Busting Myths About VA Health Care Eligibility



Rumor mills are permanent fixtures in schools, offices and wherever people congregate, and most of the time they’re pretty innocuous.  But myths and rumors that deal with health–in this case Veterans health–are a serious matter that can prevent qualified Vets from seeking the care they both need and deserve.  Many have come up in the comments section, and others I hear from the guys in my old unit.  The myths won’t die unless they are addressed publicly and clearly, so we present you with the most common we hear, and the straightforward answers they need.

Five Myths About VA Health Care Eligibility

Myth Number One

I wasn’t injured in the service, so I’m not eligible for VA health care.

Status: False

One of the most common myths revolves around eligibility for health care at VA.  Many think that you have to first establish a disability rating before you can start to make appointments, see doctors and receive medication.  That is not the case.  If you served in the military, even during peace time, and were honorably discharged, you likely qualify for VA care.  Even if you don’t meet those requirements, special circumstances might apply, like Vietnam service, exposure to Agent Orange and household income.  The best way to find out if you qualify is to submit an application for health benefits.  You can fill one out online or at a VA Medical Center.  If you are an Iraq or Afghanistan Veteran, there are special combat Veteran benefits from VA, like temporary access to dental care and guaranteed access to Priority 6 for five years (unless you are eligible for a higher priority group).  See the priority enrollment groups here.

Also, if new regulations are established regarding health benefits, VA will automatically reassess your case if it’s on file.

Myth Number Two

I can only receive care for service connected injuries.

Status: False

You can receive VA hospital and outpatient care for any ailment, service connected or not if you are enrolled in the VA healthcare system, but you may have to pay a copayment.  For example, if a Veteran is service-connected for a bad knee, any VA hospital and outpatient care and medication for the knee is free of charge. However, if the same Vet goes into surgery to remove an appendix and it’s not service connected, he may be subject to a co-pay depending on the amount of his disability rating and other factors.  Familiarize yourself with co-pay guidelines and rates.

A small number of Veterans, such as those with bad conduct discharges that VA has determined were issued under conditions other than honorable and who are not subject to certain statutory bars to benefits, can only be treated for their service connected disabilities and nothing else.  If one of those Vets is service connected for their left foot, they can only use VA health care for their left foot and nothing else.

Myth Number Three

I make too much money to qualify for VA health care.

Status: It depends

If you do not have a service connected disability, you may want to use VA’s financial calculator to see if you qualify for free VA care, medication and travel benefits.  If your income is too high (over a maximum income level set every year), you may have to pick up the tab for traveling and receive your care and medication by paying a co-pay.  Recently, the rules have been changed for Priority 8 Veterans to permit more of them to enroll for VA health care.  Go here for more information and an income calculator to see if you qualify under the new rules.

Myth Number Four

I can’t use VA health care if I have private health insurance.

Status: False

From VA’s Health Eligibility Center Director Tony Guagliardo:

“We strongly encourage Veterans to receive all your health care through VA.   However, if you choose to receive treatment from private doctors, VA will work with them to meet your health care needs and coordinate effective treatment.  We call this Co-managed Care or Dual Care — which means that your VA and private doctors will work together to provide safe, appropriate, and ethical medical care.”

Myth Number Five

If I’m 100 percent disabled, that means I’m permanently disabled

Status: False

You could have a 100 percent disability rating as a temporary status while you undergo surgery, and have it reduced to its previous rating after you heal.  100 percent doesn’t necessarily stay with you.

**

My hope is that this information sheds a little light on the sometimes confusing realm of VA medical care.  These myths and answers are very general, but we hope to receive more specific questions in the comment section. We look forward to dispelling myths about other parts of VA as well.

(Author’s note: If you’ve noticed changes to this entry, I revised a couple of things to clarify and expand on the original piece on November 22, 2010 at 9:42 PM ET.)

Author

Alex Horton

Comments

  1. Norman Peacock    

    I have only received the best of care from the Doctors and staff at Daytona Beach and at Orlando.No complaints of any kind.

    1. Richard Lancaster    

      Good for you However Comments like this actually do more harm than good. I am glad you had a good time but for every time your enjoyed yourself there were 25 other Vet’s that didn’t and it is their stories that need to be heard not ones like yours. I went to the Emergency room at my VA Hospital only to sit for 3 hours without seeing a trauma nurse and when I did she told me “Oh these are Just Veterans there not like other people” meaning that we are lower than welfare recipients and don’t deserve to be treated any better than a dog. Again I am glad you had fun but next time ask around before you make a comment about how great it is, you may wish to write a new comment about how bad your fellow vets have it. PS I like my Dr.s and Nurses too but I hate the UNION Members that make up the sorry excuse’s for staff. As long as there is a Union at the Jackson Ms VA there will never be good service to our vets there other than from the non-union Dr’s and Nurses.

      1. Richard    

        Maybe you don’t realize this, but most of the staff at a VA medical center are veterans. And the union is, more than anything, for settling issues between staff and management. The staff you are railing about is, by and large, your brothers and sisters in arms.

        1. Richard C    

          Richard’s response that “most of the staff at a VA medical center are veterans” is simply non-sense. And he knows better.
          I agree with Richard Lancaster. I have found the care at the Minneapolis VA to be terrible, as have a number of people I have talked with. I have to depend on the VA system, private insurance companies won’t write a policy on me. I drive to the Madison, WI VA for care; 5 hours each way. That facility has been far superior. It’s also expensive, and tells me it’s a matter of management at each facility. I’ve also heard that Albuquerque is to be avoided, while Tampa and San Diego have had good ratings. It’s too bad the VA can’t do a better job of hiring administrators and oversight. It stinks. I can tell you stories of my own experiences and you would think I was making them up. But they are true. Minneapolis, in my opinion and based on experience is to be avoided.

        2. daniel garant    

          philly sucks, THEY ARE SO BADDDDDDDDDDDDDD I HATE LIVING HERE HATE PHILLY VA

        3. Robert F    

          I completely agree about the VA in Albuquerque. I’ve been there several times and the staff (nurses) in the pain clinic are snotty and my Dr. won’t even help me get to see an orthopedic Dr to go over my MRI. What a joke this place is so far. I was at the Spokane VA till Jan 2010 and though that place had some shortcomings I was treated much more fairly and the staff (Dr’s) at least made it seem like they cared about your health. I’m thinking about going around the patient’s advocate and straight to my congressman about the crappie care. Any input about that. Thanks Robert

        4. Lillian Ching    

          Don’t think you are going to get good treatment at Seattle either – my hubby has Agent Orange issues and PTSD – at one appointment he was being counseled by the receptionist because the doctor kept saying his diabetes was not Agent Orange related -because he put in a claim, he is now being treated like poison. Terrible waiting, terrible treatment. A disgrace to our nation.

        5. Tell    

          Who can we complain to? Noone!?
          Seems VA workers are too busy protecting each other and when having conflicts with female workers that tend to cover-up and make excuses for their peers push the problem causing on us for being “inappropriate” if we try telling them not to angry with us for merely asking questions, for not being highly computer literate, or trying to figure out why we may be getting told different stories or told different things from different people. Like my issue today in dealing with being told one thing about ‘Myhealthevet’ then another from one clinic and then from another person then something different from yet another then another who calls me and then wanting specifics, copies of verbal discussions, emails, complete names, dates, times, to thinking I”m supposed to have everything I say or ask about recorded in some manner. Then if it concerns one of their fellow workers they get angry but condescending calling me “sir”… “deep breathing”…. acting pissed, then I have to ask them not to get angry at me I”m just trying to get to the bottom of my problems and who is doing what and why I’m being told so many different things. But then told … I’M being inappropriate for telling this young lady not to get short, cocky, and angry with me?!

          I agree. I don’t care if health care workers in any form are vets or not. If they are going to be shitty and act it then they have no business working with others especially hurting people. Several I have to deal with, or had to, are very cocky, rude, condescending, dismissive and short. From older senior physicians down to nurses, and clerks or those office workers dealing with MyHealthEvet site. Which is not perfect but we aren’t apparently supposed to complain about it’s malfunctioning.

          To me the worst are young fresh out of college brats and mostly females who seem more concerned about their lofty attitudes, arrogant behaviors, and hubris than caring about others. Mainly because here at Terre Haute and Indy we are nothing but college towns and full of student interns and etc. Many here in the Terre Haute, Indiana, and the hospital I go to in Indianapolis area are. great but the government and VA seem to be very restrictive about health care and what is available for us compared to ‘civilian’ health care and medicines that we “are allowed” to use or get.

          The good workers and more personable and understanding do NOT compensate for the negatives or treatment from those in well protected cliques, their offices, or feminist groups apparently,…

        6. Sharese Smith    

          The Va healthcare workers in Nj are the absolute worst. The staff is absolutely terrible and could less about your needs. Unless your missing a limb or eye or something then your not that disabled. So be prepared to beg for whatever you need from the Va.

        7. Solomon Dominguez jr    

          Three times I tried to get help, each time I was rejected, dismissed, one dr. Told me that there are no diseases, my symptoms and conditions are real. So much for the PR campaign. They put on a good show. God forbid I need money or medical care. How dare I even try to ask.
          Seattle Wa. GWVI, PTSD, TBI, CFS, IBS, …….4 different
          diseases, 63 symptoms. I’m dying and seattle VA refused to help me. WTF OVER. Thanks for serving your country, now. Hurry up and die.

        8. Injured    

          What a crock! Go to Montgomery. I am white and what I saw pissed me off, and I raised hell about it. You had 90% black people cleaning floors, tolets, mirrors. The jobs there are held by Civilians. In VISN 7 Look on that map Jursiciations are split in VISN. I know for a fact that GA, AL, SC they have more “Minorties” do lower level jobs, that are veterans, and civilans do the higher paying ones. Ask for a FOIA. They have to give to you. Who in crap told you that the Government had a Union? No wonder they don’t hire more veterans. Read, please and spare yourself.

        9. Solomon Dominguez jr    

          You would think that those veterans/employees would be more respectful to veteran patients

        10. Solomon Dominguez jr    

          Yes it’s me again. Cboc update. My list of symptoms has grown. Not only did the temporary doctor flat out tell me that I was full of shit. There is no diseases. so here’s a pill. The next doctor refused to address all of my conditions and symptoms, she is has refused to test.me for gulf war syndrome. She did not see any arthritis in few xrays that she did order. Wear and tear. My wear and tear leaves me on floor in the fetal position. Crying out, and screaming, because I’m in so much pain. Just ask my children and ex wife. I had to use a wooden chair like a walker. Because I couldn’t stand on my own. An orthopedic doctor gave me an MRI and told me I have arthritis. I think that trumps her xray diagnosis. My illness has become worse. I was in desert storm. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I want my war to end.

        11. Tell    

          Sorry to hear about your difficulties, it must be nation-wide and only select fancier hospitals in the media and where entertainers visit getting the good stuff and staff. Of course it is the governments propaganda tools.
          I go through the proper channels to complain only to discover you’ll be dropped by the physician. I was told they are NOT forced or required to see a patient if they don’t want to or don’t like you especially if you complain about something or apparently ask too many questions.
          Locally in Indiana if I complain about a female and their attitude and such then they turn it around and claim it is me not being politically correct and not liking females in those positions. Very far from the true point or facts of the issue. No, I just don’t care for young women and their cocky arrogant college ways and personalities of a rock with zero bed-side manner and respect. Who think they are too good to answer questions or dare asked to be more kind and civil and use kindlier tones of voice and to please speak slow enough to be understood. Plus their thinking no-one should complain about them or point out wrongs and mis-behaviors. All the females tend to take it personal and start circling their wagons and my clinic is nothing but females and only can speak to females who have been clued in from the Indy hospital. So contacting others in the cliques is no use here. And nothing will be done to them but we will be told to.. “be more patient and understanding of our care-givers and the VA.” Oh us evil men and veterans just seeking some truth, honesty and answers without the hassle, passing the buck, or hearing different excuses. Then pushing the problem on us for finally being upset and actually professing our feelings about some nasty attitudes and treatment.
          After years of trying to get to the bottom of my health issues like yours…. is still hanging. I too am fed-up and gave up except for what I have to do just to pacify them and to try to understand what it is they are doing and expect or question when things go wrong. It seems friggin hopeless while others see no problem and brag about their care and how buddy buddy they are with certain workers. Or how they have special care for being in special levels for health care. Then since they don’t have any complaints all is well with them and the TYPICAL FEMALE GOSSIP machine won’t harm them as long as they bow and not complain. And tell them how beautiful they are at every appointment.

          Crap won’t change until we get some real politicians in office locally and nationally…

      2. Bob    

        No doubt the reason the service is so bad in Jackson Miss, is because most of the staff is a product of Affirmative Action and borderline idiots who were raised in the ghetto and could care less how they treat others, especially white veterans.

        1. George    

          I know what you mean. I remember when Federal Va employees had to take a civil service test but because the blacks couldn’t pass it or make as high a score as whites, the government just got rid of the test.

          I mean. that’s what’s it’s coming down too. Rather than hire the best qualified workers regardless of what color they are, the government would rather get rid of the test, any sort of standards and hire a bunch of rude idiots to take care of the veterans.

        2. Julie    

          I remeber having to go to the Birmingham VA. Just about every employee there was black and hateful as hell.

        3. jillian    

          I work for the govt (social security) and an a veteran. I can tell you, they do require the civil service test where I work. As for affirmitive action, none that I have seen. Our offices are staffed so that we represent the public we serve.

        4. Aliza    

          I have been to several locations and it differs from state to state. It seems to me as though a lot of the people whom have commented on this page are both very ignorant and angry. This has turned into a racial conflict with outspoken hatred and anger towards the African American denomination altogether. Maybe you are being treated so badly because of the disposition you are giving. Most of you really need to reconsider your ways of thinking, you are extremely misinformed! George, who ever told you that the government has gotten rid of the civil service test, and for the reason in which you specified, is full of sh*t! It is not only required, but mandatory by law to be taken. Bob, you must live in a shell to honestly believe that “the ghetto” only consists of those whom should be classified within the “affirmative action” category. How ignorant, there are ghettos everywhere that consist of every race, Black’s, Spanish, Asian’s and yes, even White’s and anyone of these races can and do get treated unfairly. Not just “especially white veterans” which I would suppose you are. Julie, I have sure seen some white “hateful as hell” workers, and from your tone it seems as though you will always be in hell if you can’t learn to love and continue to help those in need of Christ, such as yourself and others on here and in the world. It’s sad for those of us who have not always received the best of care and assistance from VA, but we should also allow those who have had good experiences to share as freedom of speech is entitled. Above all we must know that there is only one Man in control of our lives and destiny, as long as you have faith and keep it, the Lord will surely make a way!! I will keep all of you in my prayers and May God Bless You!
          Sempre Fi!
          AWMS

      3. Bob    

        Richard, Norman should be able to post his experiences at the VA good or bad. Your comment suggest he should curb his happiness and not report it. That is not what we all served for, we served for among many things = Free Speech! 🙂 No disrespect intended, but Norman should be heard too!

