RI Veterans: Did You Know? – 29 APR 21 – by John A. Cianci

by John A Cianci, Department Veteran Service Officer, Italian American War Veterans

Question from previous special feature on Veterans Long Term Care Planning Options

3 of 5 Veterans Option – Remain Home

Veteran-Directed Care Allows Veteran To Remain Living at Home

Does the VA offer any assistance to a Veteran who is not eligible for Caregiver Program and wants to live at home; I’m a Desert Storm Veteran, however, served between May 28, 1975 and September 2001”.

  • Mike B (question from North Smithfield, RI)

Mike, the Veteran Administration has a few programs you are currently eligible for. One is the Veteran-Directed Care program, which can provide similar benefits like the VA caregiver program. This program the VA provides you a budget to manage your personal care needs to remain living at home.

Did you know?

In Mike’s case, he is currently not eligible for Veterans Administration Caregiver program until expansion of the program in October 2022.

However, Mike needs personal assistance to remain living at home like shopping, getting him to and from appointments, checking on him daily to ensure he is taking his medication, and other services needed to allow him to live independently at home and in his community.

With the Veteran-Directed Care program, Mike can hire his own personal care aides (which might include their own family member or neighbor). This aide could assist Mike in shopping and other services he needs.

To be eligible, the Veteran must be enrolled and using the VA Healthcare system. The Veteran Direct Care and IF they meet the clinical need for the service and it is available.

The Veteran does not have to be disabled and or collecting VA disability, however, he must be enrolled and using the VA Healthcare.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Veteran-Directed Care?

Veteran Directed Care gives Veterans of all ages the opportunity to receive the Home and Community Based Services they need in a consumer-directed way.

This program is for Veterans who need personal care services and help with activities of daily living. Examples include help with bathing, dressing, or fixing meals. This program is also for Veterans who are isolated, or their caregiver is experiencing burden.

Veterans in this program are given a budget for services that is managed by the Veteran or the Veteran’s representative. With the help of a counselor, Veterans hire their own workers to meet their daily needs to help them live at home or in their community.

Am I eligible for Veteran-Directed Care?

Since Veteran-Directed Care is part of the VHA Standard Medical Benefits Package, all enrolled Veterans are eligible IF they meet the clinical need for the service and it is available.

NOTE: This VA program is only available in certain locations.

A copay for Veteran-Directed Care services may be charged based on your VA service-connected disability status.

What services can I get?

As part of this program, Veterans and their caregiver have more access, choice and control over their home care services or long-term care services. For example, Veterans can:

·  Decide what mix of services will best meet their needs

·  Hire their own personal care aides (which might include their own family member or neighbor)

·  Buy items and services that will help them live independently in the community

How do I decide if it is right for me?

You can use a Veteran Decision Aid for Care at Home or in the Community to help you figure out what home care services or long-term care services may best meet your needs now or in the future.

There’s also a Caregiver Self- Assessment. It can help your caregiver identify their own needs and decide how much support they can offer to you. Having this information from your caregiver, along with the involvement of your care team and social worker, will help you reach short-term and long-term care decisions.

Ask your social worker for these resources or download copies from the Making Decisions and Advance Care Planning section at

If Veteran-Directed Care seems right for you, talk with your VA social worker and find out if it is available in your location.

How to apply for VA health care?

Option 1: Apply by phone

Call the VA toll-free hotline at 877-222-8387 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET to get help with your application.

Option 2: Apply by mail

Fill out an Application for Health Benefits (VA Form 10-10EZ), download VA Form 10-10EZ from

You or someone acting as your power of attorney must sign and date the form. And:

Send your completed application here:

Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Rd., Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30329

Option 3: Apply in person

Fill out an Application for Health Benefits (VA Form 10-10EZ).

You or someone acting as your power of attorney must sign and date the form. And:

If you’re using a power of attorney, you’ll need to submit a copy of the Power of Attorney form along with your application.

