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Aging Veterans


Assisting Aging Veterans to Find Needed Services 

ODVA is committed to honoring your legacy of service through our advocacy. However, we do not want to simply honor your sacrifice; we want to honor your sacrifice by connecting you and your family to advocacy and services for the rest of your lives.  

That advocacy begins with ensuring that you and your family know about the state and federal benefits and services you may be entitled to. Veteran benefits can positively impact you and your family's life — emotionally, financially and physically. 

Often veterans do not to seek veteran services because of a mistaken belief that if they access their benefits, they are taking benefits away from someone else who needs them more. But benefits are something you and every veteran have earned as a result of your military service. You are not taking resources or benefits away from any other fellow veteran.

We understand you may be reluctant to engage with ODVA or any other government entity due to prior experiences or denials.  We ask that you reconsider having someone review your potential claims because the types of benefits and eligibility rules may have changed considerably since your last attempt. Federal laws governing United States Department of Veterans' Affairs (USDVA or VA) issued benefits change continuously. You may now be eligible for benefits that you were denied in the past.

Explore Veteran Benefits with Accredited Advocates in Oregon Every 3-5 Years

There are numerous local, state and federal benefits and resources available for veterans and their dependents.  The average veteran or their family cannot be expected to know of all of the benefits and resources available to them or understand all of the laws governing those benefits.  Benefits and resources change or are added often so it is important to continue to stay connected to an advocate.  There is free help available from trained advocates in your local area to assist you with obtaining benefits and resources. 

Even if you currently receive VA benefits, you may still be eligible for additional benefits.  This could include an increase in your disability compensation due to the worsening of your service-connected conditions or could include Special Monthly Compensation if you require the aid and attendance of others due to your service-connected disability.  There are lesser-known ancillary benefits through the USDVA, such as allowances for clothing or adaptive equipment. 

Lastly, we encourage you to consistently check-in on your benefits every 3-5 years, as benefits and the laws governing them, change.  New conditions are often added and changes in how conditions are evaluated occur.  Further, significant changes in your disabilities or circumstances should prompt you to meet with a trained advocate so that they can assist you in assessing for additional claims and benefits.

Find a Veteran Service Office in Oregon

There is access to Veteran Service Officers in every Oregon county, Tribal Veteran Service Officers or Tribal Veteran Representatives in six Oregon tribal nations, national veteran service organizations, and advocates at multiple college campuses throughout our state ready to help you. These services are all provided free of charge.

Learn more:

Special Advocacy

ODVA provides special advocacy in the form of positions dedicated to advocacy and expertise for several traditionally underserved veteran populations to include the following: Justice Involved Veteran Coordinators, Women Veterans Coordinator, LGBTQIA+ Coordinator, Houseless Veterans Coordinator, Veteran Volunteer Program Coordinator and Aging Veteran Outreach Specialist.  If you identify with one of these populations or would like to connect with someone who specializes in working with these populations, please reach out to ODVA.

Learn more:  

ODVA Trained Veteran Volunteers

If you have questions, need additional information about benefits, resources or services for aging veterans and their families, or just don't know where to start, you may choose to connect with a trained ODVA Veteran Volunteer.  Veteran Volunteers will connect you with the County or Tribal Veteran Service Officer and local resources and services closest to you.

Learn More:
ODVA Veteran Volunteer Program at 1-833-604-0885 or  

Connect with Care - USDVA Healthcare

Veterans can benefit from connecting with care.  Whether for physical or emotional care needs, the VA is continuing to improve care for all veterans. 

Enroll And Establish Care In VA Healthcare

When you apply for VA health care, you'll be assigned 1 of 8 priority groups.  Priority groups help the VA determine which veterans will be seen first and what, if any, their co-pays for care will be.  Veterans who served in the Republic of between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, are immediately eligible for Priority Group 6. However, veterans will be assigned to the highest priority group that their eligibility status qualifies them for, depending on factors such as VA-rated service-connected disability rating  Be sure to see your VA Primary Care Provider yearly, at a minimum. Even if you have private medical insurance, you can still utilize VA healthcare benefits. You may have been told that you were ineligible for VA healthcare benefits in the past, because you were over the applicable income thresholds, but you should consider reapplying for VA healthcare as you move into retirement and may be on a reduced and/or fixed income.  

