More than 550,000 veterans live in Illinois, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census. That’s a lot of people who could benefit from programs specifically for veterans. Yet, many are unaware of the available benefits, says Jay Latona, chief of the Specially Adapted Housing program for the Veterans Benefits Administration.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) oversees a multitude of benefits for veterans, including housing, education, and healthcare.
“We try to meet every need [veterans] have in every facet of their life, if it all possible,” Latona says. Having served for eight years in the Marine Corps, he knows many of those needs firsthand.
Chicago veterans can learn about the full breadth of benefits at VA.gov and apply through an eBenefits account. Organizations including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wounded Warrior Program, and Paralyzed Veterans of America are able to submit paperwork on a veteran’s behalf.
The VA offers veterans four different types of home loans. Injured veterans are also eligible for Specially Adapted Housing grants, with up to $100,000 to adapt a home to their needs.
Veterans have a full suite of customized healthcare plans available through the VA. Family members and caregivers of veterans may also qualify.
The GI Bill, enacted in 1944, covers some or all of the costs a veteran incurs for college, graduate school, or specialty training programs.
Anyone caring for an injured or disabled veteran may be eligible for monetary compensation through the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
The Veteran Readiness and Employment program helps veterans with service-connected disabilities to train for and find jobs.
The VA offers medication, counseling, and therapy options for veterans struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.
Veterans Crisis Line
Veterans in crisis (or anyone who knows one) can connect with the national Veterans Crisis Line 24/7, via web chat, text, or phone by dialing 988 and pressing 1.
To learn more about veterans’ benefits, visit
VA.gov or call 800-698-2411.