- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dear Sgt Shaft:

It is rumored that under special circumstances a veteran who receives health care from the VA under its CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs) health care program may apply for the military health services program (Tricare). I am an honorably discharged vet with a 100 percent service-connected “permanent rating.”

I’m interested in receiving services sponsored by the military rather than the VA system.

Note: I opted out of the Veteran’s Health Care System. Opting out was offered by VA. I still get health care from them though because of my service-connected disability status. I’ve heard that Tricare is for active servicemen and CHAMPVA is not available to them.

I’ve also heard that CHAMPVA and Tricare both may be available to disabled vets under special circumstances.

Even though the two health care systems are similar, Tricare would be better for me as I plan to move near a good military facility and no veterans medical facility is nearby. Under what special circumstances can this (non-military retired) 100 percent permanent vet receive Tricare?

Veteran (Army)
Via the Internet

Dear Army:

Those in the know tell me that Tricare is for active duty service members and their families, and also for military retirees and their families. To be eligible for CHAMPVA, you cannot be eligible for Tricare, and you must be in one of these categories:

1. The spouse or child of a veteran who has been rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability by a VA regional office.

2. The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who died from a VA-rated service connected disability.

3. The surviving spouse or child of a veteran who was at the time death rated permanently and totally disabled from a service connected disability.

4. The surviving spouse or child of a military member who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct (in most of these cases, these family members are eligible for Tricare, not CHAMPVA).

You are eligible for medical care through the VA — that is not the same as CHAMPVA. I know of no program where a disabled retiree can opt out of the VA Health Care System to use Tricare.

Shaft Notes:

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