Enroll in VA Healthcare:

Military Service Changes You

Many would argue that service changed the lives of veterans more, and different than other groups of civilian experience. From the effects of a draft to the effects of combat, and the effects of failed support upon your return home, military service has likely impacted you either physically, emotionally, or financially — or possibly, in all of these ways. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The USDVA provides disability compensation benefits and mental health services for those veterans who suffer from symptoms related to a traumatic event or experience while in service, also known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

USDVA's Make the Connection site states that “some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include recurring memories or nightmares of the event, sleeplessness, loss of interest, and feelings of numbness, anger or irritability, or being constantly on guard, but there are many ways PTSD can impact your everyday life. Sometimes these symptoms don't surface for months or even years after the event occurred or after returning from deployment. They may also come and go. If these problems persist or they're disrupting your daily life, you may have PTSD." 

If you experience or have continued to experience symptoms like these, you are not alone.  Connect with care either through the USDVA or with your own provider.  There is help available and treatments that work.

Learn more about PTSD:
Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) refers to sexual harassment or sexual assault that occurs during military service.  MST is another form of trauma that a veteran may experience while in service. MST can happen to anyone during their service regardless of age, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, race, or nationality. MST can have negative impacts on a survivor's mental and physical health, even many years after service.  If you are a survivor of MST please connect with your local VSO for support and benefit options.

For more information about MST, treatment, resources and how to connect with the USDVA:    
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Sadly, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) wasn't as well known or understood for veterans as it has been for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  Our understanding of the long-term effects of exposure to explosions has been expanded in these newer conflicts, some of which are the result of studies conducted on veterans who experienced these types of combat injuries.  What we know now is that TBI symptoms can be mistaken for behavioral problems or mental health conditions.  Our concern is that there are veterans who were treated with discipline or discharge when they were suffering from TBI-related issues that should have been treated medically.  The USDVA does provide physical and/or mental health care as well as disability compensation benefits for veterans experiencing TBI as a result of their military service.

Learn more about TBI:
Impact of Service on Your Health

Service and its resulting impacts on veterans' health cannot be overstated.  There are numerous health risks for veterans associated with their  War service including diseases related to Agent Orange exposure, Hepatitis C, hearing problems like hearing loss and tinnitus related to noise exposures, heat/cold injuries, and so forth.

Veterans who served for any length of time between 1/9/62 and 5/7/75, in at least one of the following locations are presumed to have had exposure to Agent Orange and may be eligible for health care and disability compensation benefits for those specific diseases recognized by the USDVA, to be the result of Agent Orange exposure:

  • In the Republic of, or
  • Aboard a U.S. military vessel that operated in the inland waterways of, or
  • On a vessel operating not more than 12-nautical miles seaward from the demarcation line of the waters of Cambodia, or
  • On regular perimeter duty on the fenced-in perimeters of a U.S. Army installation in Thailand or a Royal Thai Air Force base. These bases include U-Tapao, Ubon, Nakhon Phanom, Udorn, Takhli, Korat, or Don Muang.
Learn more about  veteran health related issues:
Agent Orange and the New Blue Water Navy Act

There are additional duties and locations for which veterans may have served that are also presumed to have resulted in Agent Orange exposure.  Recently, the USDVA added three additional conditions that are presumed to be the result of Agent Orange exposure for those specified veterans.  The newest presumptive conditions now recognized by the USDVA are Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism. 

