Toledo Talk

VA Healthcare

I've been reading stories about the VA Healthcare brouhaha, and I'm looking for clarification on exactly what services the VA is supposed to be providing.

Question: is the VA supposed to be providing services to veterans for service related injuries and conditions, or is it supposed to be treating all health care issues regardless of origin to our veterans?

Here is what prompts my question:

PHOENIX — Navy veteran Ken Senft turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs for medical care in 2011 after his private insurance grew too costly. It could have been a fatal mistake, he now says.

A few years ago, the 65-year-old had a lesion on his head. He went to a VA clinic near his home outside Phoenix, but he said the doctor told him it could be two years before he might get an appointment with a dermatologist.

So he paid out of pocket to see a private physician. Turns out, he had cancer.

“What if I had waited two years?” Senft said in frustration. “I might be dead.”

Now, I admit the article does not say how long or when this gentleman served, but ... I don't see skin cancer as necessarily service related (I'm sure it could be in certain circumstances but since he didn't know what it was how could he assume it was service related?), which leads me to ask is the VA really supposed to provide health care for all veterans for life? That's a pretty big mission.

I was always under the assumption that the VA was for service-related care, not just all care for all veterans. Can someone clarify this for me?

created by MrsArcher on May 29, 2014 at 02:19:06 pm     Health     Comments: 15

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Comments ... #

The eligibility for different benefits depends on multiple factors, such as how long a veteran served, when they served, injuries suffered while serving, severity of injuries, etc.

posted by clt212 on May 29, 2014 at 02:36:48 pm     #  

MrsArcher

As you probably know I have been a VA nurse for almost 21 yrs. I am also a combat wounded vet. The system is so complex it's starting to rival the tax code. Originally the VA was charted to care for vets who were injured or made ill as a direct consequence of their service only. But back when Ronald Regan was president the service was expanded to cover just about anyone who made it out with an honorable discharge. Non service connected vets were supposed to go to the rear of the line. I can tell you first hand that no matter what the VA says that is no longer true. I see people every day who never saw a shot fired in combat, were never deployed and some who were discharged " at the convenience of the service". They were essentially booted for being malingerers or next to useless but received an honorable discharge anyway. Some of these characters get better treatment than some of my combat wounded vets. That's no lie and I swear that on my dad's grave and he served 13 yrs including all of WW2. Some of those treated the worst are those that served the longest. The retired vets with 20 or more yrs. I am not making this up. I am putting my job on the line even posting this. And yes. The abuses you are reading about did happen. I know because I was an unwitting part of the abuse. Nurses normally do not schedule appointments. But because of the very unique nature of my position I am one of only 5 nurses in my facility that do. It is actually a violation of policy. Only HAS personnel are supposed to schedule. At one point we were given "instructions" on how to manipulate the "desired date" on consults. They would never put it in writing or an email and we were told it was orders from DC. Our training in ths area was just enough to complete the task. None of us were ever aware that we were actually violating the law. One day a new director took over. And suddenly all of this changed. We were told from that point on the written directives as posted in VA regulations would be followed to the letter. This director is 100% by the book. Now we are aware that we were part of the problem without being aware. Ordinary civilians don't seem to be aware that a great many VA employees are vets themselves. It really damages our morale when other vets slam us and degrade us when in fact on the whole they get far better care than any of you civilians do. And the ones that bitch the loudest are those non service connected vets. We rarely have complaints from folks with actual service connected illness and injuries. And don't even get me started on the PTSD bullshit. I served two combat tours in Vietnam. I know all about PTSD. Lots of things cause it and plenty of people who were never in the military suffer from it. But please. Never in combat, never served hazardous duty,no history of sexual trauma. What the hell caused the PTSD? Bad meal in the chow hall or you missed your mommy. And yes. There are plenty of vets of this type bilking the system for millions of dollars and getting away with it because it's a very touchy issue for those wanting to get re elected. I won't even go in depth about those that are chronic no shows and who cancel dozens of appointments a year only to call and bitch when they can't be seen the next day. I'll close the rant now. Forgive me but you can ask my wife and kids (one of whom is active duty and one a vet) I come home almost suicidal from the stress.

posted by Wydowmaker on May 29, 2014 at 06:44:46 pm     #   4 people liked this

Wydowmaker,
Thank you and your family for your service. And thank you for your post, I hope it opens some eyes.

USAF 91-99

posted by Erin on May 29, 2014 at 06:49:31 pm     #   1 person liked this

Thank you, Wydowmaker.