      4. Proud VA employee    

        Richard, customer service is individual to the person providing it. I personally guarantee that if you came to Tomah, you would find the staff to be knowledgeable and understanding. Quite a few staff ARE veterans and the non-veteran staff are there because they want to be and are appreciative of the hardships that our veterans have experienced to provide our freedom. I take pride in being able to provide for those that served our country and challenge anyone to say that I have ever treated a patient in any way other than with utmost respect. I truly wish you better experiences in the future.

        1. BO ZO    

          I AM HAPPY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR FACILITY AND HOW WELL THE PATIENTS ARE TREATED. THE ONLY THING I WISH IS THAT THE EMPLOYEES ESPECIALLY THE BLACK ONES TREAT ME LIKE I WHERE A PATIENT AND NOT SOME WHITE GUY THEY HATE IN THE JACKSON & HOUSTON VAMC. THE CRASH OF 2008 BK’D ME AND I DEVELOPED P CANCER AND USED VA HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO. THE DISTASTE FOR A WHITE PATIENT IS SO APPARENT EVEN A WHITE BLIND MAN COULD SEE IT. NOTHING YOU CAN DO BECAUSE 90% OF THE WORKERS ARE BLACK AND GET ANGRY AT YOU FOR EVEN INSINUATING THAT COULD BE TRUE AND MAKE ME OUT TO BE A BAD PERSON. IT IS INSANE BECAUSE NO ONE IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR ANYTHING ANYWHERE THAT I COULD FIND. HOW CAN THIS CONTINUE TO OPERATE THIS WAY WHEN ONLY THOSE PARTS OF GOV THAT WILL SURVIVE ARE THE ONES WITH A QUALITY EDUCATION AND PEOPLE SKILLS.

    2. Injured    

      YA I think you are way out of it. Let me tell you a few things. After my COC threw me out because of RAPE, then after I was diagnosed with my first TBI because of teh rape and dropped by Montgomery VA because they thought they job was over and then told well you know the rape is your fault, that I should get over it and some stupid Director tell me that I wanted to be raped and I have the letter to prove it. I moved to OKC. Then when I was dignosed with the second TBI due to an explosion and my EEGS showed Seizures in the Temporal and Frontal Lobes of Brain, the VA DROPPED ME from care citing that I was not eligable for care because I did not serve 24 months or 18 months they said I am not allowed care only for counseling only for a rape that did nto occur. Meanwhile seizures are getting worse, I have no healthcare because I am nto service conncted, one of my rapists is still in the Army and is an E-5, still maybe raping women.

      My husband in the last 5 years has been abusing me, taking my money, his parents kid-napping my kids and you say you have a great expercience. Shove it you stupid cunt!@

      1. Jim Benedict    

        Please know you are not alone. While I am a medically retired E-5 I knew the same thing that happened to a couple of friends. Don’t give up–go to the media! “60 Minutes” LOVES stories such as yours if you are strong enough to handle the exposure. You are in my prayers. The VA (some of them) are actually trying but my experience has been overall dismal at best. Consider contacting CBS about a piece on your case. That will light a fire under them and put that POS non-com in Leavenworth where he belongs. Again…you are in my prayers…please don’t let them make you a victim twice. three times…you know what I am trying to say. Good luck!
        SEMPER FI

        JB

        1. Jim Benedict    

          correction PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP—keep the faith that justice will be done and karma will prevail. God Bless and Keep You! JB

        2. Sheldon Barber    

          There is no way short of my demise that we are giving up on this. Tom, my nehew, makes jus a little over $1,000.00 per month in social security and there is no way that he can keep up his obligatiions on that, let alone see a doctor.

          I fought the VA for 20 years t get my 100% disability but I finally prevailed nd got t done. Righ now my wife and I get mre than we did when I was working. Yhat to me is a real hoot.

          Thankyo for your advice. Tom and I will talk it over and see which is the best way to go right now. We can alway change directionsifPlan A doesn’t work.

          I hope that you had a very Merry and B;lessed Christmas

          SB

    3. Jesse    

      So I was Honorably discharged under chapter 5-17 for schizophrenia disorder, I had no symptoms at all until I was in the military for a while, when I was discharged I received 6months of medical then it reduced to nothing, Is that ok? It that how there supposed to deal with this situation, Do I deserve at least medical coverage from them to take care of my disorder? I went to VA to apply for disability any was denied?!?!

      1. Alex Horton    

        Jesse, a factor contributing to the decision is whether your condition was preexisting or was caused by your service. If you felt there was a mistake during the claims process, please file an appeal.

        1. Lillian Ching    

          just file an appeal? They have lawyers fighting the claims, not even doctors, we have sick veterans – it takes 3 to 4 claims to get any acknowledgement of disease. Why? Why should the VA give veterans the shaft when they know they chemically poisoned them? Why do they get away with it?

    4. John Martin    

      As long as there are Unions “anywhere”…. and as long as Corporate Bullies keep them (necessary)…. The Good Ol’ U.S.of A. will continue to be buried under a big pile of DUNG!!! Unions served a “NOBLE” purpose when they first originated. They got children out of sweat shops and into school, and they brought about Cleaner, Safer, more Equitable Businesses!!! Factories and other Industrial Facilities were Vastly improved by the implementation of Unions, once the initial “concept” of what a Union was, was ironed out!

      But…. Thanks to the Criminal and Greedy Elements… Unions today, are pretty much doing nothing more than taking the “HARD EARNED” money from people who either – HAVE NO CHOICE(Because of they way the Management/Leadership of their Company treats/or mistreats them)… or THINK THEY HAVE NO CHOICE(Because they’ve been misguided into believing without it they’d be screwed)!!!!

      The VA is being ran exactly like the US Post Office…. and they will both become skeletons, as long as they continue to operate under the principles that the actual “WORKERS” are unnecessary!!!

    5. Dennis Ray Stuart    

      D.R.Stuart
      Richard will looks like the v.a. Union is made up of vet’s that mostly got out of service unscathed misty physically any way. The v.a. Union also serves in places to get union members work yr. To look like this 6 months on 6. Months off. Off time with pay. Plus protection against grievances. Plus power base for even betterr pay etc. It’s a fact! Jack.

    6. Adam    

      Journey Into the VA Abyss, Only the Strong Shall Survive
      Time frame ’09-current

      I feel like this is a dream. I was Medically Discharged w/ Service Connected Disability affecting my peripheral nerves as of Nov ’09 (20% Rating). Disease diagnosis of CIDP. Received IVIG as treatment of choice by the Navy. After discharge, I went in for an EMG nerve study of my legs by VA Neuro. At the time of this study by Neurology; I was strong and able to walk, run, work, and weight lift. Basically, I felt as strong as I normally would. Due to IVIG treatments given by Navy (5 days IVIG). Nerves still showed signs of damage and demylenation.

      2 years and 5 months later, I relapse. With all the same symptoms of muscle twitching, muscle weakness in arms and legs, skin atrophy of palms and feet, numb and red fingertips, tachycardia, and sharp nerve pains. As of February ’12 I am in a battle against the VA health care Dr’s, Neurologists, and Appointment clerks. Neurology wanted me to wait another 4 months to be seen for my weakness and numbness. Thinking in my head (“Am i being punk’ed? Is this for real?”) At that moment I was scared and confused. I did’nt understand why I would have to wait so long to receive my treatment (IVIG). I called around the VA Health system (Long Beach). I found myself in a loop of the VA phone system. Being tossed around like a rag doll, form one clinic to the other. Waiting on hold for 30 to 45 mins was the norm. Muscles in thighs jumping. Fingers twitching in their annoying fashion. Feelings of numbness in fingertips as I hold phone to ear. Sitting in restful bliss. Not really blissfull more like introversion, as I try to keep my mind off my wasting body. I am not a Buddhist, I am a Navy Veteran seeking treatment or help. I try not to acknowledge my relapse, but everything I do reminds me of the disease. Awe, someone answers the phone in the usual optimistic and helpful tone of voice. (Sarcasm) In a robotic voice the lady from the 24 hr Nurse care asks me for name and last four. Well, I am not new to giving out this kind of info. I gave her my information in a swift and smooth reaction of my vocal cords. (I am known to have a great phone voice fyi).

      I gave her my phone # for call back by a Nurse. I waited and waited all night. I fell asleep. The journey seems dark and grim. I pray and hope my organs stay awake and keep me going. Every night I feel nervous of the next day. (“Will I wake the next day? And will my heart still be pumping?”) I look at and take notice of people in the street running and playing. I hear the sounds…

    7. Michael James    

      i have received dental treatment in which Va fee-based me to an outside oral surgeon. i have nerve damage from removal of an impacted wisdom tooth. It was done on September 26, 2011. I need to know what the post-op standard of care should be for someone experiencing nerve damage and dyseasthesia in tooth 26. I want to know if i should have been referred to a specialist.

    8. Dan    

      Va care in Florida is great!!!! been in the system since 1968. much better in the last ten years.Signs all over saying if your not seen in 30 minutes go to desk and complain .everyone is friendly and are mostly Vets..lot of students from med school across street at UF in Gainesville.VA attached to Shans by tunnel… The new cafeteria and the coffee shop is great the pool is big the grounds are beautiful I had cancer surgery and plastic surgery there.Our OPC in Liquinto is nice clean clinic You are always treated fast and with respect ….

  2. Jon Anderson    

    Myth Number six

    There is poor care at the VA facilities

    I have an excellent health care plan from my former employer ( I’m retired ). I had heard many complaints about VA care so I stayed away for many years. Two years ago I decided to give the VA a try. The care I receive at the VA is so good I rarely use my other health plan. The VA staff is dedicated,professional,and very caring. Waiting for awhile is an issue but I think the MD’s get backed up because they will spend extra time with their patients.Right now , I don’t need extra time but I don’t mind waiting while my doctor is spending extra time with someone I don’t know because I might need that time-consuming TLC tomorrow.

    Jon Anderson
    Gainesville, Florida

    1. Brandon Friedman    

      Maybe no one will believe me because I work for VA (and I’m the editor of VAntage Point), but I had the same experience. I’ve had great care at two different VA medical centers and don’t use my private insurance.

      1. Diane Williams    

        I use the VA facilities in La Jolla, Ca and in Oceanside, Ca and I have nothing but the best service, they are always helpful and very nice. I prefer using the VA over regular insurance companies. I have always heard bad things about the VA, but from my experience, it has always been positive. Don’t believe the negative and see for yourself.

        1. John R Coffey Jr    

          Welp, I’m ona the negatives. Wasn’t always that way, in the 80’s, early 90’s I got a fairly high level of care from the Boston VA Healthcare System. NOW, all clinics are staffed by unknowledgeable, inexperienced “D.I.T.” (Doctor-in-Training) Residents. Ya don’t always see the same D.I.T., and if ya do, they aren’t around long enough to form a reasonable “Doctor-Patient” relationship, and all they wanna do is hand out prescriptions. And ya wait forever and a day for an appt.

      2. Solomon Dominguez jr    

        I THINK it’s great, I hope you continue to have a good experience. I however live in Seattle Wa. Where GWVI is a dirty word. We are a pestilences. We are dying and seattle VA refused to help. I was rejected by the VA 3 times. I’m not lying, the conditions and symptoms that are killing me are very real. VA’s P.R. says a lot of shit to the media. Lying to the media and veterans organizations. I want the compensation and pension and medical care that the govt. Said I have a right to, and the VA is mandated to provide. Apparently Seattle Wa staff did not get the memo

        1. Solomon Dominguez jr    

          They say that the veterans are being treated well and are given the top of the line medical care, by caring respectful well trained staff. I THINK they should have to go through what we are having to go through. All you have to do is read All the comments On this page. When does all this TLC supose to happen. VA staff should have to use the VA hospital and clinics.

    2. Sharese Smith    

      This is 100% True!!!! I have Neeeever had a good experience with the VA the claims process is wayyyyyy to long and the healthcare you might as well get a dog to care for you. I didnt believe the stories at first like a dummy until the Va started showing there butts. When i saw the doctor they out talked you and it feels like your on an assembly line. At the Va I go to they give the Vietnam veterans all the care and attention and the OIF/OEF carelessly because they are younger and couldn’t possible be hurt or have any disabilities in any way.

      1. Army Wife    

        My husband was discharged with an nearly 5 years ago from Active Duty. He is still in the National Guard awaiting a fit for duty (that is a whole nother can of worms and BS). In January of 2008 he had a set of Xrays done on his hips. He has had hip problem since basic training where he stepped into a pot hole while on a march, broke his foot and was not allowed to go to the doctor for more than 3 days!!! The VA has been telling hime for 4 and a half years that he has a left hip strain and is only giving him 10% disability for it, even though some days he can’t walk. Well we went to the doctor in March of this year and I mentioned something to his doctor about how bad his hips had gotten. The fool looked up his X-ray results and informed us that there was a possible fracture of his right hip. They neglected to tell us of it for 3 years! They ordered an MRI and it took 3 months to get that and they told us that they couldn’t find anything on the MRI. So now they are sending us to an orthopedist. On top of that, it took 4 years for them to diagnose him with PTSD. The doctor kept telling him that he was just depressed. Now we are waiting for a new determination on his diability, which we have been waiting on for a year now. We are just left in limbo.

    3. Eric Roberts    

      I would agree for the most part John. I go to the Hines VAMC in the Chicago area and get excellent treatment. Yeah, I have had to wait in the ER for a few hours sometimes, but that is about the worse. Now I had recently spent some time in SE Indiana on a contract gig and went to the Cincinnatti VAMC for care and that hospital absolutely sucked. They have 1 doctor on staff in thier ER, so last timne I had to go there, I wated 6 hours…there is no excuse for that. To me, that is bordering on Malpractice.

      Not to the admins…make the comments box bigger and scrollable. I probably have a buttload of typos because I cannot see what I am typing right now.

      1. Alex Horton    

        Eric, we’re working on it right now. It has been annoying me since the start so I’m making sure it gets fixed.

    4. Martin Tidd    

      I’m VA rated combined 60%, all physical issues. I started going to VA in Topeka, Ks back in 2006 when I returned from deployment and medically retired after 14 years. All I can say is that I have gotten the absolute best service from that facility. I’ll even give a shout out to my PCP, P.A. S. Hampton. My civilian doctor, who I no longer use, wasn’t as diligent in the care she gave me. Don’t get me wrong, she was a good doctor, but mine at the VA has called me out of the blue in the evening after regular business hours, to check on me after a surgery. She’s called me to see how new medications were working. Any time I’ve had an issue, whether new or old, she’s always been on top of it. Honestly, I wish everyone could have a professional like her as their doc. The rest of the staff at the Topeka VA has always treated me extremely well and with nothing but respect.
      I know that some of you have had really lousy experiences. All I can say is keep complaining until that particular center gets their act together. We ALL have the right to expect the same treatment that I’ve been fortunate to have at my VA Hospital.
      Now, that being said. I had nothing but horrible service, on par with what some of you have reported, when I was sent to the Kansas City, MO Va Hospital for orthopedic surgery. I would avoid their Gold Clinic like the plague. Really bad employees that apparently care nothing about the vets they serve, poor building maintenance. I once had to walk several flights of stairs on crutches because all of their elevators were broken down.
      Maybe part of it was that the Kansas City, MO VA hospital is in the middle of an apparent ghetto with boarded up abandoned apartment buildings surrounding it.

  3. Sherry Atkinson    

    What about the rumors that I have heard about if you don’t register by a certain amount of time after your discharged that you are not eligible. I have spoken to vets that have been denied b/c of this so called timeframe.