The Blue Water Navy  Veterans Act of 2019, extends the presumption of Agent Orange exposure to veterans who served as far as 12-nautical miles from the shore of, or who had served in the Korean Demilitarized Zone and as such, those veterans may be entitled to service connection for any of the 14-conditions recognized as being related to herbicide exposure.  The USDVA has also extended benefits to children with spina bifida (non-occulta) for whose parents are now recognized as 'Blue Water Navy' veterans.

Learn more about Blue Water Navy:

The USDVA also offers a free comprehensive Agent Orange Registry Health Exam for eligible veterans that includes an exposure and medical history component, physical exam and tests if needed.  Other detailed information about  veterans and Agent Orange exposure, and a complete list of the diseases and conditions presumed to be the result of Agent Orange exposure for veterans having served during the specified timeframes and in the specified locations can be found at the resources below.

Learn more Agent Orange :     
Hazardous Material Exposure

Contact with harmful chemicals or other hazardous materials like asbestos or contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune during specified periods, while serving in the military, may also be related to other diseases, illnesses, and conditions impacting veterans.  Simply serving in the military continuously for at least 90 days, means you are approximately twice as likely to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as those who have not served.  If you served continuously for at least 90 days and have been diagnosed with ALS after being discharged, it is presumed to be related to your military service.  You could receive USDVA healthcare and disability compensation for this service-connected condition.

Learn more about Hazardous Material Exposure:

Other than Honorable Discharge Due to Undiagnosed Mental Health Conditions or that Are Sexual Orientation-Related

Other than Honorable discharges were utilized in a number of harmful ways when it comes to  Veterans.  Those who suffered from undiagnosed TBI and mental health conditions such as PTSD or depression, following their combat service in, were often victims of discharges characterized as other than honorable. These veterans were seen by some as having troublesome behavior or misconduct problems, or substance use disorders, that were considered the fault of the veteran and not the fault of traumatic combat experiences. 

Veterans who identified as LGBTQ+ were also victims or discriminatory policies and many also received less than honorable discharges. In some cases, LGBTQ+ Veterans received an honorable discharge while receiving homosexual narratives in their DD214 discharge narratives.

These types of discharges resulted in many of our most vulnerable veterans having no access to critical support, services, and healthcare at the time they needed it most.  Compounded by the lack of homecoming support upon their return, many veterans isolated from their loved ones, self-medicated with substance use, entered cycles of houselessness, died by suicide, or have suffered in silence for all of these years.  Slowly, we are learning about how military service changes people and that these changes are not always reflective of what is considered 'honorable' military conduct.

If you have a discharge that is characterized as other than honorable, and you suffer/suffered from the effects of TBI, PTSD, MST, or LGBTQ+ related issues ODVA may be able to assist you in obtaining USDVA benefits and/or upgrading your discharge:

Learn More:

Our Health Changes Through the Ages

We all know that there are some health changes that are inevitable as we age.  We can't stop aging but we can improve how we age.  The USDVA has multiple programs that support aging veterans in their health, fitness and rehabilitation.

Learn more:
Some Health Conditions Worsen As We Age 

An injury or condition that may have seemed insignificant when you were in service or when you first got out of service but has persisted continuously over time and/or has gotten worse as you've aged, maybe a compensable condition for USDVA purposes.  For those health conditions that are service-connected, this may mean that you are entitled to an increased rating or should file new claims for service connection for new conditions that are created as a result of your original disabilities or are the result of medications used to treat your service-connected disabilities.  It is important to know that the USDVA and other organizations continue to conduct research on issues related to veterans, their health, and how we age, and because of this, new conditions are being added to lists of conditions presumed to be the result of military service, so it is critical that aging veterans remain connected to their veteran advocates and benefits.

Retirement is generally one of the milestones of aging that many veterans look forward to.  The thought of no longer having to go to work every day and having more time to do the things we enjoy is exciting.  Often, what we don't think about when we think about retirement is the difficulty that the transition away from work and our co-workers may bring.  Most feel some loss of purpose and a sense of loneliness when they are no longer a part of the mission they devoted so much to, but there are a lot of different ways to continue to serve your community, loved ones and enjoy the freedom that aging and retirement offers.

