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Veterans with Multiple Sclerosis

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While serving as an officer on the bridge of the USS Bonhomme Richard in 2009, Donnie Horner was diagnosed with MS.

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In this article


The National MS Society is collaborating with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs MS Centers of Excellence to support improved care and support services for veterans with multiple sclerosis and their families.

About the US Department of Veterans Affairs MS Centers of Excellence

In 2003 the Department of Veterans Affairs established the VA MS Centers of Excellence (MSCoE). The MSCoE utilize a network of regional programs, telemedicine and informatics to:
  • improve care for veterans with MS,
  • enhance MS education for patients, caregivers and providers
  • promote research into the causes and treatments for MS.
Learn more at the MSCoE website.

The MSCoE consist of coordinating centers in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR, for the western US, and in Baltimore, MD, for the eastern US, and approximately 70 regional MS programs distributed throughout the US. Find the nearest VA clinics and MS Centers of Excellence.

Are you eligible for VA benefits?

If you are a veteran diagnosed with MS within seven years of your separation from the military, the Veterans Health Administration could classify your illness as related to your military service and award you a “service-connected” disability.

You may still be eligible if you separated from the military more than seven years ago. You must have a diagnosis by a healthcare provider, preferably a neurologist, who directly links the symptoms you had during those seven years to your current diagnosis.  Some Veterans have had success by using a Nexus letter.

To find out if you are eligible, read the VA eligibility criteria or call the VA benefits line at 1-800-827-1000.


  • Disabled American Veterans
    Free assistance to veterans and their families in obtaining disability compensation benefits and services earned through military service and provided by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Dept. of Defense (DOD) and other government agencies.
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
    Veterans with MS often qualify for VA benefits and healthcare. PVA can help navigate the system and access benefits.

  • Wounded Warrior Project
    Provides unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.

  • Easter Seals
    From physical rehabilitation and job training to adapted recreation, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals.

Applying for VA benefits

Follow these steps to apply for benefits:
  • Keep a complete and ongoing journal of all your symptoms, noting dates, duration, severity, names of medical providers, and any witnesses who can attest to the limitations imposed by your MS. Keep questions for your healthcare providers in the same notebook and take it with you to all medical appointments.
  • Keep a complete and ongoing file of all your medical records. A crucial part of the application process is having a copy of your DD Form 214 and documentation of all your medical information to date. Be sure to include all non-military medical records as well. This information could help support a case for future rating increases.
  • Call your local Paralyzed Veterans of America service office a 1-800-424-8200 or another accredited veterans service organization to ensure you receive all your entitled VA benefits.

Support Available to Carepartners of Veterans with MS


  • MS World offers chat rooms led by volunteers with MS specifically for members of the Military and their families.

  • Visit MS World

By phone:

  • The Department of Veteran Affairs runs a monthly support and education conference call for care partners of Veterans with MS. Network, share experiences, learn about an educational topic, and hear about resources.

  • Visit the VA website


The National MS Society is Here to Help

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Our MS Navigators help identify solutions and provide access to the resources you are looking for. Call 1-800-344-4867 or contact us online.

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