    1. Brandon Friedman    

      Sherry, that’s an unfounded rumor. OEF/OIF Vets are eligible for free health care for five years after separating. Otherwise, there’s no statute of limitations on care.

      1. Sharese Smith    

        Yes there is a statute of limitation because I have been turned away for dental and when they all of a sudden started giving five years of health care I wasn’t eligible and at the time i only had 90 to get my teeth checked.

        1. Joshua Sumitta Hudson    

          OEF/OIF Veterans receive free health care for five years; HOWEVER, they only receive dental for short time after leaving service (I believe 180 days).

    2. Gary Cox    

      There is no time limit to register with the VA. I’m retired (med) from the Army and have been using VA for over 23 years. The medical care is top-notch. I heard the rumors all the time, but never seen and thing like it. The VA Hospital in Houston (MEDVAMC) have a great staff and is improving itself all the time to cater to the needs of the veterans in every way. I went through the VA Domiciliary Program, and you couldn’t ask for better help.
      The Benefits offices may be another story……it involves time….lots of time.

    3. Scot Danner    

      I ETSed in 1989 and applied for VA health benefits in 2009. SO you have over 20 years to qualify at worst! 🙂

      1. joe    

        I also ETS ed but in 90 had one c7p set done then waited on my next app. and card for ten years 100% at discharge the 10% by va i was made to seek other sources for meds & asstince in removing halo brace when the time was up I ended up doing it myself! as i was denied service if it wasent for one of the docs. i probily would not have survived . the hole system in sc needs to be guted and start over, if you discrimenate in any way you do not need to be in charge of mops or any thing.

    4. Jeff    

      According to the VA. I was denied disability for tenitis, because I did not apply for it within 5 years of retirement! I did not file an appeal at that time. I have applied for this again, providing documentation to show environmental and occupational hazards while active duty. But St Louis Regional Office will not even re-open the file. I have been retired from active duty since 1998….and I’m a VA employee!

    5. Paul MacAuley    

      While I was in the service (1969-1973), I developed what I thought was hip/leg/knee pain. I went to the corpsman on my ship who sent me to the sickbay at the base nearby. The condition eventually resolved it self – I don’t remember receiving any treatment while I was in the service other than maybe some pain meds. I didn’t mention the problem at the physical at the end of my enlistment because the rumor was “If you have something wrong with you that developed during your enlistment, they will keep you until it’s resolved” and I was ready to get out. After discharge, I lived in Boise, and when the symptoms came back, I went to the VA there and had x-rays done. The symptoms had come and gone since my discharge in ’73 and my visit to the VA Hospital in Boise was about 1975 or ’76. When I went back for the followup and saw the doc who had ordered the x-rays, he said, while he searched his desk for the report, that he hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary in them. It was apparent that he couldn’t find it and he then excused himself and left the room. When he returned (holding the x-rays up to the light) he said, “If you go under the knife for this when you’re young, you’re crazy.” You tend to remember something like that. He explained the x-ray image to me and his diagnosis – Sciatica – and gave me a script for 250 Darvocet. They worked when I took them as far as relief went but made me sick when I stopped after I took them for a few days so I threw most of them away. A few years later, I saw my regular doc who gave me some exercises to strengthen my stomach muscles.

      Later, in the ’90s, I had no job and no health insurance and used the services at the VA for depression I was suffering. Prozac then cost about $50 dollars a month and I could get it at the VA for $2 so it was a substantial savings . I eventually got a job with a company that had great healthcare insurance so I didn’t use the VA for the next few years thinking I’d let those use it who had more need. In 2004, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of Arthritis like Rheumatoid Arthritis, but which primarily affects the spine. That explained the Sciatica which is a primary symptom of this disease. In the worst cases, the spine can fuse causing limited mobility (Ed Sullivan suffered from AS – that’s why his movements were so stiff). Ok, I’m sorry to have drug you through my life’s history, but I thought it might help put into perspective what happened next.

      Two years ago in the fall I went to the local Va clinic in eastern Idaho where I live now for a flu shot. The clinic is only about 5 minutes from home and I am now retired on SSDI because of the AS so whatever I can save makes a difference. I was informed my VA eligability had expired and they couldn’t treat me – not even a flu shot. EXPIRED?!? Their word, not mine – I didn’t realise it could expire! So, I wrote a kind of cranky letter to my Senator, a republican, voicing my outrage and suggested that he and his fellows consider balancing the budget on someone else’s back rather than penalize those who had served their country. He responded with a letter saying he was “disturbed” by my letter and that I would soon be contacted by the VA to help me become reestablished in their system. I am now able to use my VA medical benefits, the care is wonderful and I now get most of my meds thru the VA, but I wonder about the others who may not have the persistance I do to have their situation examined. I can only speak from my own experience, but it seems that ex-service members ARE denied treatment at the VA.

  4. Jason Shattuck    

    I wish some one would have told me all of those a few years ago. I only recently went to the VA because I had a service connected issue. Now after not being educated about care I go to VA nearly exclusively.

    Do I have to have a service cinnection Disabilty rateing before I can apply for voc rehab? I have my 1st claim in and still waiting for a diesion. So as of now I’m not service connected, but I think by talking with other vets I might be at 30% or more

    1. Alex Horton    

      Jason, you have to have at least a 10% disability rating or 20% memorandum rating before you can apply for Voc Rehab. More info is here:

      http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/

      1. Richard C    

        Alex, if that’s true, why is it I was refused VocRehab and I’m 60% disabled and combat wounded. The evaluator gave three different reasons when I challenged the ruling three different times, with the final being that I am hirable as is. Funny! I haven’t been able to get full time employment in five years. I’m 60 years old, bright, educated, experienced and simply wanted to update my computer certifications.
        So don’t be telling these people that Voc ReHab is do-able. It’s a lie.

        1. Alex Horton    

          Richard C, As I understand it, a disability rating of 10% is not an automatic qualifier for Voc Rehab. It’s up to the determination of the evaluator to say if you’re employable, but if you’re unhappy with what they concluded, you have the right to appeal and see another evaluator.

      2. David Rizer    

        This more of a question: Are evaluators medically trained or a specialist of some type? The same question about RO’s system wide.

    2. Eric Roberts    

      Yeah..I think that is a big problem that does need to be addressed many vets, as they are leaving service, do not realize the benefits they have coming to them as a result of thier service, regardless if they are disabled or not. I am rated at 20% and I didn’t realize I was eligeble for healthcare benefits for a long time. Had I know, that probably would have saved a few hospital stays due to diabetes related conditions that I had to deal with when I wasn’t insured and not under a doc’s care because I didn’t have insurance. I have racked up some debt from a couple of stays that I wouldn’t have had I known. I think more should be done to educate people about this as they leave service so they are not just left in the dark. That should be part of an ETS packet or maybe even have outgoing servicemen attnd a class before they leave on thier VA benefits. Anything would be helpful in that regard.

      1. Joshua Sumitta Hudson    

        Service members are “suppposed” to go to TAP (Transistion Assistance Program) before they discharge. Unfortunately, many choose to avoid the class– or in the case of reservists– don’t have time to take the class. It is a soft mandatory for commanders, who SHOULD send everyone but don’t get punished if they don’t.

        Those TAP classes go over your VA benefits and help you process into the VA system.

        Since so many service members are missing out on this valuable information, it is up to EVERY VETERAN to get the word out.

        1. wolfe    

          “TAP” class was “PROVIDED BY” an stand-in undeployable E-7 at fort bliss in 2004. There was no assistance in transition. I was given a book for persons transitioning from the service to ciliviian careers. (NOT HELPFUL, I KNEW HOW TO WRITE A RESUME)

          These classes should be given by Veterans Affairs staff not active duty personel who dont care and dont really understand the VA system.

          Everything I have learned about the veterans system has come from fellow veterans struggling through the same system. Unfortunate.

        2. OIF Vet 2004    

          I too attended the TAPS class in 2004, it also was led by an active duty petty officer, it only showed us how to transition into civilian jobs and such, told nothing of how to register with the VA or anything. I found all of this information on my own and will be going to my local office as soon as my husband can get a day off of work to watch our children. This information should be given to any vet that is being discharged as they are filing their paperwork.

  5. Creighton Holub    

    No kidding. It’s definitely time to see about getting this stuff lined up — just in case!

    1. Gary Cox    

      True, report EVERYTHING you may think could be wrong with you…If you stubbed your toe while in the service, and it got infected, and you went to the doctor, report it to the VA in your med records. It may sound odd, but trust me, you may need it someday , and if you have it documented, they will help you. Also, get a veteran service, such as the DAV, American Legion, or in TX- Texas Veterans Commission. They know what and how to file your claim for you. They also have the right connections to get the paperwork into the flow, instead of sitting in an in-box for several months. There’s also many services and info here online. Check it all out.

      1. Friendly Advise    

        When I left the Navy in 1991 I attended a class that gave the once over for benefits available when I separated. It truly was the poorest class that the Navy could have offered! The instructors along with our senior enlisted personnel when specifically asked about healthcare treatment from the VA when we left service said that first of all when you have your separation physical(s) make sure that you don’t mention anything or draw attention to anything otherwise you would be placed on medical hold and would not separate then when you were expecting to as then the health issue(s) would then have to be further investigated. Additionally, the instructors said that since most of us vets had new civilian jobs lined up prior to leaving the service that normally there was a thirty-ninety day waiting period with your new employer‘s healthcare. That in an extreme emergency that if needed before our civilian healthcare kicked in we could take our DD-214’s to the VA and be treated on a case by case basis. Anyways, I had been diagnosed while in service for a couple of chronic health issues, yet I followed the advise of others and said I was in perfect health and signed off that I was, as I didn’t want to be placed on medical hold. Also we were truly given bum information all around as now I realized that I should have been discharged with service connected disabilities that were awarded years later, yet I missed out on 16 years of compensation. I have a nephew that recently joined the Army and I advised him since he is in perfect health that he needs to ensure that when he separates to make sure that he gets everything clearly documented, along with multiple copies of his service/medical records when he decides to leave the service. No one every gave me this advise as I left the service, it would have saved so much aggravation years later. Lesson learned if you have friends and family that are serving and they are healthy when they enter service and come out less than healthy because of injury or illness due to service then they are entitled to compensation in many cases. Encourage them to cover their backsides and to make sure that if they are not awarded with a disability to ensure that they file a claim within the one year mark of separation, just some friendly advice, as in my case you never know how these things can bite you later.

  6. TOM SCHELL    

    THE VA FACILITIES IN BAY PINES, FL IS ABSOLUTELY GREAT. THE MOST INFORMATIVE AND THOROUGH EXAM I HAVE EVER HAD. THE MEDICAL STAFF ARE GENUINELY CONCERNED AND IT IS THE CLEANEST MEDICAL FACILITY I KNOW OF.

    1. Marvin Franklin    

      Don’t go to the Miami VA.

      1. Doug White    

        I am a 100% service-connected vet from the Korean era. Recently I was in an auto accident as a passenger (strangely only 1 block from the Audie Murphy VA hospital in San Antonio.) I went to the Emergency Dept with a hand fracture. I waited 4 hours for an x-ray and after waiting another 4 hours to see a Doctor, I left and sought care elsewhere. where I was seen and treated within 30 minutes,

  7. Charles L. Freeman    

    I was a victim of Myth #1 for many years until a co-worker who served in the Navy set me straight. I’ve been going to the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles since early 2004 and the wonderful folks there have done nothing but save my life.

    I’m currently on disability, back in school and even when I get my degree and a new job – God willing – I will remain faithful to the VA!

    1. Tony Roulhac    

      Amen! Support our VA because they take care of us.

    2. Elizabeth Albright    

      I was a victim of myth #1 as well. My ex would tell me that I didn’t qualify (he is a vet as well), so I never bothered. At my last job, a coworker told me the same thing, I served and earned the right. I always used my health insurance, because I felt that whatever was paid by my healt insurance would also help out another vet who didn’t have any insurance at all.

  8. Bruce Burgesss    

    Alex and/or Brandon, What is a “memorandum rating”? How does someone obtain one, and is this for use in VocRehab only or also in obtaining points towards federal employment; say for example when one is waiting for a disability claim for an extraordinarily long time? I have received many mixed signals from the VBA about this matter, often being told of a “Letter of Presumptive Disability” as well. A federal employment recruiter told me about the presumption letter and advised that I press the VBA for this type of document; if I wished to maximize my federal job prospects. If one calls the 800-827-1000 VBA assistance line, you get a myriad of answers from anyone you talk to. I fully understand the call center employees may not be up to speed on these issues. Will you guys look into this and sort it out and provide us a good solid answer that we can reference in communication with the VBA? Thanks in advance, Bruce.

    1. Georgia Vitense - HEC    

      I’m not sure if the “memorandum rating” referred to here is the same as what I know to be the “preliminary award letter” –

      Many times Veteran’s get a copy of their preliminary award letter from a Veterans Service Officer (VSO). The Veteran then takes a copy to the VAMC for updating. This is only a preliminary finding and not official rating so the VA entities are unable to update – as it is NOT yet “official”

      If you are applying for a Federal Job and claiming 10-point Veterans Preference you will be required to provide your VBA Rating Decision letter with your application in order to qualify for the 10-point Veterans Preference.

      1. Chris Henderson    

        A memorandum rating is usually associated with Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) proceedings and if it appears you will be seperated with a disability then you can a apply for VR&E in conjunction with the disability rating. Also check VA’s pre-discharge benefits page or the BDD program. Even if you are not getting out on disability then you can apply for simultaneous consideration for VR&E

        1. Bruce Burgess    

          Georgie and Chris, thanks for the replies. I think that Chris is correct about the memorandum rating being used for those who were undergoing MEB/PEB on active duty.

          With this in mind, I would like to once again specifically ask BRANDON or ALEX to look into this issue and determine “What steps the VBA is taking to provide some sort of advance notification regarding the potential outcome of a Veterans Disability Claim, in order to maximize federal job opportunities for Veterans, in particular those who are wounded and whose wounds adversely effect employment options thus necessitating federal employment as the most likely option?”.

          I know for a fact I am not the only OIF/OEF Veteran, with a life and family that is languishing, while the VBA takes their time with my claim (month 14 on initial claim). I know I am not the only Veteran who is not satisfied with simply “going to school” and I know I am not the only Veteran who would love nothing more than to secure a decent living wage in a decent federal position. Consider it a “pat on the back” from Uncle Sam for two tours in combat. However, without the magical VBA brown envelope and its disability ratings decision, I have nothing except injuries that must be discussed with an employer, without delivering him/her the ability to make “reasonable accommodations” or benefit from the prestige and benefits that federal hiring managers receive for their agency when they hire a disabled Veteran.

          In closing, I say again. Will someone with some authority or knowledge look into this matter? Nobody at the VA seems to know and nobody at the VA wants to possibly tell me no, or get their hands dirty. If the answer is unpalatable, I can accept that. I simply am requesting honesty rather than this game of “promises of future developments” that never develop. Thanks again, and do not confuse my stern tone with any animosity. I simply have exhausted all other options. From Wounded Warrior to my Congressperson, nobody knows the answer, and I am sure I am one of thousands who would like to know, and possibly be given the opportunity, to compete for federal employment without having to explain injuries yet lacking a disability letter that at this juncture has taken over a year to process without closure.