Learn more:

For more information: Benefits & Programs: Long-Term Care

Resources and Information

Explore below for more information about the needs of the aging veteran population and the resources available to you.

Aging Veteran Statistics

​In July 2017, the federal VA released its profile of Vietnam veterans, which analyzed age, gender, race, economic, household and other considerations and compared these data to the civilian population. The report is not specific to Oregon, but Vietnam veterans are our state's largest single demographic.

Key findings:

  • There are estimated 6.4 million Vietnam veterans in the United States. Ages range from 55 to 97 (born between 1918 and 1950). The median age is 68.
  • Vietnam veterans are overwhelmingly male (97 percent), while women form the majority of the non-veteran population (64 percent).
  • Relative to the non-veteran population, more Vietnam veterans are married (69.4 percent compared to 57 percent), and fewer are widowed (6.6 percent compared to 16.7).
  • A third of Vietnam veterans are more than 70 percent disabled, though their disabilities are not all necessarily service-connected.
  • Vietnam veterans are slightly less likely to be living in poverty than the non-veteran population. They are also much less likely to use food stamps.
  • Almost 80 percent of Vietnam veterans receive health care from the federal VA, and over half receive disability compensation.

Read the report here​.

Long Term Care

In Oregon, a conservator is appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and property of someone who is not able to do so alone. A conservator can be an individual, a public official or an institution.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Conservatorship Program serves veterans and their surviving spouses, their immediate family members, minor children and helpless adult children of veterans, and dependents’ parents.

ODVA’s trust officers are experts in USDVA law and regulation, and work closely with interested family members when planning for the welfare and best interest of the veteran, their spouse or dependent.

When is a conservator needed?

When an individual has a substantial amount of income, assets or property and is unable to manage his or her finances well enough to provide adequate care themselves, a conservator may be needed. This may be due to mental illness or deficiency, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs or controlled substances, disappearance or confinement, chronic intoxication, or because the individual is a minor.

Other reasons a conservator may be needed is if an individual is using income and assets to his or her own detriment or if they are being taken advantage of financially by another person.

What does a conservator do?

A conservator administers the financial estate of a protected person according to provisions of Oregon Revised Statutes, Title 13, Chapter 125. A conservator gains possession of all income and assets and establishes a personal budget and pays for care, personal needs, dependent support, property maintenance, etc., according to that budget.  A conservator applies for all benefits for which the protected person may be eligible and invests or otherwise conserves unused funds.

An accounting of financial activities is submitted to the court, USDVA, protected persons and others as required by law.

How much control does the conservator have over the protected person’s life?

A conservator assumes all responsibility for the financial affairs of the protected person's estate. They are not directly responsible for the personal affairs of the person, although the income and assets available may limit the individual’s lifestyle.

Why use ODVA's program?

ODVA’s trust officers have an extensive knowledge of USDVA laws and regulations. They have a network of contacts with information about Social Security, Medicare, public assistance, special senior citizen, disabled and low income programs. They investigate income sources the protected person may be eligible for and work closely with family and interested persons when planning for the welfare of the protected person.

Oregon law (ORS 406.050) gives the director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs the authority to act, without bond, as conservator of the estate of a person who qualifies for benefits from the USDVA.

Starting a conservatorship

A petition asking for the appointment of a conservator may be submitted to a court by anyone interested in the estate, affairs or welfare of the person.  This includes parents, guardian, custodians or any person who would be adversely affected by lack of effective management of the property or affairs.  The court appoints a conservator and the order remains in effect until the person’s condition improves, majority is reached or until death.

What fees are charged?

A seven percent fee on all income under management may be charged for ordinary conservatorship services.  Additional fees may be charged for unusual services provided.  ODVA’s rate is significantly less than that of private conservatorship services.  Fees may also be waived in individual cases if circumstances warrant such action.

