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VA and TRICARE are major health systems in which PTs and PTAs play a major role.

Currently serving and former members of the U.S. armed services are offered health care through an extensive system in which PTs and PTAs play a major role. That's why it's important to understand the two main providers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the Veterans Health Administration, which covers only veterans—those who once served in the military and no longer are in active duty or who are retired veterans who also meet certain eligibility and health criteria.

TRICARE is a civilian network administered by the U.S. Department of Defense that provides health care benefits to active-duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, and their families when services cannot be provided at a military treatment facility. When service members leave active duty, they're eligible for either VA or TRICARE coverage, depending on how they separated from military duty. TRICARE covers physical therapy when furnished by a PT, or PTA performing under the supervision of a TRICARE-authorized PT. 

PTAs were recognized as TRICARE-authorized providers as of April 16, 2020. See TRICARE's website for a description of covered services and providers.


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