    2. Jon Johnson    

      A memorandum rating is not limited to those going through MEB, I had one issued by my regional VA Voc Rehab office because my rating decision was taking an extremely long time. This allows the Veteran to receive some of the Voc Rehab benefits while waiting on a final rating decision. The memorandum rating is done utilizing the disabilty criteria for the conditions you submit for service connection. I don’t believe that you can use the Memorandum rating for federal veteran hiring preference but the best thing you can do is contact a Veteran Service Officer who can work on your behalf during all things related to VA Benefits.

    3. Alex Horton    

      Bruce,

      While I’m not an expert on the matter, I’m fairly certain that there is no mechanism in place that would act as a pre-approval for your disability claim, and to my knowledge there isn’t anything in the works for something like that. The closest thing is eBenefits, which allows you to check on the status of your claim, not necessarily if it’s heading in a favorable direction that would satisfy federal hiring preferences for disabled Veterans. I don’t think it’s 100% yet, and some Vets have reported problems with the site, but it’s worth a shot so you can get a better idea of when your claim will be decided:

      https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/appmanager/eb/veterans

      I know the federal government is mandated to hire under Veterans preference, so you can still apply under the 5 point rule until your claim is decided. I know it’s not ideal right now, and you have a better shot with your disability letter in hand, but it’s the best solution for now. Go here to check out federal government jobs for Veterans:

      http://www.fedshirevets.gov/

      That’s about all I have on the matter, so if you’re still looking for more answers, I’d be happy to see if anyone in VBA can help with your question. Thanks for writing in.

      1. Bruce Burgess    

        Alex, first of all I wanted to say thank you for the timely reply. I also wanted to inform you that the VBA contacted Wounded Warrior regarding my case yesterday and stated that an advance decision on my entry into VocRehab was granted and placed in my file. The wording of “advance” in the statement is what threw The Wounded Warrior Foundation and I off track. Apparently this is a somewhat normal method to deliver a ruling on VocRehab eligibility, by awarding VocRehab services and referrals to VocRehab before the claim is finished. As government red-tape would have it, I am not allowed to use the VocRehab services until my claim is officially finished. To sum matters up, different departments of the VBA work on different matters and some finish before others. Regarding the “Letter of Presumption” for federal employment, you and others are 100% correct that no such letter exists and a Veteran cannot claim points toward federal employment until the claim is finished. Unfortunately, I was duped into believing so by a federal employment recruiter who is not a Veteran himself. In closing, I wanted to say thanks to you and everyone else that has looked into this matter for me and have a great week.

        1. Alex Horton    

          You’re welcome Bruce, glad to help. You experienced something that we’re working hard to reverse – misinformation and misunderstanding about VA benefits.

          Perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but I’m happy to hear the Voc Rehab enrollment process has already begun. That way it’ll be quicker to get your benefits when your claim is decided. Good luck and let us know how it works out.

  9. Jason Kahl    

    Another Myth, is if the VA screws up and causes your 100% P&Total disability you will be treated “As If” you were hurt in the service..NOT TRUE IF you were hurt in the Service your family would get benefits…If the VA messes up your family is on there OWN!

  10. Tom Morgan    

    The Houston VA (DeBakey) and outpatient clinic in Richmond are great. They are knowledgable and caring. Having a very bad experience earlier I badked away from VA for a number of years, I have really been impressed now. . .

    1. Gary Cox    

      They also have a great one in Conroe. They just opened or getting ready to open another one in Texas City.
      The MEDVAMC is one of the finest hospital around. The help many vets and their volunteer staff are awesome.

    2. Jason Kahl    

      Debakey just has too many patients, the student that did my surgery in March is gone his work fell apart in May and had to be redone. Debakey is nothing special although they seem to think a lot of themselves..

  11. Lesa Carsten    

    I retired from the Navy in Dec 2009 with a rating of 80%. My husband is till active duty and I receive medical care through TRICARE Prime. Do I need to go to a VA facility to maintain this rating?

    1. Georgia Vitense - VA Health Eligibility Center    

      You do not need to receive care at a VA to maintain a Service Connected rating. There are some cases when a Service Connected Veteran may be required to be seen at a VA for a follow up evaluation on a Service Connected condition (possibly to determine if the condition is permanent & total) – The bottom line is that you are NOT required to seek care at a VA in order to maintain your SC rating.

    2. Linda Radtke    

      Lesa, Was your 80% rating from the Navy or from the VA. It could be different if it was from the military. So many veterans not – in – the – know, get the two confused. Remember that the VA is NOT the military. Also, I have had great satisfaction here in the Saginaw & Ann Arbor VAMC’s, Michigan; but no one is ever 100% satisfied no matter where you get your care. There is always room for improvement but I would rate those 2 hospitals a 9 out of 10.

  12. Jason Kahl    

    I sat in the Houston VA for two weeks just for 1 hour a day physical therapy, they wanted me to stay for another week, I could hardly justify being away from the kids for that one hour a day. The problem with Houston is there are too many patients, everyone in the VISN goes there for specialized care what should have been 2-3 times a day PT was only one. They are overloaded and more going in..

  13. Dan Goff    

    Please show up for your appointments. A No Show wastes valuable time for a veteran actually looking to gain access to care. We are paid by salary and paid well and I look forward to serving you, but you need to show up!

    1. Nancy Gertner    

      The scheduling system has potential for improvement. When only a letter is sent to inform the patient of the appointment, and the patient returns home from vacation to read their mail and discover they missed an appointment, the patient was unable to reschedule and allow another patient to have their appointment time. IF the VA can call patients using an automated system, I think they should also be able to use a system to notify patients of appointments via email and / or text messages.

      1. Richard    

        Everyone should try to remember that most VA medical facilities are largely staffed by VETERANS. They know personally what it is you have gone through, what you need, and what you expect.
        Text/email is not a bad idea Nancy, except that so many patients in the VA healthcare system don’t have computers or cell phones. We still have WWII vets in our care and most of them would as soon grab a serpents tail as learn to use the computer or learn to TEXT. The letter you mentioned is NOT the only form of communication in most VA facilities- usually they will try to call you (minimum TWICE) 30 days BEFORE your proposed appt date, and they send the letter regardless of whether or not you answered the phone. You mentioned the vacation issue, but were you gone on vacation for a whole month? Would that we were all so lucky! And I must say that Dan is right- the biggest waste of time and money in the VA are the vets who do not show up for their appointments; and the more overwhelmed the VA gets, the more important it is. There are not unlimited appointment times. Each doctor has X number of patients he can see in a day. New patients take longer. If you don’t make it to your appointment, the doctor’s scheduled day is at least a partial loss and some vet had to wait because you didn’t show.

        1. Alex Horton    

          Richard, take it down a couple notches. It doesn’t do any good to pretend every Veteran employed by VA will always have the interest of Vets at heart at all times. We’re all human and subject to burn out, exhaustion and a loss of empathy, Veteran employees included. A lot of employees are doing the best they can, and I see it every day, but some are punching the ticket. But humans are all we got, so the good ones have to work the imperfect system the best they can.

          We encourage VA employees to have a dialogue with Veterans here, but please remain respectful to those you serve.

        2. Eric Roberts    

          You are correct…but they should offer that option to those of us who do regularly use email or text messaging. I have often run into an issue where I get the letter the day before, maiking it too late for me to change my schedule to make the appointment. My current re-eval for my disability claim got screwed up because they set the appointment without consulting me first, like they are now supposed to do. They scheduled an appointment with ortho while I was out of town on business. I was supposed to call them back to reschedule when I got back…by that time they had scheduled one for my diabetes…but didn’t label it as such, so here I go and drive 30 miles away to go to my appointment just to find out that they can’t do anything because I hadn’t done the ortho eval yet. I had no idea that this was a separate appointment because the info in the letter didn’t state anything. SUpposedly, the regional VA was supposed to send out something saying that Iw as supposed to have separate appointments. Here’s a good question for the good folk at the VA reading this: Why are two separate entities involved like this? WOuldn’t it make more sense for the hospital to send out both appts and have an accompanying letter stating that they are for differnt purposes and that one needs to be done before the other, etc…? The VA (and other govert agencies) have a long history of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing…

          I think improved communication using email and text messaging would go a long way to solving this. Even having a listing of upcoming appointments on the MyHealthyEVet site would be very helpful. THat would be a good segway into setting up alerts. As part of the calendar functions, you can set up options that allow for email and/or text message alerts. This would necessaarily have to be tied into the schedulaing system so that the two are in sync. I would also have an option to add an alert for all new appointments bewing made as well as monthly alerts and a reminder alert a few days ahead of time. (BTW I am a web developer and available for hire *grin*)

      2. Doug White    

        At the San Antonio clinics they use volunteers to call with appointment and/or rescheduling. It seems to work very well. I also encourage everyone to show up for appointments, early if possible or call and re-schedule as far in advance as you can.

        1. Eric Roberts    

          I think the point is that we have the technology to automate this and give us the ability to control how we want to be alerted and the VA is not currently taking advantage of those technologies (yes…you guys have been improving alot recently in that area and we do appreciate it)

      3. Mike M    

        Nancy,

        You make a great point that seems it could be technically feasible as one option for informing Veterans about upcoming appointments. My bet is that we will see it eventually.

        No shows are important and the recent conversations about them have made me more mindful of how they impact resources my fellow veterans need also.

        My mom was the last person I ever thought would text, and now with smart phones with cameras what they are and her love of sending and receiving pictures of the grandkids quickly, she out-texts me.

        Times change, things change, and VA seems to me to be really taking a look at improvements that can be made with technology and implementing real changes. I recently joined the VA to be part of that because I believe in the need for it so much.

        All this talk about transformation is not happening because it just happens to be a neat buzzword. It is happening because there is a very real need for it. Acknowledging that is good, so is acknowledging that things are changing and there are things happening to be proud of.

        I’ve got as many horror stories as anyone who has been a customer of the VA for 15 years. I could write a book about them. I’ve also had many positive experiences and met incredible dedicated caring people who have saved my life more times than I can count on two hands. Both sides of the coin happen to be true, but Veterans shouldn’t have to flip a coin when they go to the VA.

        Since I have joined VA, I have seen employees with the same old mediocre attitude my experience with VA has trained me well to recognize. We should call lit what it is. I have also been seeing the real efforts by people who acknowledge the problems, are actually trying to work on them, and who are rightfully proud of the good that is being done.

        This incredible Social Media experiment that we are part of is about many things, but it is not about ‘yelling’ at customers in all caps and trying to ‘inform’ them while they are joining the conversation that needs to take place if we are really going to get the VA that Veterans deserve.

        Alex, you are my new hero.

  14. Jason Kahl    

    Most appointments are double and triple booked the claim not showing up is bogus, I called yesterday to get a appointment they were booked until mid Jan.

    Stop blaming Vets for VA problems!

    1. Dan Goff    

      You can call and get a Same day
      appointment usually. Where is your proof that they double and triple book?

    2. Bill Hoffman    

      I needed to be seen by my VA doctor at the Lock Mar VAMC in Baltimore,Md. the same day and didn’t have any problems. I called and within minutes of arriving I was seen by my doctor. So it can happen if need be.

      1. Eric Roberts    

        I think that really depends on the location and how many resources the local VA has. It usually takes me a couple of weeks to get into the local satellite clinic and about a week to get into see a doc at the hospital. If I need immediate care, I have to go to the ER. That is pretty on par with private services in the area.

        1. Kevin Lefever    

          Dan/Bill, Bull. Eric, right on, it depends on the location. Williamsport VA Clinic you don’t get an appointment unless it is your yearly physical otherwise you get a call from the triage nurse whose only answer is take motrin. Wilkes-Barre VA Hospital, one month minimum to get an appt at any of the clinics. We are told by the doctors and nurses to either make an appt for a possible problem when you check out or go to the emergency room for the smallest problem because then you’ll get seen sometime the same day. Each location IS different and DVA AND its workers on this site need to stop taking things personal especially if it doesn’t pertain to THEIR location. The DVA has great locations/people, good locations/people, bad locations/people, and terrible locations/people and I truly believe the DVA is trying to improve all.

  15. Jason Kahl    

    I walked into the VA in Feb 2009 with a backache and limp, the time they did surgery in APRIL 2009 my spinal cord was already damaged(sitting around waiting for appointments and for the correct test to be run)
    In June 2009 I was told another surgery was needed I had to wait until March of 2010 to have it, that surgery lasted until May 2010 and fully collapsed in June 2010 for my Third time under the knife. It took 19 months before I had my FIRST evaluation at the Houston spinal cord clinic, even then I sat around as stated above..
    When I objected and filed for a investigation ALL of the C&P doctors said the whole thing was VA’s fault one doc wrote “my disability was due to Negligence and Carelessness of the VAMC” do you know HOW HARD it is to prove a 1151 malpractice claim? I won mine without even a appeal, I got if the FIRST TIME!, it was all there in black and white.
    I called yesterday to get a appointment, the NEXT AVAILABLE is in MID JAN 2011!

    I KNOW EVERYTHING there is about waiting for appointments, I remember sitting in the patient advocates office last Feb. CRYING like a BABY for someone to help and get appointments faster, I was told I just had to wait..now look at me just a shell of who I was before VA …

  16. Jason Kahl    

    I remember waking up after surgery on my spine and being transported through the hospital with NO PAIN MEDS! and the nurses yelling at me for me screaming in PAIN!..

    I remember the Doc saying “I would just have to learn to live with my limitations” after I asked for a adaptive equipment that would let me go to the park with my kids or even go check the Mail, I begged them, I have deep grass and gravel driveway, I live in rural Louisiana. A regular my standard wheelchair will not go where I need it!

    Time after time after TIME, I have been demoralized and mistreated by VA, then told “sorry” and for me to get over it.
    Now that I am a cripple and my wife takes care of me VA denied her benefits and my family too.

    I am not just making this up, I am 100% P& Total disabled under a 1151 everything I said is well documented at VA.

  17. Mrs Glen R Hemingway    

    I am entering this as my husband Glen is incapable of doing, as a result of multiple strokes. In or around 1972, Glen was given a “Medical Discharge” because of his loss of vision. He was accepted into the US Army and passed all physicals including vision tests. He qualified as an expert at the rifle range and certainly could not have done so if his vision was not good. Since 2000, I have filed and appealed the VA decision that it was not service connected. I am at a loss of what to do. The VA did indeed accept him for medical and have worked very good with his overall healthcare. He has had 3 heart attacks and 3 TIA stroke. Because of a spinal injury he has had 6 surgeries. I have written letters to the VA, to my Congressman, State Senator, and to the DAV. Even before the hearing, the DAV said that there was absolutely no reason that he should be denied his service connected. He lost his vision while in the US Army. But low and behold then and every appeal even just a month ago, still the VA denies that his loss of vision was caused by anything while he was in service. SOMETHING IS WRONG with a system where a vet is Medically Discharged because he no longer meets the standards of the US Army and now the VA says Sorry, it didnt happen while he was in service. I have appealed several times and will appeal again and again and again. Any help that you might have would be so greatly appreciated. I now for the past 4 years had to quit my job to take fulltime care of my husband. He does get SS Disability but he earned his VA benefits and keeps gettng denied. The VA gets his Glasses, all sorts of visionary equipment but still will not grant him his service cdonnected disability. Please help ! I think 10+ years of continually appealing and continually being denied is just not right. He was Medically Discharged because he no longer qualified to be in the ARMY. Whats the problem ?? He lost his vision while in the military..HELP Thank you for your time, Jeannie Hemingway

    1. Richard    

      Unfortunately, Jeannie, most disability claims for service are broken down into one important question- was the issue a cause of or aggravated by the vets service? If something happens, especially something that would have happened regardless of being in the service, and it was not a direct RESULT of being in the service, then it’s not considered service connected disability. Being in the Army doesn’t cause strokes, unless something happened to cause the stroke, or unless he was exposed to something that caused the stroke. It is often confusing, as some people think that getting a disability while in service is the same as a service connected disability. They are not the same thing. So the question you need to answer to get service connected rating is, “What happened during the course of your husbands DUTY to contribute to or cause his disablity.” If you can answer that question directly and offer evidence to support it, you should indeed get service connected disability.