For more information: Call ODVA at 503-373-2085 or toll-free at 1-800-692-9666. TDD: 503-373-2217.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs also offers Representative Payee Services for veteran clients and their dependents. As a representative payee, ODVA acts in a limited capacity to pay bills on behalf of their clients.

Representative Payee Services assists beneficiaries in need of help with money management to ensure their income is used for their personal care and well-being. The goal is to help veterans live productive lives. This usually involves paying for their housing, care and utilities and providing allowances for food, transportation, clothing, medications and other expenses.

ODVA Representative Payee Services adhere to the guidelines provided by the USDVA, the SSA and the CFPB. Payee duties also may include monitoring personal accounts for resource limitations, providing reports to beneficiaries, the USDVA and SSA, and advocating for beneficiaries to maintain, protect and investigate benefits that may be available to them.

Other functions may include: working one-on-one with beneficiaries; assessing monthly income and expenses; establishing a monthly budget; payment of monthly living expenses; establishing debt payment plans; providing personal expense money; learning to prioritize needs vs. wants; and establishing financial goals for savings.

For more information: Call ODVA at 503-373-2085 or toll-free at 1-800-692-9666. TDD: 503-373-2217.

Oregon has two Veterans’ Homes, located in The Dalles and Lebanon. Owned and operated by ODVA, these homes provide long-term health care in an environment that understands the unique needs of the men and women who served our country in uniform.

Care at an Oregon Veterans’ Home is an earned benefit available to honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and parents who had a child die while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

For more information: Oregon Veterans' Homes

​The health care needs of the aging veteran population are unique and complex. The federal VA health care system has dedicated resources to serve the needs of this growing population of veterans. These services can be provided in your home, at a VA medical facility or in your community, depending on your situation and needs.

​For more information: Federal VA: Geriatrics and Extended Care


​This benefit provides supplemental income to help veterans and their families cope with challenges arising from homelessness and other financial crises. The amount paid is set by federal law and varies based on your net worth and the amount you and your dependents receive from other sources.

For more information: Federal VA: Veterans Pension

Veterans and survivors who qualify for a federal VA pension due to financial circumstances may be eligible for additional compensation if you require the aid and attendance of another person. This tax-free supplement to the monthly pension is commonly called A&A. 

You or your deceased spouse must meet the federal VA’s service, age, disability and income requirements for Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension to be eligible for A&A.

Since the A&A provision increases the income allowance, you may be eligible for a supplemented pension even if your income is too high for a basic pension. However, you must still meet the applicable service and age or disability requirements.

For more information: Federal VA: Aid & Attendance and Housebound

Veterans and survivors who qualify for a federal VA pension due to financial circumstances may be eligible for additional compensation if you are housebound, meaning confined to your home because of permanent disability. 

You or your deceased spouse must meet the federal VA’s service, age, disability and income requirements for veterans pension or survivors pension to be eligible for this additional tax-free monthly compensation.

Since the housebound provision increases the income allowance, you may be eligible for a supplemented pension even if your income is too high for a basic pension. However, you must still meet the applicable service and age or disability requirements.

Those who qualify for a pension may also be eligible for additional compensation due to needing the aid and attendance (A&A) of another person, which is based on different criteria. However, you cannot receive both A&A and Housebound benefits at the same time.

How to apply

The federal VA requires you to submit evidence in support of your request for an increased monthly pension, preferably a report from your attending physician validating the need for housebound care.

For more information: Federal VA: Aid & Attendance and Housebound


Families of eligible deceased veterans may receive a burial allowance from the federal VA to help cover the cost of burial and funeral expenses. These are paid at a flat rate, and the amount depends on certain factors, including whether your loved one's death was considered service-connected or not, or if he or she was being hospitalized by the VA at the time of death.

Reimbursements are generally categorized as two types of payments: burial (or cremation) and funeral expense allowance, and plot interment allowance.