If you sign with an “X,” 2 people you know must witness your signature. They’ll also need to sign and print their names on the form.

Go to your nearest VA medical center or clinic. Bring a signed Application for Health Benefits (VA Form 10-10EZ) with you.

Option 4: Apply with the help of a trained professional

You can work with a trained professional called an accredited representative to get help applying for health care benefits.
For free assistance filing for VA healthcare, Italian American War Veterans, (401)677-9VET, email .

How do I prepare before I start my application?

Gather the information listed below that you’ll need to fill out an Application for Health Benefits (VA Form 10-10EZ)

You’ll need this information:

Social Security numbers for you, your spouse, and your qualified dependents

Your military discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents)

How long does it take VA to make a decision?

Less than 1 week

If more than a week has passed since you gave us your application and you haven’t heard back, please don’t apply again. Call the VA toll-free hotline at, 877-222-8387 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.

I’m an eligible Veteran, however, happy with my current healthcare provider and don’t want to use the VA healthcare system?

First, you will not be eligible for the program without be enrolled in the VA healthcare system. Even if you do want to use the VA healthcare system, I recommend you enroll, it helps all Veterans. Moreover, enrolling would make future needs of the VA more accessible for you—-when you might change your mind.

OK, I want to enroll and keep my current healthcare provider, so want do I need to do to be eligible for the program?

Follow the steps above to enroll.

At a minimum, schedule and report for an annual physical in the VA healthcare system. Yes, in my opinion, continue with your existing program, maybe schedule your annual physicals 6 months apart. Like getting a second opinion.

Additionally, you will be issued a Veterans Administration ID card, which will give your access to the military bases for shopping at the PX and commissary. And other benefits, like discounts at businesses like Apples and Denny’s by showing you are a Veteran.

More important, signing up helps ALL veterans; funding for local VA services is based on number of veterans utilizing your local VA. Don’t believe the “myth” I don’t want to take away from veterans who need it. Signing up is a way of assisting those Veterans who need it more than you do because your local VA will be receiving more funding because you are enrolled.


May12, 2021

Women Veterans Forum, 6pm

The Women Veterans Programs of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut invite all New England area women Veterans to participate in a Virtual town hall meeting.

Join us to discover what VA has to offer.

Share your feedback so we may better understand your needs and ensure timely, equitable, high-quality, comprehensive services in a safe and sensitive environment.

Registration is required to participate. 

To register, go to:

Attendees may register up until and after meeting start time.

May 3, 2021

Federal Hill Veteran Coffee House, sponsored by the Italian American war Veterans of Rhode Island. Join us at ROMA, 310 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI from 900am to 1100am, as Veterans connect by coffee, and Italian pastries. All Veterans and their guest are invited.

May 28-30, 2021

Friday – Sunday, May 28th – 30th, 8AM – 8PM, and Monday, May 31st, 8AM – 6PM

“The Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial”, Fort Adams State Park, Harrison Avenue, Newport.  Free admission for all.  Masks are required.  To become a sponsor of the memorial please visit


August 6, 2021

Rhode Island Army National Guard Summer Reunion, Quonset Officers Club, 200 LT James Brown Rd. N, Kingston, RI

It’s time to reunite with our RING Summer Reunion.  As of now the Quonset “O Club” must follow state guidelines regarding Covid-19 Pandemic. As a result, mask’s will be required by all and seating will be limited to eight per table.  With more people being vaccinated against Covid-19, I’m sure that the retirees will feel safe.  

Payment can be sent now. Cut-off date is Aug 3, 2021. Early responses would be greatly appreciated.  

A final headcount must be called in to the Officer’s Club four days prior, so “PLEASE” make payments early.

As always, spouses, friends, guest and significant others are always welcome. It’s an opportunity to reunite with friends whom we served with over the years.   

More information contact Bob Antonelli;

Have a question, upcoming event, or service being provided to veterans and their families, John can be contacted at (401) 677-4VET or email, . Events or meeting notices will be listed at the end of each column.


John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.