  18. Jim Washok    

    If you have doubt about VA Health Care, go to the VA web site http://www.va.gov and the site will have answers to your questions. I entered the VA health care in 2002 because I was having problems with the private sector health care. I am very happy with treatment and respect shown me and they also answer all my questions. Not everyone will be happy with the VA but it comes down to the need and wants of the Individal.

    1. Ernest Poulin    

      Jim, please see my 18 December 2010 reply to your message below. The confirmation image was reset and it ended up posting at the bottom instead of as a reply below your message.

  19. EDWARD SMITH    

    I have been unable to receive proper care at the Community Based Clinic in Springfield, Illinois. It stink’s.
    Ed Smith

    1. jp    

      If your CBOC is contract employees such as Terre Haute, IN , i understand. I am not allowed to contact my PCP, but once a year. If i have an acute condition, too bad, i have been instructed to go to the ER, as they will not give me an appt.

  20. Jason Kahl    

    My only “Need and Want” is to be able to walk again, that will never happen…Oh thank you so much VA you done such a Wonderful job…Your the Greatest…..everyone happy now?

  21. Robert F. Woodburn, Msgt, Retired    

    In 2007 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, in 2009I went to the Columbia VA Hospital and recieved a 100% disability rating. They have denied retroactive benefits to when first diagnosed. Have appealed and been denied

    1. jp    

      keep appealing, i did, i let it sit for a while, and 8 years later i got it. Just as they were preparing it for the VBA

  22. Bob Ventrella    

    A mention from two veterans,. My wife and I have over thirty years active duty between us. The Facility in North Chicago IL is among the best we have ever seen. Proffessional and courteous and most of all knoweledgeable and caring.

  23. CARL CARSON    

    VA CLINIC IN GADSDEN,AL HAS THE BEST MEDICAL CARE I HAVE EVER SEEN.THE DOCTORS,NURSES,AND STAFF ARE THE MOST CARING AND COURTEOUS YOU WILL EVER FIND.THE STAFF WHEN YOU ENTER HAS A WAY OF MAKING YOU FEEL BETTER WHEN YOU CHECK IN EVEN BEFORE YOU SEE THE DOCTOR. VA GADSDEN ALABAMA IS WITHOUT A DOUBT IS THE BEST VA HAS TO OFFER. I FOR ONE DO APPRICIATE THEM FOR BEING SO NICE AND ALWAYS RECEIVING THE BEST TREATMENT.

  24. Emilio    

    I’m satisfied with VA care for the most part but what I need most is dental care. I’ve wondered why the VA doesn’t provide dental care except in special circumstances. I know this a matter for those in charge of the VA and the Congress but if there is enough demand among veterans perhaps the VA will get funding for dental care?

  25. Bill Parrott    

    I had a squamas cell carcinoma, a malignant tumor in my throat about 10 years ago. I had a doctor at M.D. Anderson Hospiial in Houston, Texas and he put a camera up my nose and looked at my throat, esophogus, trachia and said smoking was not the cause of my cancer but I had a di-oxin poisoning. After interviewing me we came to the conclusion my problem was caused by the Agent Orange exposure I had in Viet Nam in 1968-69. He wanted me to apply at the VA and when I did I was turned down. I met a man who was in The Air Force in the 60’s and his job was to load atomic weapons in the aircraft but was given a 45 day TDY tour to Thailand during the war and while he was there he loaded Agent Orange to be sent to Viet Nam. One day he sat on a drum which had spillage on it and he got his bottom wet with Agent Orange and he had problems with the exposure. He had 100% diaabilitly and he encouraged me to go to the VA and have them examine and reopen my case. Well I did and when I was interviewed by a bureaucrat at the VA he said they had no proof I was in the Army so Viet Nam was out of the question. I really lost my temper and told him he had my DD 214 in the stack of papers on his desk and that would show where I had been, etc. He said, “Well my supervisor gave me my instructions and la de da. Well I blew up and told him he like all the polyanna bureaucrats were really not in touch. I then reverted back to my old US Army Ranger tactics and my days in the oil field and I then said he was a candy assed bureaucrat who didn’t know his asshole from his appetite and he was going to pass judgement on the vets. I had yelled that and I just got up and walked out. I was patted on the back by several VA employees as I left. I haven’t been back. I still have problems in my throat and I have no saliva gland to give me moisture in my mouth. But what the hey.

    1. Nancy Gertner    

      Recent policy changes have added additional medical conditions presumptive to Agent Orange, I think you should try again to get treatment, and you may have a different outcome. If your incident was about 10 years ago, that VA bureaucrat may be long gone.

    2. Richard    

      Nancy is totally right- agent orange exposure has recently been upgraded in priority, if you will, and just about anybody who was in Vietnam can qualify- especially if you have health issues that are symptomatic of agent orange exposure. Furthermore, it is your right to request another hearing, with a different doctor.

      1. jp    

        I had to get a different doctor to get mine passed through, and i had to do the research. I even had two civilian doctors verifiy the connection just in case.

    3. Richard    

      You should get on the vetrecs website and request a copy of your dd 214. Next time someone says you were never in the army you can hand them the paper. Problem solved.

    4. Solomon Dominguez jr    

      So what is the VA’s purpose, the reason for there existance. why was the department of veteran affairs created. What was the intentions of the persons that brought about the birth of the department of veteran affairs. Have each and every staff member, employee visiting or not, answer these question, every day. Before they clock in for there shift. You have to read and answer All the questions. If not, go home.

  26. Dick Davies    

    This is a great blog! Thank you!

  27. Lawrence L. Stone    

    I have been getting all of my needs handled through the VA at the Medical Center in Madison, WI. for the past 5 years and I wanna say that I have been receiving the best medical care a person could ever ask for.

  28. Chad Syner    

    Why doesn’t the VA give heath care to service-connected disable vets families.

    1. Proud VA employee    

      There is a program called “CHAMPVA” that you should look into. Perhaps your VA isn’t taking new patients currently due to full rolls but it’s worth asking.

  29. Think twice    

    Personally my experiences at the VA namely the North Chicago VAMC has been a nightmare! I read the above statement by the husband and wife that utilize the same VAMC and love the place, good for you. But I encourage everyone to think twice about your healthcare. When you are wrongly dianosed with stage IV cancer by a VA Oncologist and he bases this medical opnion solely on reading a ct scan and not ordering further biopsy’s or other tests to confirm it, and then when he says that he wants to have a pick line installed right away and begin chemotheraphy weekly, without proving that a cancer has returned, and that he will make you comfortable with pain meds until you “pass”. Well if you want this type of care be my guest, as for me and other rational human beings, we seek second opinions rather than a doctor’s hunch about a cancer diagnosis. If I had listened to Dr. Mehta’s opinion at the North Chicago VAMC 4 years ago I would be dead today. Instead I sought another opinion based on science, had surgery and am currently in remission. I did follow my new onclogist’s advice which was to never under any circumstances see another VA oncologist at the VAMC North Chicago. I would just clearly say that without a doubt that the VA’s quality of care and standards are not the same as the civilian sector, but this is based on my experiences and those of my sister who is another veteran. I also believe that if you have only a couple of minor health issues rather than having many complex issues your experiences will be different. In my case I need to see many specialist’s because of the cancer and susiquent side effects from the treatments. If a person is in general good health then there viewpoint could be completely differnt. One thing else, trying to get an appointment is a disaster as well, I thought that if you wer rated at 50% or greater then you were supposed to take priority over other vets that are not? The North Chicago VMAC doesn’t seem to follow this system, as I am instructed to have follow-up appointments and yet it’s nuts.

    1. Jim Doran    

      I used to be a veteran service officer in McHenry County. I worked very heavily with VAMC North Chicago and found it to be an extremely well run and profesional facility, but that was 7 years ago. At that time all of the Oncology patients were referred to VAMC Milwaukee. Their Oncology Department was top of the line.
      If you get a bad doc, don’t blame, VA blame the doc. You can always file a compl;aint with the Chief of Staff or the Hospital Director (Pat Sullivan?) through the hospital ombudsman.

      1. Eric Roberts    

        Go to the patient advocate. I know Tom Grieco (sorry if I spelled your name wrong Tom) at Hines in west suburban Chicago does a great jhob and has helped to solve most of the issues I have had with my any issues I have had.

      2. Think Twice    

        Here’s the classic attitude by you Jim Doran as to why the VA does not improve and is not improving when the treatment of our veterans is concerned “If you get a bad doc, don’t blame, VA blame the doc.” When is the VA then to held accountable? Is there not a system in place with checks and balances to hire qualified doctor’s? Apparently not for you Jim Doran as you would have it, the VA has no liability or responsibility to screen first class, top notch doctor’s, to hire the very best qualified? As in this particular case the Doctor had been dismissed from his previous practice by his fellow physicians’ who called his diagnostic skills and methodology into question due to several complaints registered by other patients as well as observations, complaints and scrutiny by fellow Oncologists in that current practice. So he is asked to resign from this practice due to incompetence and leaves for the mutual benefit of all parties involved, then he gets hired by another practice with lower standards. This then leads this same doctor to apply and be accepted by the VA, who obviously didn’t look farther into this doctor’s past beyond his current practice, as the VA’s standard in this case clearly was, does the doctor have a current valid medical license? Yet you find this acceptable Jim Doran? So if your child or grandchild is then treated by a doctor such as this, then you would not demand to have the best possible care, if the VA screened this doctor and he had your family member’s life was in his hands then it is perfectly acceptable to you that the VA has no responsibility or liability in the hiring of this doctor? In your mind it is acceptable to hire less qualified physician’s? Jim Doran I blame both the Doctor and the VA!! I blame the VA first and foremost because they were negligent in hiring a doctor that was and is a second rate professional! You can have your entire family and friends be seen by “C or B” medical students, but as for all of us other veterans we demand and are entitled to be treated by the very best medical professionals that our country has to offer, if you think and accept anything less then you surely are part of the problem with the entire VA Healthcare system. As far as filing a complaint Jim Doran, my wife and I did both with the VA as well as with the State Medical Board. This is where further information then comes to light and you find out that the VA’s screening process to hire and recruit medical professionals is so poor. Yet once again there is no accountability with the VA, as the people that recruit, screen and hire these professionals are still in place! Perhaps the VA employee that gave the final approval to hire this doctor was made aware of the complaints by both patients and fellow doctor’s, yet this person had a billet or quota to fill a need for an Oncologist at the VAMC North Chicago? The attitude that somebody is better than nobody can and does cost lives, yet you find this acceptable Jim Doran still blame only the doctor right? So if your spouse is treated by an Oncologist such as this and God forbid it costs her life, well then it’s just the individual doctor’s fault, it’s the luck of the draw right Jim Doran? This would be acceptable to you, blame the doctor right, the VA has no responsibility right? If you do not hold the VA to higher standards, then higher standards will never be achieved Jim Doran. Part of this entire VA nightmare is with people such as yourself who feel that it is acceptable to pass the blame Jim Doran, rather than to hold all parties involved beginning with the VA who hired this quack as well as the doctor himself. I myself am to blame as I was foolish enough to blindly be seen by this doctor without checking him out ahead of time, by looking into his reputation, by making a few phone calls, investigating. But my point being here, is to pass on and make aware to other veterans that they should be empowered to make sure that they have earned the right and demand to have the very best healthcare available! The VA spends millions of dollars in advertising to inform us veterans that they are a first class organization, so that is where their standards should be held to. Veterans are entitled to second and third opinions, and not just from another VA physician, but by physicians outside the VA healthcare system. In fact in my case, I went back to my civilian Oncologist who referred me to a Surgical Oncologist who is renowned in the Chicago area, this doctor who performed my surgery and guess what Jim Doran, he volunteers and is employed by Hines VA hospital and donates his time and knowledge, yet he is one of the very best in the state and perhaps the Midwest. This same surgeon conducted my surgery at Loyola University Medical Center where he has his practice. This doctor asked me if I wanted to have the surgery and follow up care at Hines VAMC? After I relayed my experiences with this doctor at VAMC North Chicago he totally understood as to why I would not allow one doctor to treat me at a VAMC. So please don’t tell me and other veterans that the very best is not available in the VA healthcare system, it’s there. But don’t continue to contribute to the VA Healthcare problem by saying that the VA is not to be held accountable for the very employee’s that they recruit, screen and hire, by saying that “If you get a bad doc, don’t blame, VA blame the doc.” Both the doctor’s and the Veterans Administration are and should be held to higher standards and are both accountable. We need to get rid of these quacks at the VA wherever they are. Each and every veteran, their spouses and family members that walk through every VAMC or clinic, every day of the year are entitled to and demand to have the very best treatment available that our country has to offer, we have paid the price to receive this. It is part of the public and military trust, we want to be ensured that when we are treated that we are being treated by the very best, not by second rate professionals from second rate medical schools who have been awarded their Medical Degree’s just because they passed the minimum curriculum and have demonstrated the basic knowledge in the practice of medicine. This is not acceptable to me other veterans and should not be accepted by you either Jim Doran, so don’t become part of the problem Jim Doran, become part of the solution and demand that the VA be held to the highest standards that it advertises.

  30. Ben Sawbridge    

    A 70% service connected vet recently went into the Palm Desert Clinic. The young lady behind the desk explained they work by appointments. She gave him a map and the local 909 phone number for the VA Medical Center Loma Linda. The individual was a little confused. I asked the gentleman for his map and waited for the young lady to get off the phone and asked for the 800 number for the Loma Linda VA hospital. The map showing how to get to the VA Hospital should have the 800 number also on it.Just a suggestion.How does it the VA health care system say you’re traveling and need medical help and you’re not in home state?

  31. Jim Doran    

    I’m a service officer. I have a WWII Marine who’s income is to high to qualify him for VA Health Care. He received the Purple Heart at Iwo Jima, no certificate just the medal. VAMC Beckley will not treat him, and Atlanta concurs, because his USMC Discharge does not say Purple Heart. It says Wounded in Action, Iwo Jima, 25 Feb 45.

    1. Nancy Martin    

      Freaking Unbelievable!!
      No, totally believable, unfortunately.

    2. Eric Roberts    

      Doesn’t that go hand in hand? Isn’t one awarded a purple heart if they are wounded in action? Would there be a reason you wouldn’t get awarded a purple heart if you were wounded in action?