To file for reimbursement of burial expenses, an Application of Burial Allowance form must be submitted to the federal VA. You must also provide a certified copy of the veteran’s death certificate and proof of the veteran’s military service (Form DD 214), as well as itemized invoices or receipts of the funeral and burial expenses.

For more information: Federal VA: Burial Benefits​

If you or your loved one served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces, the federal VA will furnish, at no cost, a United States flag for funeral and memorialization purposes. The flag is provided to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran during funeral services, after which it may be kept or donated by the veteran’s next of kin.

All veterans who received an honorable discharge from their military service are eligible to receive a burial flag at no cost. Veterans who received any discharge other than dishonorable may also qualify if the nature of their service meets certain conditions.

How to obtain a burial flag:

When burial is in a national, state or post cemetery, a burial flag will automatically be provided by the facility. When burial is in a private cemetery, the funeral director will help you with the process of applying for and obtaining a burial flag from the closest issuing point (typically, a U.S. post office).

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Burial Flags

For Veterans Buried in Private Cemeteries

The federal VA will provide a headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of his or her date of death.

For veterans whose graves are already marked, the VA may also provide a headstone to supplement the existing marker or a bronze medallion (see below) to be affixed to the privately purchased headstone. The veteran must have died on or after Nov. 1, 1990, to be eligible.

The headstone or marker is provided by the VA at no charge, but the arrangements and any fees associated with placing it in a private cemetery will be the responsibility of the applicant.

For Veterans Buried in National, State or Military Cemeteries

When a veteran, spouse or dependent is buried in a national, state or military cemetery, a headstone or marker will be provided by cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.

Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national, state or military cemetery.

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Headstones, Markers, and Medallions

If your loved one is interred with a non-government headstone, you can still memorialize their military service with a bronze medallion. These are provided, upon request, by the federal VA to be affixed to an existing privately purchased headstone or marker to signify your loved one's status as a veteran.

If requested, the medallion is furnished in lieu of — but not in addition to — a traditional government headstone or marker for veterans that died on or after Nov. 1, 1990, and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Headstones, Markers and Medallions

Military veterans have the option to be buried at sea. These ceremonies are performed aboard U.S. Navy vessels while the ship is deployed and, because of this, family members are not allowed to be present. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will notify the family of the date, time, and longitude and latitude once the committal service has been completed.

For the purposes of the ceremony, the deceased veteran’s remains can be housed either in a traditional funeral casket or in a cremation urn or temporary container. A burial flag is required for all committal services performed aboard U.S. Naval vessels, regardless of the type of container used.


Those eligible for burial at sea include active duty members of the uniformed services (regardless of branch); retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged; U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command; and dependent family members of active duty personnel, military retirees, or veterans.

How to apply

The federal VA National Cemetery Administration does not handle applications for burial at sea. Requests must be submitted directly to the U.S. Navy Mortuary Branch.

For more information: U.S. Navy Mortuary Services

Eligible veterans are entitled, by law, to dignified military funeral honors in recognition of their service to their country. These ceremonies are provided free of charge and include, at a minimum, the presence of no less than two uniformed service members folding and presenting the United States flag to the next of kin and the playing of "Taps."


Those eligible for military funeral honors include any active duty or Selected Reserve service members, as well as any veterans who served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. More information about eligibility can be found on the Military Funeral Honors website.

How to apply

To request military funeral honors, contact your local funeral director, who will then contact the appropriate military service to arrange for the funeral honors detail.

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Military Funeral Honors

Certain veterans buried in a national cemetery may also be eligible to have, upon a request, a Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) presented to their next of kin. A PMC is an engraved paper certificate, bearing the signature of the current president of the United States, expressing the country's grateful recognition of the departed veteran's service to the country.

For more information: National Cemetery Administration: Headstones, Markers and Medallions

National Resource Directory

Resource website that connects wounded warriors,service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers to programs and services that support them.

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Did you know?

According to the 2012 U.S. Census brief, veterans age 65 or older numbered in excess of 12.4 million.
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