It doesn’t matter if you’ve been out for years or are just now separating from the service, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a gift for you: the VA Welcome Kit. It’s something every veteran needs to have on hand for current information you need now or things that can come up over the years.

It’s all about your VA benefits and the services it offers for the veteran, families, survivors and caregivers. Each kit has over a dozen quick-start guides for a wide array of topics, including health services for women, accessing urgent care, mental health services, getting caregiver benefits, home loans, explanation of disability ratings, applying for burial in a VA cemetery and getting educational benefits. They give step-by-step instructions, as well as listing the documents you’ll need, links to specific web pages (put your cursor on one and click), telephone numbers and departments within the VA system.

Getting one of the kits is easy: Just download it (www.va.gov/welcome-kit) as a .PDF file either in black and white or color. If you only want one specific guide, scroll down the page and pick your topic. Further down are links to other topics such as housing assistance, careers, life insurance, pension and more.

I give this kit an A grade. The VA put a lot of thought into it, and it’s well done. Take a look. So far there have been over 1 million downloads. Suggestion: Print it out (42 pages) and put it in a folder so it’s handy.

As a final note: Are you still doing the full minute hand washing? Never mind the 20 second wash, go for the full minute. Keep your nails short and scrubbed. Wash often.

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