      1. Mel    

        Eric, yes. To receive a PH, they must have been wounded by or as a direct result of enemy fire/action. If someone was wounded in action say, by friendly fire or an accident in theater, they would not likely receive a PH, although they were still technically wounded in action.

  32. Nancy Martin    

    Salisbury VAMC (NC). I have had good and outstanding care at times. However, I have also had a recent ER experience that was so bad, I wouldn’t believe the story if I hadn’t been the one subjected to it. I don’t think there was a VA Patient Right that wasn’t violated by the pathetic performance of the MD. The only reason I got anything pain was the nurse’s intercession, but even he folded like a lawn chair when I filed my complaint about the experience. I had re-herniated a recent discectomy, went the 45 miles to the VA ER, spent 5 hours there, got a diagnosis of a blood clot, and nobody would acknowledge or speak to me about an MRI. The doctor (and supported by the ER COS) stated that “my symptoms exceeded my condition” regarding my pain complaint. That was before exam. After the fact, he still supported the “30 years of clinical judgement.” I’d like to know how I was supposed to be acting with a nerve root trapped in the foramen over a ligament by a piece of fragmented disc!
    I’d now like to use some profanity, but I think most of you can figure it out. There is/was NO EXCUSE for what happened to me that day in the ER. Likewise, there is no excuse for fee basis denying the MRI I had done locally after being refused treatment at the VA. You can figure out their response too. Everybody is covering everybody’s butt.
    This particular group of people have demonstrated NO professional integrity as far as I’m concerned. But it isn’t everybody. And maybe if I wasn’t female with psych. diagnoses the male Indian physician might have treated me better. We’ll never know.

  33. Marian Rodgers    

    I’ve known 2 military retirees who refuse to be vested here because they “know” they will lose Tricare eligibility and/or have their pensions cut! Since this is from 2 sources, this must not be an uncommon perception.

  34. Fred Gilmer    

    I am 63 years old, veteran of the Viet Nam era, and served in Southeast Asia. Now, I am disabled, not serviced connected, retired, and living in a senior citizen retirement facility. My “only” source of income is my social security disability benefits. My only source of medical care is from the VA. Until now I have been treated very fairly. Suddenly, the VA has reassessed my eligibilily and charged me, retroactively, for co-pays dating back to July of last year. There is no way I can pay this sudden and unexpected bill. but have been threatened with garnishment of my SS disability benefits if I don’t pay up. Yet, I have no recourse.

    1. brenda hayes    

      ALEX /AGAIN, I got the CAPTCHA CODE ERROR!!! Good thing I save my posts!!!
      PLEASE FIX!!

      Fred,

      I have seen on other grassroots Veteran organization sites that “overpayment”, and I would think you circumstances would fall in that category, that the Veteran can request/appeal repayment due to financial hardship.

      Not sure where to send you; which is part of the problem.

      Again, a VA Ombudsman Program could really be effective. On this Blog site; some people volunteer to assist and others go without a reply; not sure what the SOP really is about replying to Vets/Family members about thier prolems, etc; maybe Brandon could provide some input as to this question about VP team “replying to posts”.

      Some Vet Organization Service Officers are better and more knowledgeable than others. There are even some SO’s on those sites.

      Query Vet websites such as http://www.hadit.com; http://www.VAWatchdogToday.com; http://www.VeteransBenefits@ezboard.com; most of us have had to seek information outside the VA for accurate and timely assistance.

      It seems to be part of the VA problem that needs to be fixed!

      I don’t think the VA 800# gives information out such as this; and I understand it, the 800# is manned by claims raters on a revolving basis.

      BH
      Vetwife Advocate

  35. Tony L    

    I have been to four VA clinics. the worest place you can go is Clevland, OH. Pain managment the head of that clinic is a quick, he lies all the time. And if you go to the VA Rep they say to bad fpr you, he is the head of the clinic.

    1. Eric Roberts    

      Talk to the Patient Advocate Tony…if you get told that by the patient Advocate, file a complaint with the VA Inspector General’s office.

  36. John H.    

    I have been using the VA exclusively for more than 18 years, primarily in Nashville, TN. However, during those years, I lived in New Orleans and Birmingham for a year each. There were times when I resented the wait times, but they were never truly excessive. I had several surgeries during those years and will tell you that from my point of view, the good far out ways the bad. I have spoken to a number of veterans with similar experiences, however a few were not so positive.

  37. wayne schatzle    

    at the dayton and cincinnati VA hospitals the cry is understaffed and overbooked- yet the VA is still trying to get more vets signed up for hospitalization, like activating the cat 8 vets and expanding the AO illnesses. are there opposing offices at war- or is obama trying to run the VA into the ground

    1. Eric Roberts    

      I will second you on that Wayne. I was in SE Indiana for the past 4 months and have had to use the Cincinnati VAMC for my care (using that term REAL loosely) The care there sucked monkey butt They were significantly understaffed (one doc in the ER in a major city? And when they got behind because of a rush of ambulance patients, they didn’t bother to call in extra docs for help…even though they can do that. Instead, people wait int he waiting room for 6+hours. Now as a former medic, I would expect to be court martialed if I had treated my patients like that.
      I wouldn’t blame this on Obama though…there have been significant budget increases and improvemnets to the VA since he has been in office…something that cannot be said about his predecessor who significantly cut the budget.

  38. David Liles    

    I read all the comments and there is always room for improvement for Healthcare both VA and private. If an individual looked around you wouldn’t have to look very hard to hear/find horror stories about pivate healthcare as well. VA Longbeach has taken very good care of me!

  39. michael banks    

    First off,let me start by saying that my experience has been one of satisfaction. I’m not here to criticize the VA- afterall, the VA has assisted in saving my life. Yes we as humans, have a tendency to focus on imperfections instead of extracting the positive, out of situations. And I, too, have to wait on a decision for benefits, almost a year now however, that doesn’t give me repudiation-rights toward the VA. Bottom-line, I don’t personally, know anyone else’s experience(s)but I do know that, I’ve been treated quite well and respectfully, by the staff and employees at the VA in Charleston, SC Thank you, and God, bless the USA AND VA

  40. Bill Stanley    

    As a viet Nam era Veteran, I was understandibly leary of “Government or Military” type health care. As I was turning 65, I began exploring my medical options since I knew nothing about Medicare. I kept seein a reference to VA health benefits so I checked into it and got my card for VA care. My experience in the Atlanta facility and the Decatur clinic have been nothing short of amazingly good! I am treated with respect and the people really seem to care about my needs. My hat is off to those in these facilities which are taking care of my health care needs and I (for one) am unbelievably impressed with the staff(s) and service. I not longer use “regular” health care, but look to the VA for all of my needs. Sure there are some waits, but I have NEVER been delayed over 20 minutes after my appointment time! Comparing that short wait with a civilian Doctor’s office and it is nothing! Again…thanks from a veteran that appreciates all that has been done for me!

  41. Ansley    

    First of all it is only fair that I identify my self as a VA employee. I read many of the comments here with interest and great concern. Most of the comments that I read seem to relate to unacceptable individual experiences that really should not rise to the level of tarnishing the individual VA hospital. Inappropriate individual staff can create an adverse impression of the quality of care and services at any VA. While the same level of care should be available at any VA you go to, it is realistic to understand that we are dealing with a human element that if not trained appropriately can project the wrong impression about a very good system of healthcare. Sometimes the perceptions and expections are all wrong before a veteran have any contact with the VA because they were educated elsewhere of what they should expect or is entitled to. As a veteran, all my healthcare is received through the VA. I have commercial health insurance and can go anywhere I choose but I choose the VA because of my experices with private care providers. Yes have encountered inappropriate interaction with some staff but I deal with those individual situations without any negative comments about the facility. The way to correct many of the adverse situation you encounter is to follow the complaint system and also get your CVSO involve. Personally I find the VA,not because I am an employee, to be a very excellent healthcare provider. Provide some positive feed back because the negative feed back can do more to hurt than help those uninformed veterans that are seeking care and care they deserve.

  42. inthecorps    

    I don’t qualify for enrollment. Served in the reserves, fullfilled my 6 years obligation, but not qualified for VA healthcare. I wonder if some day they will accept us. At least I feel they should allow me to use the VA healthcare system, and to charge my provider if its all about cost issue. Or at least restrict us for other uses. Example, as an honorable discharged veteran that doesn’t qualify for enrollment in the va healthcare system, they should at least let us use the va for things such as quick diagnosis such as colds, take care of minor cuts, maybe gain cheaper drugs, get shots when needed. I know there are people there that need medical way more than I do and earned it so, however, I pay taxes, am a productive citizen, and willing to allow VA to bill me,or my insurance and and meet the co-pay. Why give me an honorable discharge, then tell me I am not a veteran and cannot use the healthcare system when one day I may need it?

  43. David Rizer    

    The VAMC Regional in Wichita,Ks is in my book 2nd to none. Like any large operation, you have the excellent down to the so-so’s that usually do not last long. Sadly, the VA Admin. side is much less than to be desired. From giving misleading information to giving information that is simply not true, however the veteran is warned, That most of the claims information an required paperwork of proof is the veteran’s obligation. Veteran’s keep hearing about learn what benefits are available, from whom that can be trusted?

  44. David Rizer    

    Question: Probably should not be asking here but here goes: If you are terminated from the VA because you are not able to pay the monthly payment plan does that terminate a claim in process?

  45. peelie    

    I would like to know when PTSD/MST will be considered presumptive in order to fast track claims for the many men and women who suffer in silence daily?

  46. Tom Mann    

    Unfortunately, VA care is uneven at best. I use the Portland, OR VAMC and have had great care and they’ve nearly killed me. Used the DC VAMC and was horrified. My experience is it depends on the clinic and the individual doctor. As a “system” it’s not very good, but you can find individual health providers that are stars.

  47. Jason Kahl    

    Your not going to get it, I begged like a dog for asked everyone there was. No one lifted a finger to help, now its too LATE! I am in a wheel chair because no one gave a crap. I have run into nothing but incompetence and laziness. Abu Grhab and Gitmo have nothing on the VA. I have gotten better care by accident than ever on purpose. VA is a sad soul stealing place of evil people with evil intent.

    Abandon Hope All who enter Here!

  48. James Scott    

    I have to say that the health care at the Waco, TX VA is great. I did have a problem with the administration. I am an OIF veteran and served in a mobilized national guard unit in Bagdad. I was first told that I did not qualify because I was national guard. I get that a lot, and a DD-214 does not always clear that up with them. I WILL SAY, HOWEVER, THAT THE HEALTH CARE IS 1ST RATE!!!!

    1. rev568    

      myth 6: VA Healthcare is here for our veterans

      I guess that is true if you don’t mind traveling 5 hours one way to a VA hospital. Hey I have an idea, why doesnt the va cover its veterans at local hospitals or better yet have extension facilities that we could all use? As it is now, it is simply not worth the time and cost to go to one. So basically everyone in a large city is covered but the rest of us are screwed.

      1. Alex Horton    

        We know a big obstacle to get Veterans care are the long distances they have to travel to a facility. There are 50 Mobile Vet Centers crisscrossing the country to meet the needs of Veterans in remote and rural areas. You mentioned the cost of traveling – you might be eligible for travel reimbursement. Take a look here. It was a big help to me when I received gas money to drive from Austin to San Antonio a few times.

  49. Chris    

    I use the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis MN and personally found it to be great. I had for years after my time in service been in and out of private hospitals for multiple issues and private hospitals it was all about making money with the least bit of effort on their part. However in the VA medical center I was suggested to get evaluated as they suspected my issues were service connected. I had a staff member go a long way helping me and also turned me onto the other VA branches. In the numerous times I have been in I never felt ignored by doctors or nurses which is very common feeling in private industry. The doctors always wanted me to understand fully every detail as long as I was interested while the private industry they ignored me. The only downside there was everytime I was admitted I was surrounded by veterans 2-3 times my age as I was only mid to late 20’s then while the majority were 65+ with a few 50+. However that isn’t the VA’s fault as simply newer disabled vets like me weren’t that common and not needing care in the amount most of the elderly vets needed. Still I can see how some elderly vets think its bad but its again really not the VA Medical Centers at fault but simply a change of times and only so much can be done. I still say to this day the Minneapolis MN VA Medical Center saved my life as w/o them I probably would have given up by now like many other vets have w/o knowing what they can get done for them and manage.

  50. Richard Amores    

    I am service connected, bad heart with a by-pass and pacemaker and I have tring to get an appointment with my Doctor for almost 2 months. This is normal here in Providence,RI VA. I have talked to the Directors office and nothing, Senator Reed and after 4 weeks I finnally called the Senators office and Nov 30 and still no appointment… This is the reality of what goes on in this VA system that everyone say’s is so GREAT.

    It SUCKS

  51. George Hale Jr    

    It sucks that 2 Vets living together do not qualify, because of their combined income. But if they each lived separately, they each would qualify for VA health care.
    Just like the Gulf War Illness cover up, the upper echelon of the VA’s concern for Vets, is only a facade.

    1. Dennis Ray Stuart    

      Injured:
      Well it is just like in the movie, with Steven Stegal: ABOVE THE LAW. At the end of the movie he say’s,”Gentlemen. Anytime you have a group of individual’s with in the law or government. That can manipulate the law, the members of congress or the Goverment. And can control their own press. You will have individual’s that are above the law. To which statement I wonder is the v.a. Lacking . With it’s own cabnet position no less! I also know we have all heard of electronic text editing also!

  52. Why Bother?    

    Ms. Martin my heart really does go out to you! What a horrible experience! It reminds me of a C&P exam where the doctor before my wife and I had even sat down in his office, he stated that my claim was go to be denied. Then this doctor further falsified my official examination report as he didn’t even examine me physically. I reported this to my DAV representative and he said that it was another reason for an appeal. But the point is that this Doctor said that he was a Navy Surgeon for over forty years and that no one including myself or my wife was going to convince him that there was anything wrong with my neck or back (I had injured it when I dove into a swimming pool when I was in the service). When my wife and I then went on to question him he immediately was on the defensive, I asked what about the opinion from all these countless radiologists’ and other physicians? He then stated that he didn’t care what any of their opinions were that he “repaired body’s and that these other doctors are idiots”, that he is a surgeon and that “these doctor’s do not know what they are talking about!” My and my wife’s jaw dropped open, we could not believe the arrogance of this man! Not to sound as I am against senior citizens, however, when this doctor went further on how he remembered examining me before, we both stated to him that I had never been seen by him ever before. My wife and I asked him then about the spinal stenosis, the arthritis, the bulging discs, three of them in my lower back and every disc in my entire neck, as well as degenerative disc disease and on and on. The doctor said that everything here was clearly normal wear and tear, that this is perfectly normal for a male of my age. I said so the emergency room visits, the cortisone shots and the physical therapy as well as the VA wanting to do neck surgery followed by back surgery is just all nonsense then huh? To which he said “yes”. This all took place within a matter of five minutes of entering his office, so where does a veteran go from here? The doctor went further on to say that if I had actually hurt my neck and back and it was so painful why hadn’t I have mountains of medical records to support it? To which I stated that I have done everything that every doctor has ever instructed me to do, when I had the initial injury the VA doctor did an x-ray, said that once you injured your back or neck that they are never the same, that it was definitely injured muscles, said that if I had further pain to take Motrin, which I did for years. That is until I began to continuously loose feeling in my legs and became scared, that’s when I sought help from the VA. This C&P doctor went further on to say that if he had been experiencing that much pain that he would be in the doctor’s office every day, to which I said well if I encountered doctor’s like you that said that it was just musculature every time that I went in, what am I supposed to do but take fist full’s of over the counter pain relievers until the problem became where I needed help walking and used my hands to raise my neck and head. My wife said that all of these things as other doctor’s have stated on their reports are clearly indicative of a prior injury such as localized arthritis and so on, to which the C&P doctor agreed finally. So common sense says that if I have only medical records from the initial injury then obviously this only occurred while I was in the service, to which the doctor said he wasn’t going to further debate my wife and I, that he was going to write all over his report that my military service has nothing to do with it. My wife and I have never been so insulted and been so attacked without provocation by a doctor anywhere ever! Yet this is the treatment veterans’ receive at the VAMC North Chicago, IL C&P Unit by a Dr. Mooga. After the fact I was informed to file a complaint with the Patient Advocate, but you know I figure why bother, what’s the point, I am tired and don’t have the energy to fight this arrogance and bureaucracy.

