More than 31,000 disabled veterans received life insurance coverage through a new targeted federal program last year, a total that Veterans Affairs officials said underscores the interest in the offerings and the need for wider outreach on its availability.

The VALife program — open to veterans aged 80 and under with no disqualifications for medical reasons — was launched in January 2023 to expand available life insurance options for disabled veterans. It was the first new life insurance offering by the department in more than 50 years.

Congress mandated the new insurance program in 2022. Ahead of last year’s launch, VA officials said that more than 4 million individuals would be eligible for up to $40,000 in coverage through the new policies but did not know what the interest in the program would be.

Daniel Keenaghan, executive director of VA’s Insurance Service, said the department has been pleased by the response so far, with about 31,400 veterans signing up for $950 million in coverage last year alone.

“Having such a solid response demonstrates that we’re filling a gap veterans saw,” he said. “We have some testimonials from veterans … who see the coverage as a lifesaver, because they couldn’t get insurance through the private sector due to existing service-connected disabilities.”

Keenaghan said his office is now looking to further publicize the VALife program, based on a belief that many eligible veterans still do not know about the low-cost offering. The insurance policies have been included in outreach efforts over the last year, and officials said they regularly see sign-ups increase with each new round of distribution of information materials at large veterans events.

Keenaghan also said his office is looking at potential improvements in the future, to possibly include higher coverage totals and potential financial aid tied to the policies.

The department currently handles life insurance policies for roughly 5.6 million troops, veterans and family members, totaling $1.5 trillion of coverage. More information on all of the plans is available at the VA website.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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