There is a distinction between the two, which many veterans are not aware of. It is important to note that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is actually three separate organizations; VA Health Care (VHA), VA Benefits (VBA), and VA National Cemeteries. For purposes of this discussion, I will touch on the differences between the VBA and VHA. Invariably, veterans will engage with both. It is helpful to bear in mind at the outset that these two entities of the VA do not necessarily communicate with each other. Veterans often find themselves making copies and hand delivering these documents between the two (VHA and VBA), which at times, can be very frustrating. It is, however, necessary.
Plainly stated, the difference between the two entities is simple; VBA provides the financial assistance a veteran needs, whereas the VHA provides the veteran with health care. The VBA component of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for administering programs that give financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans, their dependents, and survivors. Their mission is to provide benefits and services to the veterans and their families in a responsive, timely, and compassionate way in recognition of their service to our country. Programs administered by the VBA include; Compensation and Pension Service (C&P), Education Programs, Insurance Programs, Loan Guaranty, and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment.
- C&P Programs provide direct payments to veterans, dependents, and survivors as a result of his/her service connected disability, or because of financial need.
- Education Programs provide resources to veterans to help with readjustment and restore educational opportunities lost due to their service, and also extend benefits of higher education to qualified veterans who may not otherwise be able to afford it.
- Insurance Programs are available to veterans, such as life insurance at a standard premium rate, particularly to veterans exposed to extra hazards of military service.
- Loan Guaranty provides is provided to veterans, certain spouses, and service members that enable them to buy and keep homes.
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment assists veterans with service-connected disabilities that they might find and keep suitable jobs. For veterans with service-connected disabilities so severe that they are unable to work, this program helps them to improve their ability to live as independently as possible.
The VHA mission is to honor veterans and their families by administering health benefits, and deliver world-class administration to every veteran. VHA is home to the largest integrated health care system consisting of 150 medical centers and nearly 1,400 community based outpatient clinics. Together, these health care facilities provide comprehensive care to more than 8.3 million veterans each year. Most assuredly, there are instances when VHA and VBA come together, and this occurs when a veteran requests a C&P (Compensation and Pension) exam. When this occurs, the application goes to VBA, at which time they will schedule an exam at a VAMC. When the exam is complete, the results will be sent to VBA for review. If the veteran had care at any other VAMC or a non-VA provider, he/she can sign an ROI (Release of Information), which permits the provider to send records directly to VBA.