The following information is for veterans. Please contact our office for assistance with any questions or problems you may have.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Veterans Affairs is the federal agency that deals with veterans issues. The federal government defines a veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.” If you’re a veteran that needs healthcare, education/employment assistance, or memorial benefits—this is the organization that takes care of you. The VA Benefits Explorer is an online resource dedicated to helping veterans discover what benefits they’re eligible for within the VA. Other services include disability and pension compensation, life insurance, and survivor’s benefits.
The VA Health Benefits Explorer is an online resource that can help you understand which health benefits your eligible for. The explorer asks you a few questions about yourself and your service and matches the possible benefits based on your answers.
The VA Memorial Benefits Explorer maintains 135 national cemeteries nationwide that are available to qualifying veterans, depending on the nature of your service. There are additional benefits, like the service medallion, that all veterans can take advantage of. A veteran can also prequalify and set-up VA memorial benefits in the event of a veteran’s.
Veterans who have disabilities, medical conditions or injuries incurred or aggravated during active military service—no matter when or where they served—may be eligible to receive tax-free monthly benefits.
If you feel your discharge was unwarranted or incorrect, you can apply for your discharge to receive an upgrade. Typical reasons for a discharge upgrade include mental health conditions (post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or sexual assault/harassment) or sexual orientation (including under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy).
Several education benefits exist within the VA. The most-popular is the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, an adaptation of the former Montgomery G.I. Bill that applies to service members who signed up after September 11th, 2001. Depending on your qualifications, it can pay for 36 months (4 academic years) of college at any public institution or help pay for some of a private college’s tuition at qualifying schools (almost all qualify). In addition, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill provides stipends for books, lab fees, and a monthly housing allowance for veterans to use for living expenses. Other education benefits include the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Veterans Education and Assistance Program.
The VA can also help you with employment. Some of their services include helping you find a job, building a resume, and retraining. One program, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) or “Voc-Rehab,” is a benefit for disabled veterans who’s ability to gain meaningful employment is impacted by their disability. VR&E can provide funds to help you retrain for a new job that doesn’t aggravate your disability. The criteria can be strict but the benefits are great.
VA Home Loans are a benefit from the VA in which mortgages are partially guaranteed by the VA in order to gain the veteran a more favorable rate. VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders (banks, mortgage companies). They can be used on an initial loan, refinancing, and adapting a home for a service-connected disability.
A VA pension is a needs-based benefit for wartime Veterans with limited or no income who are age 65 or older or who have a permanent and total non-service-connected disability. Veterans who establish eligibility for a basic pension but are housebound or who require the aid and attendance of another person in order to perform activities of daily living, may qualify for pension at an increased rate (this is called “Special Monthly Pension”). The VA may also provide a pension to survivors, spouses, and dependents based on certain criteria.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal program from Housing and Urban Development that helps low-income families, the elderly, and disabled people afford clean and safe housing. To be eligible, a family’s income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area.
Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH)
The Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program combines the resources of HUD with the VA to help veterans with housing issues. It works within the Housing Choice Voucher Program and combines those services with VA social services.
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) can provide you a copy of your military records (including your DD-214). To request a copy, you’ll need to your name, service number, social security number, branch of service, dates of service, date and place of birth. You can also request the military records of someone else if you are their “next-of-kin” (widow, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, or sister). Let us know if you need help with your request!
The NPRC does not issue service medals; that is a function of each military service department. Requests for the issuance or replacement of military service medals, decorations and awards should be directed to the specific branch of the military in which the veteran served. If you would like your awards reissued, you can either use the page linked above or you can ask our office for help.
Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services
Massachusetts also provides a litany of benefits for veterans and active-duty service members. Some of the benefits include assistance with housing, advocacy, employment, and a bonus for eligible veterans.
Local Veteran Service Officer (VSO)
A Veteran Service Officer (VSO) is a person, usually accredited and commissioned by townships, that offers service and guidance free of charge to veterans to help them fully take advantage of the benefits they’re entitled to. An example of ways you might use a VSO would be to help you fill out a claim, showing you how to file an appeal, or assisting you with a Chapter 115 claim. Your local VSO can also help you with VA claims.
Mass Vets Advisor
The Mass Vets Advisor is an easy to use online resource created by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It combines federal, state, and non-profit resources into one explorer to help you find programs you might qualify for as a veteran.
Greater Boston Veterans Collaborative (GBVC)
The Greater Boston Veterans Collaborative works directly with agencies, employers, health care providers, and any other group that might deal with veterans to provide training and support via a collection of pooled resources from veteran service providers.
Greater Boston Coordinated Veterans Services
Greater Boston Coordinated Veterans Services is the area's first coordinated network of public, private and non-profit organizations working together to help veterans, service members and their families identify and access resources for housing, education, employment, benefits, legal services, spouse and family support, and opportunities for volunteering in the community.
Home Base Veteran and Family Care
Home Base is a Boston-based nonprofit that focuses on healthcare. They have a network that stretches nationwide and are based in Boston at Massachusetts General Hospital. Home Base focuses on clinical care, wellness, fitness, and training. Veterans and families alike can receive services from them and Home Base does not care about discharge status.
Veteran Legal Services (VLS)
Veteran Legal Services is a nonprofit organization that offers legal help to low-income veterans that live in Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, or Suffolk counties. VLS is a Boston-based service that can help with legal cases involving family issues, debt, immigration, social security, and veterans’ benefits.
Harvard Law School - Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic (HVLC)
The Harvard University Veterans Legal Clinic (HVLC) is a resource available for local veterans to receive assistance from law students at Harvard University. Some of the projects they are working on include the Veterans Justice Project, Estate Planning Project, and Safety Net Project. The clinic also can provide help with legal research, counseling, drafting documents, advocacy, negotiation, and representation.
Veterans History Project
The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress collects and preserves personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may access first-person accounts about their experiences and better understand the realities of war. The VHP accepts veterans' personal narratives in the forms of original, unedited audio- and video-recorded interviews, photographs, letters, diaries, journals, military documents, two-dimensional artwork, maps and unpublished memoirs that meet certain minimum requirements.
Congressman Kennedy is spreading the word about this great project and would like to give the veterans of the 4th District the opportunity to share their stories. If you are interested in learning more about the Veterans History Project and participating in this program through our office, please fill out the form below. A staffer will reach out to you as soon as possible.
Click here to learn more about the Veterans History Project sponsored by the US Library of Congress. If you need assistance with the Department of Veteran Affairs, please click here.