So, what I'm hearing is that a program that was started out as necessary and justified has since been expanded to a level that is not only not financially sustainable but has grown to such a size that it can no longer be managed properly. And because of those who wish to manipulate the system, it is failing for those who need it most. This just sounds like so many government programs.

posted by MrsArcher on May 29, 2014 at 09:04:21 pm     #   1 person liked this

MrsArcher

Yes you pretty much summed it up. No one wants to deny compensation to our vets who served and were injured or made ill in the line of duty. We promised that if they served and they were wounded or hurt that we would take care of them. They were also promised other benefits. Educational, VA housing loans for those who qualify and retirement pensions for those with long service. No one ever promised that every single person who served would be provided a job upon discharge. Housing if they become homeless. Transportation if they can't afford a ride and now some veterans organizations are demanding that spouses and some other family members get benefits too. Not just while the person is serving but after discharge. Look. I pay taxes too. The VA serves over 6 million vets. I had 10 thousand through my clinic alone last year. Do you know that care for a vet after discharge costs about four times what it cost to support a member of the military from training to discharge? We have a glut of directors and supervisors in the VA but no where near enough skilled staff to care for what is coming. The military is downsizing to pre WW2 levels. Most vets come home and get jobs, private insurance and never see the inside of a VA facility. But hundreds and hundreds of thousands are about to be added to the roles. And if we don't get back to the core mission of the VA and swiftly this is going to implode. One of the things that destroyed Rome was they turned their military into a cult. And we are doing the same. We need to praise, thank, and care for our wounded. We need not worship them at all cost. So says this vet.

posted by Wydowmaker on May 29, 2014 at 10:24:46 pm     #   1 person liked this

"Most vets come home and get jobs, private insurance and never see the inside of a VA facility." Happily, this describes The Hub until today. He served in Vietnam 67-68, was wounded (not severely) 11 months into his tour and was shipped home. He recovered and spent another year as a rifle range coach at Camp Lejeune, then his time was up and he came home to Toledo in 1970. He was hired by Solid Waste and never looked back. We met in '71, married, raised 3 kids and he retired well and in good shape. He has been losing his hearing for a long time but it's not a service-related injury. He recently had an exam done by a medic sent by Humana Medicare and the gentleman suggested he contact the VA to see if he could get help with hearing aids. He called the local clinic and was told someone would call him with an appointment. A packet of info came in the mail a couple of weeks ago and it stated his appointment was in Flint today. Flint?? I suggested he call but he said it was probably where they did the intake for newbies and he didn't check it. Got to Flint and they were aghast that had happened. They saw him and got his file started and before he got home, there was a call from the local clinic apologizing and asking him to call to get an appt set up here.

posted by nana on May 29, 2014 at 11:15:10 pm     #  

bah, hit enter too soon. Anyway, everyone was really nice and helpful and he wasn't upset, he really didn't have a problem with one trip to Flint if he had to, nice bike ride on a beautiful day. Small problem for us, maybe not so small for someone else. Hang in there, wydowmaker, I'm sure lots of vets are glad you're there.

posted by nana on May 29, 2014 at 11:24:08 pm     #  

Nana

Flint?!!! That is just so wrong. No way he should have had to go through that. That is exactly part of the problem all over the country. I sure hope he got travel pay for that trip. Thanks for the encouragement. We need all we can get.

posted by Wydowmaker on May 30, 2014 at 07:29:28 am     #  

Nah, he's not gonna worry about it, nicest ride he's had this year! :) It will be nice if he can get help with his hearing, and he's already talked to a nurse in the clinic who will get him set up with Audiology, so it's ok.

posted by nana on May 30, 2014 at 03:00:25 pm     #  

11 months in country and then a year on the rifle range?

Hearing loss not service related my ass.

posted by justread on May 30, 2014 at 03:06:34 pm     #  

well, there's really no way to prove it, but they really never asked about his history too much once they saw he had a purple heart. I guess that's an automatic in. We really don't remember when the hearing loss started, you know how it just creeps up on you, plus, he always wore ear protection on the range and worked kind of a loud job for 34 years, garbage trucks are frikkin loud! If Medicare would help out with hearing aids, he never would have thought to call VA. We'll see how it goes. :)

posted by nana on May 30, 2014 at 03:29:33 pm     #  

Update: He saw the audiologist today and he gets hearing aids and batteries for free. The doc asked him a lot of questions about his service time and after and what he did for a living and what he does now and is his bike a loud one (it's a beemer, no). Bottom line, he qualifies for all services at no charge, again due to the Purple Heart. His uncle was in Normandy and got a Bronze and a Silver star but was never injured, his brother was in Nam 3 months and got fragged by friendly fire (stupid dude with a grenade killed himself and 2 others and stitched his brother up the middle but he lived) and neither of them qualify for free care. A-freaking-mazing.

posted by nana on Jun 06, 2014 at 08:10:21 pm     #  

EVERY honorably discharged VET should receive TOTALLY FREE health care at the nearest quality facility. Period. End of story.

But, that takes the gum't and the related, bloated bullshit out of the equation doesn't it? And removes another political football for both sides to play with.

Wake up folks. You're all being played for the suckers so many of you are.

posted by Foodie on Jun 06, 2014 at 10:24:41 pm     #   1 person liked this

Nana

Congrats and it's about time. He should not have had to go through all this crap. This is what drives me insane as a VA employee. I deal with this outrage every day trying to help my patients. It's like trying to wrestle jello.

posted by Wydowmaker on Jun 07, 2014 at 01:19:59 pm     #  

Wydowmaker

It hasn't been a bad experience and the outcome is good, so it's no big deal. There are always glitches when starting a new experience; somebody just didn't know where Northwood was, we should have checked it out better. Thanks for doing the job. Peace. :)

posted by nana on Jun 07, 2014 at 07:45:42 pm     #