Army Veteran credits VA for ease of access, quality of care

Improvement to VA care continues under VA MISSION Act


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Pictured above Army Veteran Scott Fass (left) and Doctor Kristin Forcucci (right).

The words duty, honor, and country have real meaning to Scott Fass and led to his commissioning as a second lieutenant in the United States Army in 1980.

His career was almost cut short two years later when he fell from an armored personnel carrier during a training mission and suffered a severe leg injury. “I was hurt pretty bad,” said Fass. “I had a broken fibula, torn ligaments, and nerve damage. I was just 24 years old and they wanted me to retire,” he recalled.

Through a lengthy rehab process, he was able to remain on active duty.  He went on to serve 25 years in numerous active duty and Army Reserve assignments including in the armored cavalry at Fort Hood, Texas, as a chemical officer in Germany, and a program manager at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

After his retirement in 2005, Fass never worried about health care – he had TRICARE and private health insurance through his employer.  But over the years, his old leg injury got progressively worse. “I suffered nerve damage in my feet and the pain was so bad some days I could barely walk,” he said.

He decided to drop by the Washington, DC, VA Medical Center to see if they could help.  “I didn’t even have an appointment and they still got me in to see a doctor in about ten minutes.”  Doctor Kristin Forcucci was able to treat his neuropathic pain.

My VA doctor called me at home – who does that?

Several days after his appointment, Dr. Forcucci called to see how he was doing.  “I couldn’t believe she was calling me. I mean, who does that?”

Fass is now walking with minimal discomfort and credits Dr. Forcucci for helping him get back on his feet.  He is one of millions of Veterans who are increasingly turning to VA for their health care needs.

Last year, VA completed 58 million appointments – 620,000 more than the previous year.

In recent years, VA ramped up efforts to improve access to care and now offers same-day services for primary care and mental health.

Additionally, Veterans can now directly schedule appointments for mental health, audiology, optometry, podiatry, nutrition, wheelchair, and amputation care clinics without a referral. As a result, today VA is seeing more patients than ever before, more quickly than ever before.

Fass is one of the Veterans who benefited from VA’s improved access to care.  After being treated for his nerve pain, he set up appointments for optometry and audiology.  He ultimately got new prescription glasses and hi-tech hearing aids with Bluetooth technology.

“I never knew I was eligible for this kind of service and I’d be willing to bet that a lot of Veterans don’t either,” he said.

Army Veteran Scott Fass and his wife Patricia

Army Veteran Scott Fass and his wife Patricia

MISSION Act making VA care better

Under a new law that takes effect June 6, 2019, called the VA MISSION Act, access to VA care is getting better.  Under the law, VA is making improvements to its internal care delivery system as well as its community care program, including new community care eligibility criteria, so Veterans can get the care they need, where and when they need it.

The MISSION Act strengthens VA’s ability to deliver trusted, easy to access, high-quality care at VA facilities, virtually through telehealth, and in Veterans’ communities.

Here is additional information.

For Veterans like Fass, providing greater access to VA care is good news. “I’ve seen lots of different doctors, but I have to tell you, I get the best service from the VA.”


Matt Bristol is a strategic communication specialist for the Office of Enterprise Integration, which orchestrates and leads VA transformation and organizational management capabilities through effective integration of people, processes, technology, and innovation. He is a Gulf War Veteran who served as a radio operator with the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and holds a master’s degree in communication from The Johns Hopkins University – Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

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Comments

  1. Israel Soto    

    I send my papel to VA .Ibe in the USAR.i 1979 to 1985 .I Sant to nos if i cualifique.for en y benefits to VA. Thank.

  2. Marty Sable    

    That is a nice story, and probably representative of all urban VA Centers around the United States. As for those of us living in rural areas, they story is not quite as rosy. In fact I went to a listening session here in Yakima recently at the VFW where representatives of VA Health out of Walla Walla explained to us all in attendance that if we wanted better care for ourselves, we needed to move closer to a facility capable of caring for us. What kind of an answer was this?

  3. Patrick J Moonan    

    Agent orange, brun pitts, contaminated water on military bases are all part of the toxic nature of military service. There are no OSHA or EPA oversight. No MDS sheets were given out so military personnel could learn how to protect themselves.

  4. Richard davis    

    Don’t know what VA you go to not the Denver one or the longbeach on. I have completely messed up records. They drag me on and on. Got sent out after 2 years of screaming g that I was in pain. Was treated like a drug addict. Went private wishing 3 months got diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy. The Va is full of young residents and rude people they really need to work on compassion. Absolutely sickened with my care. And wait times are ridiculous and the VA when you ask about the program will immediately find a new spot to slip you in. As I have heard from managers mouths there “the Va is all about numbers””. They should be arrested for the things they have done.

    The VA is Great when your not sick.
    That’s how i was for 8 years. Now 32 and have a hell of a road with doctors ahead which will definitely not be at a VA facility.

    1. Craig manner    

      Speaking of rude and dis passionate people, have you listened to your commander in chief lately? All about the numbers, ratings?

  5. David L Lyda    

    This is a great self promotion article, and it’s good to see a fellow vet get the help he needs. the caveat here is that there are still hundreds of veterans overlooked and severely undercard for. i will use myself as an example. i am home bound, bed bound and a rural eastern Oregon veteran. i have a nurse practitioner, RN and Pharmacist that try to give the best care possible. But because the VA does not want to really provided services to the homebound we suffer quietly. i can no get diabetic foot care, not offered outside of the va clinic. also i am going blind i need new glasses. first we were told no we cant do it, then a retired va eye dc says well actually yes we can do home eye care for glasses, but we just dont have the policy in place that allows us to get in a car drive to the veteran and do the job. but what was most disheartening was the oh well so what response that i got from the patient advocate at the walla walla va. she just didn’t care and didn’t want to help at all. then there is, as i am told the 21 hours weekly that the va will allow for an in home caregiver. thats 21 hours a WEEK. if i cant get someone to help out of pocket then i am preverbally totally screwed. why is that deficient you ask? if i can’t get someone to cover the weekend i just have to hope i have food, and not have a bowel movement between 6pm friday and 9 am monday. sometimes i can get my 80 year old parents to help but they are not physically always able to give assistance. but most of the time i have a local friend who does help. but if not then how do you thin it feels to lay in waste for 3 days? i cant get a power chair or medical bed because my single wide is not strong enough to hold 3 or 4 thousand pounds. but do you think someone at the va might help me process through building a adaptive home? nope. who do i turn to for that help? i know i am way over weight but not being able to stand and walk makes exercise very if not extremely difficult. let alone bathing, haven’t had a shower or bath in over three years, haven’t been able to get out of my house in over a year and then the two previous years i was only able to do so, if i went to the emergency room. i guess what i need if not help is the honesty of someone telling me suffer live in your waste and fade away. can anyone give me either or the two options? does anyone care enough to give me one of these two options? please

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