  53. Herman    

    Twice I had a doctor at the local clinic tell me that she didn’t have time to listen to all my problems. After I told another doctor about it, I never seen the first doctor again.

  54. Tom Terrill    

    I can only comment on care received at Central Arkansas VA Center in Little Rock, Arkansas and the VAMC at Fayetteville, Arkansas. I have received excellent care at both and am on first name basis with most of the staff at Fayetteville. And besides , some of the ( female ) staff is so damn cute , or I am a dirty old man one tother .

  55. Mary    

    The VA hospital in Atlanta Georgia has changed tremendously. The doctors are now hired from Emory University Hospital one of the best for heart patients in Atlanta. The Customer Service action of the veteran nurses and attendance are helpful and now courteous. The doctors visits are faster and the wait time has been reduced by more than 50%. Maybe the other VA hospital can take notes from the Atlanta VA Hospital off Clairmont in Georgia. As a matter of fact due to no health insurance my husband was force to be taken to the VA emergency room, who rushed him into ICU and the Emory doctors saved his life, he was having a heart attack, they quickly used stents and he was able to walk out in two days. I say this VA hospital has improved 100% and the director should be sent to all the VA hospitals that are still having issues.

  56. Jamie    

    Are spouses eligible for CHAMPVA???

    1. Alex Horton    

      Jamie, there are qualifying conditions for spouse eligibility for CHAMPVA. Go to the link for more information, but I believe this answers your question:

      To be eligible for CHAMPVA, the beneficiary cannot be eligible for TRICARE. CHAMPVA provides coverage to the spouse or widow(er) and to the children of a veteran who:

      -is rated permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or

      -was rated permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected condition at the time of death, or

      -died of a service-connected disability, or

      -died on active duty and the dependents are not otherwise eligible for DoD TRICARE benefits.

      1. brenda hayes    

        Alex,

        Can you tell me why HAMPVA covered spouses/widows are not required to pay their CHAMPVA health insurance and spouses/widows of retired Veterans have to pay for their Tricare healthcare plan?

        One of those questions, you just don’t know who to ask to get a REAL answer!

        Thanks,

        BH, Vetwife Advocate

  57. Ernest Poulin    

    Jim, you are right about much of the VHA system, having doctors and nurses that wish to help us, BUT treatment is not ONLY dictated by the wants and needs of the individual patient. There are some VA Medical Centers and VBA personnel, staffed with clerks and other types who are clearly working at the VA for their kush government job and paycheck. It’s unfortunate, and it gives the rest a bad name.

    Go, for example, to the West Los Angeles VAMC and do a random survey of patients, or just walk around and ask for services from the clerks in the different departments and see if you feel like a substandard human being or a proud and satisfied veteran patient. File a claim with the VBA in Los Angeles then try to go in to the front desk in the Federal Building, 5th floor, and ask to get a veterans counselor to let you know what’s up with your claim. Watch the supervisors stand and talk by the water cooler for an hour and 1/2, instead of supervising, while you sit and wait for anyone to help you. These are not all my stories, but a mix of those from different veterans I have known in this system. And yes, I’ve experienced the same at West LA.

    It is interesting how much more compassionate and pro-active some clinics tend to be than others. For example, the Sepulveda clinic in the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley has, to a larger extent, a much kinder health care provider group, regardless of the work load.

    It is a shame that the caliber of those hired, from certain neighborhoods or employee demographics, lacks common sense or caring for those outside their limited groups, when in fact we should all be considered family. The fact that supervision would give the employee the benefit of the doubt, rather than reprimand or even retrain, is unconscionable. They want us to just give up. This is not private sector insurance. We are men & women who served our country honorably. We deserve the compassion we are entitled to, and employees trained to give that compassion; regardless of the stressful work conditions. They can go to their own therapists to deal with the stress.

    Yes each individual has their own wants and needs, and yes each individual can respond differently. That goes for patient and caregiver alike. And in the case of the healthcare professionals, they are paid, and God willing trained, to be able to respond rationally, calmly and compassionately whether the patient does or doesn’t. Punishing the individual veteran patient over a lack of patience or knowledge of VA procedures and law, is unconscionable. Pain does not bring with it much rational thought. An employee’s paycheck should be held accountable for their selfishness. If they can’t handle the heat and help each patient like a member of their own family, they should find other employment, with a less caring family.

    1. Ernest Poulin    

      That was a reply to Jim Washok’s 19 November 2010 posting above. The confirmation image was reset and it ended up posting down here instead of as a reply below his message.

  58. Sheldon Barber    

    My nephew says that when he was disharged from the Air Force that President Reagan had stopped elegibilityfor vetereans to receive health care. He insists that to this day he is ineligible for medical care even though he was discharge under honorable condditioiins. Rigt now he is receiving a small amount of Social Security and can barelymeet his monthly obligations let alone see a doctor.

    Is there any truth to the rumor that Presiden Reagan stopped our returning vets from receiving VA benefits? m I would like to get him enrolled in the system if at all apossible.

    Thank you for yur help with this matter.

  59. Bruce Wright    

    Why is it so hard to keep getting your meds/battiers when you are on a automatic mailing. I moved from one state to another. The VA in Texas WILL NOT see me until I bring in all my medical information to be reviewed. I have been a disable vet in the system since the early 1990’s so why? Why do I have to pull teeth to get my meds?

  60. Ped Egg    

    I spent a while in your website and find a lot of useful information. I’m quite impressed with the way you present your views and ideas. I’ve added you to my firefox bookmarks and will come back for updates regularly. Thanks! 🙂

  61. FatCow    

    It helped me big time. over-delivered, full-packed with valuable resources and seasoned/timeless information as well.

  62. arleen    

    I was activatedd for 2 years in support of OEF but was not in a war zone and when I went to the VA I was told I did not qualify for care. Unlike soldiers who were in the war zone who qualify for 5 years is this true?

  63. Sheldon Barber    

    Several weeks ago (December 22, 2010) I posted a question about 1968 discharges and the possibility the President Regan had disallowed VA treatment for thesse Vets. To Date no answer or reaction. Can any6one help me get my nephew settled with the VA?

  64. SSG B    

    I am an OIF (08/09) Veteran still on Active Duty (Army NG) in the Wounded Warrior program. I am waiting on MEB. I recently read about Depleted Uranium Poisoning and I see that I have at last about 90% of these symptoms. I won’t get into it too much but also TBI and Spinal injuries. Anyway, I already did my C&P and in CBWTU waiting for MEB/PEB. I can barely manage – ah never mind. Anyway, I think that I have DUP. I have been told numerous times that they do not know why I have the problems I am having and/or I cannot have these problems, or conflicitng diagnosis, etc , etc…
    I do not think the VA doctor or any other doctor’s have connected my problems with the possibility of DUP. If my COC will not approve testing for this does anyone know how to get this tested? Where? I think the VA has not made a decidiscion yet (Still AD and not discharged yet etc no DD214 ). Tric-Care Prime Remote.
    Can I ask the VA to screen me for DUP at this time? Or do I have to wait until I discharged (DD214) Just confused… Can I contact a VA Servic Officer and will they help me figure out things yet? Tired of fighting SSD and doctor’s and COC etc by myself I guese and just trying to make it throuh this crazy process…

  65. Trevor B    

    I have had poor service and have been told to put up with it by several employees at my local VA. There are good and bad VA centers out there. There are good and bad VA employees out there. The problem I have is when there is a bad employee or bad VA center nothing is done about it. I had a Patient Advocate yell at me in the business office of a clinic in front of patients, VA employees for me simply asking him two questions to have him look into a referral that was in for months. that was over a month ago and no one from the VA will return my phone call on the matter and I now do not know where to go when I have a future problem with my care. I will not go back to someone who yelled at me because I simply asked them to check on a referral that my doctor put in that even my own doctor could not get anyone to answer him on. I have had poor care in the VA system and no one has stepped up to help change it. I have tried to do what I thought was right and tell the people that would be able to help. But no one will. What do you do then? I have tried and tried to find someone to help me get better care, not just complain, I have also offered solutions. If you want to help let me know. I need someone that cares.

    1. Trevor B    

      I created an email if you want to help. help4vets@ymail.com. Thank you for anyone that cares.

  66. Susan Hawkins    

    I am a retired veteran and currently have a 10% disability rating but have appealed another decision to the VA for a higher rating. My question is I went to the Hampton VA center for mental health treatment related to MST and was told I have depression due to events that happened to me in the military. I wanted to seek more treatment, but because the VA is 85 miles one way from my house I can’t afford the trip. I was under the impression that I would receive milage re-imbursement for mental health visits, but I found out that this isn’t true. So, veterans that are in remote areas are just screwed trying to get health care from the VA. Why can’t more be done to help veterans like myself who are so far from a VA center?

  67. charles hall    

    Im a honorably discharged united states marine. Im 30 percent disabled and Im happy for it because its my only means of income. The problem isnt the V.A. hospital. Its the people. We live in a the usa. That use to mean something not any more. Our kids r rude under educated and out of control. People have realized its easier to take a hand out instead of actually doing work to get a paycheck. Mommys and Daddys r too busy making sure little tommy or suzy makes it through college to even focus on the main issue. Should there little ones even go to college without first being disciplined enough to even get through the classes while remaining responsible enough to even learn anything useful enough to take care of the people that have taken care of them for so many years.
    The positon of a doctor is to advocate for there patient but kids with no disapline or no honor r not going to stand up for there patients let alone have respect for the people that have served in foreign wars putting there lifes in harms way and i say kids because 90 percent of the doctors that treat me r younger than me at the va.
    We as vetrans r not asking for speacal treatment. We r not asking for anything. We served and did it proudly or most of us did. I would just like to be able to go to a doctors appointment early and get in on time. That never happens i always wait at least a hour after my appointment time. Also i would like proper pain management and if the doctors dont feel comfortable then refer me to someone that is comfortable. I have a chronic deasease that cause pain and im unable to get proper pain management unless I get admitted.
    I aslo would like to feel like what i did for my country was useful. Not just
    something to seed the growth of a uneducated, spoiled, me soicety. Thats more interested in possesion, money, greed , and power.

  68. Echo235    

    The absence of civil discourse in the racist and sexist comments made are deplorable. As for labor unions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the United Nations and supported by the United States, asserts that, “Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”

  69. Greg    

    I can say that I received good treatment at the Orlando VA while living in FL. My complaint with the VA system is the disability system. I retired after 20 years. I’ve tried getting my disability increased and have not been able to. When I went through the agency I was told by a VA employee that it was very strange I only had 20% disability after serving 20 years. I agree. A friend of mine is drawing almost 60% and he only spent 10 yrs or so in the AF, and has many of the same health issues. The disability system is not even across all services from my experience. I’ve even drove all the way from AL to Orlando for a physical while trying to get it increased, only to have the VA tell me they find no reason to increase it. I guess the fact that I have to take Hydrocodone-APAP to relieve my back pain is normal? Well according to the VA I guess it is. Kinda makes me sick to see someone draw 50% more than me for the same issues, and I served almost twice as long…

  70. John C. Carracher, Psy.D.    

    “Five Myths About VA Health Care Eligibility”? … Huh?

    What are considered to be “myths” today were once “facts”.

    Likewise, today’s “facts” will most likely be tommorrow’s “myths”.

    “This VA gives good service … that VA does not”.

    “This VA used to give bad service but now it has improved and now gives good service.”

    I read here that we should dismiss negative comments and check things out for ourselves.

    The reverse should also be advised … dismiss positive comments and check things out for ourselves.

    The VA is an unstable, inconsistent, unpredictable organization. It is a popular political football that Congress seems to like kicking around when it so chooses.

    I have never seen an organization with morals and souls. These elements only exist within the people who operate the organization and those who receive the service.

    The VA seems to be in perpetual turmoil for a variety of reasons. When folks in need of an organization’s consistency and stability are subjected to unstable conditions there is victimization. People get hurt.

    It seems to me that since myths and facts change over time (sometimes for no good reason) … and across people … we all need to remain skeptical about what is fact and what is fiction each and everyday-especially within an unstable organizational climate …

    Caveat Emptor everybody

  71. William    

    I was seen during the 1980′s at a vet center for PTSD related to my service as a corpsman. I declared eligible because I served during Grenada, not in the area of hostilities, although I did play a small part, with a group that suffered severe casualties during the actual operation.

    My PTSD is related to this and several non combat operations I participated in.

    Recently I suffered a relapse, and when I went to a vet center I was turned away.

    This occurred even though several other vet centers have told me that once eligible and provided service, you are always eligible.

    What are the facts and where can I verify them?

    Also, I have a rating of 80% and individual unemployability. My last exam stated that I was permanantly and totally disabled…what does that mean?

  72. Jennifer Sersaw    

    I wish I could say the VA medical system was great, but for us it is a huge nightmare. To make a long story short, the VA in Atlanta almost killed my husband when they prescribed two dangerous meds at the same time. He has severe problems with his back. It took an Emory doctor who happened to be working the VA ER one day to force the VA to run tests for ankylosing spondylitis. The blood work and MRI confirmed it. Back before he was medically discharged, the army suspected that may be the cause of his back problem. He is only 37 right now, and he was discharged in 2001. Now the VA will not let him see specialists or give the right meds. They say although he has signs of the condition, his spoke is not curved enough yet to qualify to see the rheumatologist. It is a nightmare medically. He lives in pain and the VA won’t help. Now his PCP wants to run a test for lupus. He does not have lupus. He has AS! The doctor who the VA had do his disability exam for an increase in compensation even said it is definitely AS. These Atlanta VA doctors have no clue what they are doing and it leaves veterans and their families hurting.

    1. George    

      Jennifer–my brother and uncles developed AS and my younger daughter developed rheumatoid arthritis at a very young age. All of this must be genetic for us as diseases are related. And it was the blood work that gave them a clue as to the RA they started measuring her spine and the angle as they though she could have AS as well from the blood work. The men never got proper treatment and things don’t get better. Only thing my brother got was anti inflammatories. The only docs who know how to treat this so that there is no more damage are rheumatologists. With my daughters RA, they started prescribing drugs to slow the damage in addition to controlling the symptoms. Hope your husband has been able to get to see one. If not, I’d contact your congressional office. Because what their telling you is bull Wait for it to get worse?

