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VALLEY FOCUS | Valleywide

Veterans' Health Care Is Not at Risk

October 01, 1998|HOLLY EDWARDS

It's been circulated on the Internet and in church newsletters, but the rumor that veterans must register at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital by today or lose their health-care benefits for life is false.

Since a private citizen posted the false information on the Internet in March, the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center has received more than 100 calls daily, said VA public affairs specialist Joe Davidson.

Davidson said he did not know the identity of the individual who posted the inaccurate information.

Nevertheless, the falsehood remains posted on the Internet and Davidson said it would be impossible for the VA to remove it.

"We don't have any control over that," he said. "The person who started this posted a retraction but by then hundreds of people had already seen it.

"It's been spreading by word of mouth ever since and has just been a big mushroom. But we've been trying to get the correct information out any way we can."

The VA has sent letters to all veterans currently using VA medical services and has posted facts about VA health benefits on its web site, located at www.va.gov/health/elig., he said. A federal law enacted in October 1996 required the VA to establish a new national enrollment system for health-care delivery by this month, Davidson said, but veterans can apply for health-care benefits at any time.

Veterans who received health care from the VA since October 1996 will have their health-care benefits applications automatically filed, he added.

For more information about applying for VA health benefits, call toll-free (877) 222-8387.

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