishes the maximum annual pension rates. Payments are reduced by the amount of countable income of veteran, spouse or dependent children. Three "rates" are available depending on the veteran's or widow's physical condition: Basic Rate, Housebound Rate, and a skilled nursing care rate titled Aid and Attendance.

Death Pension

VA provides pensions to low-income surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with wartime services.

Check out the Accrued Benefits and Substitution Flyer (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for more information.

Check out the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Flyer (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for more information.

VA Health Care Services

Contact your CVSO by calling 651-213-5605 for an appointment to enroll and discuss eligibility for VA Health Care. Check out the Veteran Community Care Eligibility Flyer (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for more informaiton.

VA provides a number of health care services:

  • Hospital, outpatient medical, dental, pharmacy and prosthetic services
  • Sexual trauma counseling
  • Specialized health care for women veterans
  • Readjustment counseling
  • Health and rehabilitation program for homeless veterans
  • Alcohol and drug dependency treatment
  • Medical evaluation for disorders associated with military service in the Gulf War, or exposure to Agent Orange, radiation, and other environment hazards
  • Combat Veterans - VA will provide combat veterans free medical care for any illness possibly associated with service during a period of hostility for 5 years from the veteran's release from active duty.

Minnesota VA Health Care Systems

Chisago County Veterans Van

Provides transportation for veteran's appointments at the VA Health Care System Minneapolis, Maplewood, and St Cloud. Call Wendy at 651-213-5605. Check out our Need A Ride? Flyer (PDF) for more inforamation.

Dental, Optical & Hearing Benefits

The VA Health Care Systems provide limited dental care, generally to veterans who are service connected for dental conditions or who are 100% service connected for any conditions. Eyeglasses and hearing aids may be provided for veterans who are service connected for these conditions.

The State of Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs recently introduced new income and asset guidelines that allow many low income veterans and their dependents to become eligible for dental and optical assistance. Call your County Veterans Service Officer for an appointment. There are three separate dental assistance programs for Minnesota veterans and eligible dependents who meet the strict income and asset guidelines:

Routine Dental

Program will provide up to $1,500 per eligible person per year. This benefit covers basic and routine services, normal tooth extractions, crowns and bridges.

Extractions In Preparation for Dentures

Up to $2,500 is paid to dentists to prepare your mouth for dentures. Dentures: A One-time use (per lifetime) of up to $4,000 is paid to your dentist for an initial or replacement set of dentures.

Optical Assistance Benefit

Maximum benefit is $600 per eligible family member per year for an eye examination and/or prescription eye wear.

MN Veterans Homes

Minnesota Veterans Homes

Military Records

Discharge Certificates (DD-214)

Almost everything dealing with veteran benefits requires proof of military service. That proof is provided by the Active Duty Separation Document of Form DD-214. This is an important document and must be safeguarded. Older veterans may have documents with other nomenclature.

If you have a copy of your DD-214 it is recommended that it be recorded in your County Courthouse with the County Recorder, or at the very least, be sure to keep it in a safe place and inform a family member or trusted individual of its location. DD-214's are recorded as private - not public records!

If you do not have a copy, your CVSO can assist in obtaining your DD-214.

You may also request your DD-214 from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). There are 2 methods to request records from the NPRC; paper (SF-180), and electronically via EVetRecs. Your CVSO can assist you with both of these methods.

NOTE: There are resources on the internet that charge to get a copy of a DD-214. These sources have you sign a form to become a legal representative for you. The resources mentioned below are FREE of charge, including services of your local CVSO.