      1. George    

        Also meant to say that the drug that stopped daughter’s RA in it’s tracks was remiicade which can be effective for AS. Too late for my brother. Am a vet and was stationed at benning for a while. Though drug leaves you open for infections. Good luck

  73. Rob McCubbins    

    I am just trying to find out how to apply for temporary 100% while I undergo reconstruction surgery at the VA.

  74. UPSET    

    The Bay Pines VAMC is better than the one in Palo Alto, but it still has A LOT TO BE DESIRED. I am 100% disabled and the last time I had to go to the ER there I was treated horrible! My wife was not allowed to come back to the room where I was even though I wanted her there. When I went to find out why she was not coming back to be with me the door slammed shut as I was going back to the room and I walked into it. They called security and I was forced to leave. I was there for a migraine and the dr refused to give me the treatment that would work, he would only give me what has never work even after I told him that it has never worked for my condition. The ER drs there seem to think that they are gods and they are the only ones that know how to treat you, it doesn’t matter if you have been having migraines before they were out of diapers. On another occasion I missed a dentist appointment because I was out of the state and had no idea I even had the appointment, so now I was told I don’t have dental privileges any more. I only go to the Bay Pines VAMC when I have nowhere else to go, my wife works for Manatee Memorial Hospital and I use that insurance when I have to go to the ER and go to one of the local hospitals for two reasons one because of how I have been treated in that ER and the other is because it is totally stupid to expect me to drive 45 mins and sit for an hour or more in pain. The only good Dr I have seen at Bay Pines is my PCP and he is so over worked that it is hard to get in to see him. For the most part the whole VA health care has got to be fixed.

  75. Pongo    

    for anyone wanting to file requests for benefits, there is a new, electronic method at http://www.ebenefits.va.gov. One can even go to a VA regional office and obtain a special login which allows the veteran to track his or her claim. Temporary 100% claims (paragraph 29/20) are included.

  76. Greg Deals    

    Thanks for that link pongo! Didn’t know you could request benefits electronically!

  77. Rory R Jones    

    What % is required for making non payments for co-pays? And can you get any co-pays dollars back?

  78. john    

    where can i find out what i am eligible for in priority group 2

    1. dottie carlson    

      as a vet I have coverahe. I use my primary and other dr’s with my insurance. get my audio and visual and scripts from VA. is my husband who is not a veteran (but, who is 81 yrs old on medicare and supplemental ) eligible for audio or visual coverage? thnx for the assist

  79. George    

    Oh and also meant to say and didn’t was that the drug that finally worked for her to stop the disease in it’s tracks was a drug called remicade. One doc did say she had a spondyloarthropathy but any damage was from that was halted with earler drugs. And see that’s a treatment for AS as well. too late for my brother. The damage was done. Good luck. From a vet. Was stationed at Benning for a while. Drug though does leave you open to infections.

  80. Sue    

    My husband was just approved for 10% disability. We were wondering if I would be eligible for tricare? I have read everything and either it’s not clear or I’m just not getting it. Can anyone say “Yes” or “No”? Thanks, Sue

  81. Jenny Taylor    

    Some great information listed here. Hopefully people can get the necessary care they need by following your tips.

  82. Cherie    

    I recently moved from Illinois back home to central Mississippi. i had a job in Illinois helping the veterans by driving them to and from their appointments and in my spare time i volunteered at the VA nursing home and hospital . my question is is there a service like this transporting patients to and from their appointments in Mississippi, Alabama, or Louisiana? thank you , Cherie

  83. Kathy    

    Could anyone please tell me who to contact? I was separated and rated 20%. That was 3 years ago. Since then, I’ve been seeing a doc almost every month for gastro and back issues. It’s affecting my home life as well as schooling. No one I’ve called has a simple answer. If someone here has any information, I would truly be grateful!
    Thank you

  84. Jed    

    So ibeen out for six months, I was supposed to be MEB but the great people of ft stewart ga took their time after the doc sent in the paper work and lo and behold my ets day came and I ETSED. Been unable to get a job because of a combat deployment related injurie ( bad injurie lost two inches of height) I’ve Ben waiting for them to tell me I’m eligible for gi bill… And I can’t get a job because hell it’s hurts like hell to even lift my thirty pound son. Any advice? Jzampedri@gmail.com

  85. Stewart James    

    I have a friend who served one year in Vietnam. He filed for PTSD one year ago because a vet said it was easy to get. He chose not to work his entire adult life, he used weed but his preference is to drink; he is an alcoholic. He loves to party but doesn’t like to work. He got 4 DUIs in the past and served 6 months in prison and 6 months in a halfway house. He receives $365 a month in social security because he never wanted to work as an adult. He purchased a home in 1970s for $1 and had boarders who paid rent. He bought and sold antiques to make money. He said when he filed for PTSD he was coached on what to say to get disability. He was awarded 100% disability. He also received $35k backpay for the year that he filed. Does this man deserve 100% disability? He does not have a missing body part. His claim was for something that happened over 40 years ago. He doesn’t have to attend therapy and doesn’t have to report anywhere to ‘get better’. Does he deserve this amount tax free for the remainder of his life. He says it was like winning the lottery. He also receives benefits like no property taxes, doesn’t have to pay for a driver’s license all because he is 100% disabled. He can fly anwhere for $50 on military standby. Does this seem fair? And, why is this permanent. And, people say the government is wasteful and too big. The military budgets are too big for this nonsense being handed out. On a temporary basis I can see this welfare …but not help, no requirements, just a gov’t handout each month for doing nothing–it isn’t right.

    1. derek riggers    

      You sound more like a shill for the VAs ongoing negativity toward combat vets with mental/social dysfunctions. The VA has malingerers as do all disability programs, but don’t paint them all with a wide brush. If you harbor so much resentment toward your ‘friend’ why not report him to the VA fraud section ? Moral indignation is jealousy wearing a halo. Snivelers dial 1-800-Waaaaah !

  86. david    

    I need to know how to get medical benefits. i served 1 year 9 months and 12 days and got out on a general under honorable conditions. reason is i was 18 and got popped for underage drinking 2wice. im not trying to screw the system or get money etc. i just need medical care. i went in for my knee ( i tore my meniscus training) and they said i was eligible and saw me and set up appointments got xrays all sorts of stuff. then a month later they tell me im not eligible and that i can no longer get any medical care. my job requires me to be able to run etc. how can i get back to being eligible for benefits? they told me i was and saw me and now my knee is a pre-existing condition if i try to get it done anywhere else soo im kinda screwed unless i get back eligibility from the VA. Please if anyone can help it would be greatly appreciated. thanks in advance oh yeah and i got out in january 2003

    1. Kate Hoit    

      Hey David,

      Here is some information on eligibility: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/apply/veterans.asp See if this helps at all.

  87. James Jenkins    

    I have found that the William G.”Bill “Hefner VAMC in Salisbury,N.C.employee ratio is at least 80% black if not more,many of whom haven’t a clue as to what their positions include.I have actually stood in front of their little cubical upon arriving for a scheduled appointment while their total concentration was focused on either reading the comic section of the newspaper or on one occaision,playing connect the dots on a piece of government stationery.When that individual finally noticed me watching him,his excuse was “I’m just bored”-to which I responded,”If you are so bored,why not do your damn job and sign me in to see the doctor!” I think most of them are just taking up space where some fresh air ought to be.Granted,there are those who well deserve recognition for the efforts made to insure quality care to the veteran,but certainly not all of them.I have witnessed a white “Dentist” at this same hospital insult an elderly black veteran because he apparently had poor dental hygiene.I lay there beside this old gentleman with nothing between us but a curtain and heard him lash out the comment,”Haven’t you ever brushed your god damn teeth?Your mouth looks like a septic tank!” I told the assistant,”I wish he would cuss me like that when he comes in here with me! and I said it loud enough for him to hear it abundantly clear.Honestly there needs to be some form of weeding these street people they hire in these Veterans Hospitals

  88. Paul Pelletier    

    I see nothing about eligibility for benefits with a Other than Honorable discharge. In all my reading on the VA’s OWN website and in Title 38 USC Sec. 101 (2), it clearly states that a prior service member be “discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable”. Clearly, this means all other discharges are eligible. Yet I am denied service at my VA hospital (Iowa City, IA) for injuries documented to have come through Theater Ops in Iraq. Why? Why is this policy arbitrary? Please respond to my e-mail directly. Thank you.

  89. Casper    

    I have been waiting on my claim for 21 months. I have lost my job, my house, my 401k is gone, I am uneligible for unemployment and was told that I have to pay back a year of unemployment, and the VA doesn’t care. My case is at the Detroit Regional Office where it sits with no signs of being completed. When I call my VSO and the Detroit DAV Office, I am treated abruptly and given the “Be patient” line of crap.

    I have also been waiting since June 2010, to retire from the Army Reserve. I was told that I need a Medical Evaluation Board before I can retire. Now the Army is telling me they are waiting on the VA Rating before I can go to the Board. Where does it all end? I am sick and tired of being told to be patient and I am starting to think the public nor the government give a crap and they are just waiting for me to kill myself.

    I now have about 13 – 14 years of active duty and 17 in the Reserves. I highly discourage anyone from joining the military until they take better care of the Vets. I am ready for a rally at a Recruiting Station to make my plight known.

  90. dan knudson    

    I was refused treatment at the Portland, Oregon VA when I checked in at emergency. The DR. was an imperious little prick who looked like he hated the world. After sitting there for 14 hours, they told me to go up to the cardiac ward and have my pacemaker checked since I was having chest discomfort. The DR. from emergency asked me if I was homeless like he was talking to a bum. I did not bother to tell him I have two purple hearts and get 100% service connected. What I really wanted to do to him is highly illegal. There have been several VA hospitals that I have been treated with the same arrogant attitudes. What is that about anyway ?

  91. Semper pissed    

    I tried to use the Va medical center in Dallas this morning. I was refused service in admissions because I made too much money last year. Does that nullify the fact that I’m a veteran? How much I make doesn’t change the fact that I gave eight years to the Marine Corps and my country. I still can’t afford to get a MRI at a civilian clinic. And yes, the woman in admissions was rude and wanted to send me away for bringing my OMPF (official military personnel file) on a disk instead of having a hard copy. Her race isn’t important to me, but the fact that I was treated like a second class citizen is.

  92. Phyllis Blitz    

    Does anyone in any official VA capacity really read these comments, or are they just a place to vent? My husband, a Vietnam veteran and only in his teens when he was in combat, suffering from an Agent Orange exposure illness, was literally murdered by a nurse and doctor at the VA hospital intensive care unit in Long Beach, California. I witnessed it (they did not know I had entered the unit earlier than expected that day). I am an attorney who has litigated medical malpractice cases and worked on murder cases, so I speak with credibility, however, after consulting with no less than three of my attorney colleagues, I was advised that I do not have the funds personally to file litigation against the government with its endless resources. One of the chief physicians of the Long Beach VA interviewed me at the time and promised there would be a full investigation. I soon after requested a copy of my husband’s medical records and they have been, as expected, altered so as not to reflect the facts of the incident. They have also gotten to the primary care physician who initially was so furious and shocked by this incident because he felt my husband had a good chance of recovery. He has now changed his story to protect his employer and his job. My family and I have to live with the unresolved anger of knowing that our beloved husband/father fought for his country, and his country returned the favor by screwing him over and supplying him with medical personnel who ended his life prematurely. I will be surprised if anyone out there gives a damn and even reads this, let alone follows up.

  93. DocJ    

    As a 70% S/C vet myself, i have this to say about the VA. I believe it depends upon which one you go to. When i was getting out of the service I knew in advance that I was going to need help. So I filed for my VA claim about a month prior to getting out. I am glad I did. Although it was my chain of command that suggested I do so. I am glad that they were looking out for me. I followed the advice I was given.

    Now as much as I hated the QTC appointments, I am glad i followed through with them. It took the VA 6 months to make a determination of 70% in my case. They rejected the PTSD due to and I quote:

    “lack of a high ranking combat award such as a Silver Star”

    Gee. last time I checked Officers were more likely to get awarded Silver Stars than those of us who were NCO’s and Petty Officers. In fact the highest award earned by any enlisted in my old unit (aside from the purple heart- of which there were plenty) was the Combat Action Ribbon or the CAR. While our Marines were given the award straight out we Doc’s or “Corpsmen” were told that since we were noncombatants that we did not qualify at the time. Our 1stSgt and Senior Chief both told us to hell with the regulations and paperwork. We earned it just as much as our Marines so go ahead and wear it proudly. To hell with politics.

    The rest of my claim was accepted. As irony would have it, both the psychologist and Counselor at the VA diagnosed me with severe PTSD a month later in spite of what the Regional VA claims adjuster said. Several months later the rating decisions changed and guess what. Now you no longer need a combat specific award to obtain a rating for PTSD. The funny thing is that over 90% of my old unit was diagnosed with PTSD. Hmm. Funny how things work.

    Case in point is this. Yes, while I don’t like how I’ve been treated at times by the VA. Overall I’m deeply greatful to them. I was homeless and couch surfing for the first few months after comming home. The VA has been there for me. They are the sole reason I am not on the streets and am recieving medical care for my 15 plus conditions that are a lasting reminder to me of my time in the service.

    While what I get is barely enough to live on, I won’t complain too much. It is better than being forced to couch surf.

    It is easy to judge an entire barrel of apples by one rotten apple. However I find that it never pays to do so.

    V/r,
    Doc J.

  94. bob wikan    

    I was informed yesterday that I will receive a 10% rating – Tennitis with Severe hearing loss, and am very happy for that. I stumbled upon this site and am in fact quite troubled by many of the comments from “vets” who feel the world owes them everything. I was in the Army from 69 to 72 – joined when I was 17. I used the M14 rifle and was now diagnosed with Tennitus. Having worked for the past 40 years in the healthcare arena I understand how expensive things can be and am very grateful for this award as I lost my job last month and paying for my insurance would have been about $10,000 a year before they would pay then only 80%. Many of the people here whine, complain, berate others when in most cases they should get off their buts and get real. If it is free – why complain??? again I am grateful for anything and yes was angered by others when they got care and I did not – but the woes of the VA are not the their own fault – most of you I am sure vote – and it is those that we elect who fund the VA – the VA has to ration its funds and if you come up on the short end I guess that it the way it is. I am 60 now, and feel strongly that the VA should be for vets only, now kids of vets, nor their spouses as every dollar to them is one less to a vet. I can say this because it was my tax dollars, (never married, no kids) that funds our goverment programs like the VA. To those who use every excuse in the book not to work and expect the VA to take care of you – you amaze me. I have suffered from PTSD symptoms for now 40 years and never used it as a crutch while it screwed up my life – I will be grateful if anything comes from it but with no expectations – in closing if you do not like the VA – go to a regular hospital as they all have programs for those who cannot pay.

    1. Jim    

      Well said! I am enrolled in VA Health Care and receive great service from a caring staff at the Beckley, WV VA Medical Center. Thanks from a Grateful Navy Veteran!

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