Operation Independence

Operation Independence is an awareness campaign to help Veterans understand and utilize their vehicle mobility benefits such as the auto allowance grant and the automobile adaptive equipment program. These benefits along with the assistance of a VMI Select Dealer can help a Veteran select and purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle that best fits their needs.

VMI is the premier manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans. VMI Select Dealers are experts in mobility assessment and customization. Together we have combined our knowledge with the Paralyzed Veterans of America to increase awareness with disabled Veterans regarding VA vehicle benefits, and help them get the benefits they have earned while serving our country.

Operation Independence helps Veterans get into their first wheelchair accessible van. VMI and our Select Dealer Network will give Veterans a $1000 rebate towards the van to be converted for wheelchair accessibility.

Veteran Vehicle Mobility Benefits
The Auto Allowance Grant: This program provides eligible Veterans with a federal grant of $18,900 towards the purchase of a wheelchair accessible vehicle. This grant is paid to the seller of the vehicle and must be approved by the VA before the purchase.

The Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program: This program provides eligible Veterans equipment and training to enter, exit and/or operate a motor vehicle. This equipment includes but not limited to platform wheelchair lifts, kneeling systems, power door openers, lowered floors/raised roofs, raised doors, hand controls and braking and digital driving systems.

Non Service Connected Van Modifications: This program provides eligible Veterans with non-operational equipment for entry and exit to the van. Issuance of equipment is considered medical and is not included as part of the Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program.

Veterans Administration

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides a broad spectrum of rehabilitative care to its beneficiaries, including a fairly wide array of prostheses, mobility devices such as wheelchairs, and adaptive driving equipment. In addition to coverage for veterans themselves, the VA provides needed healthcare benefits, including prosthetic devices, medical equipment, and supplies to certain children of Vietnam veterans (i.e., children suffering from spina bifida or an associated disability). Veterans may also receive VA healthcare benefits including prosthetics and medical equipment through participation in the VA’s vocational rehabilitation program. Veterans outside of the United States, with certain exceptions, are only eligible for prosthetics, medical equipment, and supplies for a service-connected disability.

In order to be eligible for enrollment for healthcare, you must have:

•been discharged from active military service under honorable conditions.
•served a minimum of two years if discharged after September 7, 1980 (prior to this date, there is no time limit).
•served as a National Guard member or reservist for the entire period for which you were called to active duty, other than for training purposes only.

VA healthcare enrollment is a new system providing access to a comprehensive package of services. If you want to use the VA healthcare system, you must fill out the VA form 10-10EZ unless:

•the VA rates you as having a service-connected disability of 50 percent or more.
•it has been less than one year since you were discharged from military service for a disability that the military determined was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, and have not yet been rated by VA.
•you are seeking care from VA for a service-connected disability only.

The 10-10EZ form may be obtained by visiting, calling, or writing any VA healthcare facility or veterans' benefits office, or by calling toll-free 877/222-8387 (877/222-VETS). You can also access the form on the Internet at www.va.gov/vaforms.

The form should be forwarded to your nearest VA healthcare facility for processing. Once you apply for enrollment and your application eligibility is verified, you will be assigned a priority group (ranging from 1 to 7, with 1 being the highest priority for enrollment) based on your specific eligibility status. Enrollment will be reviewed and renewed each year depending upon your priority group and available resources. If sufficient funding is not available for the VA to renew enrollment for your priority group for another year, you will be notified in writing before your enrollment period expires. Under the Uniform Benefits Package, the same services are generally available to all enrolled veterans, including treatment for both service-connected and non-service-connected disabilities.

Artificial limbs must be prescribed by a designated physician/podiatrist of the VA’s Amputee Clinic Team or the Prosthetic Representative. Devices may then be fabricated and fitted by VA hospitals or clinics, private prosthetic facilities on contract with the VA, or, under certain circumstances, by non-contract prosthetists. While the VA prefers that patients use either VA facilities or private facilities under contract with the VA, veterans who have previously received artificial limbs from commercial sources may continue to receive services from their non-contract prosthetist, providing the prosthetist will accept the VA preferred provider rate for the geographic area. Veterans may also receive services from non-contract vendors when a prescribed limb or component is not available through VA or contract facilities.

Recreational artificial limbs, which allow an amputee to participate in a specific recreational or athletic activity, may be provided. The following are general guidelines regarding the issue of recreational prosthetic appliances:

The physician or podiatrist of the Amputee Clinic Team must prescribe the prosthesis.
The prescription must indicate the therapeutic, rehabilitative, or psychological benefit to be expected or achieved through participation in this specialized activity. The prescription must indicate that a conventional prosthesis that is worn daily is unsuitable for use in the recreational activity, either because of environmental factors that would affect the prosthesis or because a specialized function not available in the conventional limb is required in the activity.
For more information, visit the VA Web site at www1.va.gov/health or call the VA Health Benefits Service Center toll-free at 877/222-8387 (877/222-VETS).