Providence VA research on importance of disability benefits for qualifying veterans

Published by BARBARA MORSE


The idea for this research was born more than 20 years ago.


"And what happened in 2001 was that the VA decided that diabetes would be a condition connected to military service for Vietnam-era veterans who served with boots on the ground," said Dr. Amal Trivedi, a researcher at the Providence VA, and the lead author of this study, which is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


It did not, however, cover those who were not involved in active military service.


Out of 70,000 veterans, 14,000 qualified for this disability compensation.

"We followed them for about 17 years after that policy decision," said Trivedi. "We found a substantial reduction in hospitalizations. By the end of the study, there were about 21% fewer hospitalizations for those who became newly eligible for disability compensation compared to the control group of veterans who remained ineligible."


In Rhode Island, there are more than 27,000 veterans who receive disability compensation said E.J. McQuade, executive director of the Providence Regional VA Benefits Office.


Nationally, five million veterans receive these payments -- about $90 billion in spending.


"That would all be through a service-connected condition and whether that was incurred during service or aggravated through service," said McQuade.


"I mean it's a regular source of income. When I think about the patients I serve at the VA, a regular income could be the difference between having a stable source of housing or a regular source of food," added Trivedi....


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