The VA can be a roll of the dice
A good friend ( awarded a DSC in Nam) had symptoms of an organic brain problem and went to the Pittsburgh VA. Was rotated through several different Doctors and treated for MS. After several years he ended up with a young fellow from the University of Pittsburgh who correctly found that the problem was a brain stem tumor. Had it been found earlier it could have been removed, but by then it was inoperable and he died . When I retired from the military I became a nurse and I know that this can happen anywhere. On the trips where I took my friend for treatment, I couldnt help but notice that there was a system that is over taxed, under funded and staffed by professional people that are in survival mode to get through the day. as with most sad remembrances, why it happened matters little as the end result is that a good man died before his time. I do not blame the VA but I do damn the system. Healthcare professionals do not make most of the decisions today. Medical facilities are run by twinkies with degrees in healthcare administration who couldnt tell the difference between a urinary catheter and a breathing tube. All healthcare is suffering but the VA has the double curse of also being government run. God help all of us older people in Obama care stays in effect.
Probably a good idea as obummer thinks you shouldn't own a gun if you have PTSD and the VA is required to report that.
I really never thought I'd want to or need to use VA services but recently applied due to the need for medical coverage. I lost a great job in 2011 that I had for years in financial services due to "Complications with the Dodd-Frank Financial reform Act". I worked in the senior products division of a national bank, we did good work there and I still get calls from customers with referrals. I was a bit surprised to see that complete financial statements are now required for applicants in certain categories. I didn't see combat in 6 years of service and don't have a problem with the VA doing a financial analylis of my ability to pay, just have to wonder how much I will be required to contribute. I'm now 63 and have an older brother using VA services for years and is quite satisfied but he didn't have to provide financials. How long has this been a requirement? I have been waiting a response to my application for a month, from what I read here I think I'll be waiting awhile longer before I hear anything.
In 2002 the application had a check box to apply without providing financial information. Checking this box indicated you would pay the co-pay for services and this exemption continued on the yearly Benefits Renewal Form (10-10EZ). This was changed several years ago and now only specific individuals are exempt from filing the financial information.
The co-pay is reasonable $8 per month for each prescription and $50 for doctors or clinics. For the 5-6 day hospitalizations I received the co-pay was $1100 each. If your income is under the minimum requirement the prescription co-pay is the only cost.
Sign up now because the availability may change for those not in the system.
Ah the VA, here is my story; Hurt my RT knee in the service and have all the documentation, witness statements etc. Have limped since 1969. Over the years it got worse, but I had a good job that made accomodations so I lived with it, in 2008 I joined the VFW and the American Legion, walked into my first VFW meeting and someone said what’s wrong with your knee, told them and they said I should file a claim. Went home looked up the info on the internet and filed a claim for my knee disability, First mistake, do not ever file a claim without the assistance of a service officer from one of the service orgs like the AL, VFW, DAV etc. That was Nov. 2008, in April 2010 discovered I had type 2 diabetes, and being a Vietnam vet I knew that they linked it to agent orange.. This time I went to the DAV and filed the claim, they asked me if I had hearing loss, tinnus , numbness in my feet etc which I did. Within 3 months had a physical at the VA and an assessment for the disabilities. They gave me hearing aids, glasses, diabetes supplies and medications and anything else I need plus a disability rating. At the same time I filed with the DAV for the diabetes told them about my unsettled claim for my knee. They got on it and before long the VA sent me a letter of rejection for the claim. THEY NEVER gave me a physical, so I appealed the findings. The morning I was suppose to have the appeal hearing I get a call and my DAV rep said that the VA called and wants to give me a physical for the knee injury, well how about that, now that was back in July 2011and has not been settled yet.
In conclusion the care I get at the VA hospital in Salem VA is top notch. I have private insurance and the Docs and nurses I see at the VA are head and shoulders above the ones I have seen in private practice. Example my urologist in private practice spends about 30 seconds with you in a bend over and touch your toes finger wave exam, and then is gone to see his many other patients, where-as the VA docs spend time to get to know you and your problems. A routine physical with my private doc is about 5-10 minutes , I went to the VA and it is over 30 minutes with no stone left unturned.. I feel they really care. I have a doctor assigned to me. Now the administrative section of the VA sucks big time, I know that they have a lot of claims, but 3.5 years and still not settled, give me a break. I think they wait for the patient to die.. And why is it that in many instances you need a service officer or a lawyer to get them to move. The hospital part gets an A+ from me, the administrative part gets an F
I have to say I have no personal experience with the VA medical services, despite that I retired from the Army Reserve in 1997 and started receiving retirement pay in 2007.
While I was on active duty in 1970 I was in the back of a 1/4 truck that because of the panic of the driver free wheeled down a steep slope and when it hit bottom I was thrown clear of the vehicle and then landed on my back in the vehicle. There was no report of the incident and I never went on sick call because of it. I now suffer lower back pain on a recurring basis and considered the idea of making a claim with VA. From what I have heard regarding the VA requirement for documentation and witness statements, none of which I have, I figured that would be futile. I went on to active and reserve duty and figured if I ever made a claim I would be discharged, so in the end I think I came out the better for it. However, I would recommend that anyone in any military scenario that is injured immediately request a Line of Duty Report, and document the event. (As the XO of a reserve unit on annual training at Ft. Irwin I wrote eleven Line of Duty Reports, including two on the same soldier for falling off a tank and separate occasions)
I have two female acquaintances that have nothing but good things to say about VA treatment. One was a reservist on active duty for training when she fell ill, was hospitalized and diagnosed with Lupus. She was medically retired and has been very well taken care of by VA since.
The other person is a "gray area retiree" that is no longer active in the reserve, but eligible for retirement pay, but not old enough to draw retirement. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and was treated by a physician. She then had double breast implants (one to replace the breast removed and one cosmetic to make them both the same) that was badly done. She went to the VA and has been treated to repair the problem with the implants and has been completely satisfied with the service.
Most of the complaints I have heard about the VA regarding application for treatment has been for exotic conditions such as the health problems from "Agent Orange" and "Gulf War Syndrome" although I'm sure there are others. I know a fellow that is a member of the "Atomic Veterans" that were exposed to the detonation atomic weapons, and there is a high incidence of illness related to radiation poisoning among these people.
The Veteran's Administration has been highly criticized for treating people with phony claims of service related injury, and with the tightening budgets it is to be expected that the scrutiny of claims will be thorough. I hope that all who require medical treatment and relief through disability payments will receive those benefits to their satisfaction.
Reading the replies to this thread has been both enlighting and saddening. I hope that you are successful in getting the treatment you require and deserve.
TO HOLDOVER -- when your knee claim finally gets settled, you will receive back disability payments for it. Please read my posts eariler in this thread. With the exception of a personality conflict with my VA priminary care doctor andl anguage problems (my hearing clearly), I could not be happier with the care I've received at the VA Hospital and of course the full disability I receive.
I hope all Viet Nam Vets belong to the Viet Nam Veterans of America and of course their local chapter. In the 25 or 30 years that I've been a member, I have never attended any meetings and still when I asked for help on how to file for disability, they steered me in the right direction with no BS. MY local state Service Officer is great too. She told me to do whatever she said without question, no matter how stupid it seemed at the time. I followed instructions to the letter and even though my rating is 70%, I get 100% money because I can not work. In addition, I am in Priority 1 for medical care. I pay for nothing. They even want to give me a couple of dental implants which I understand could be worth 4,000 $$ each, but so far I can still get along without any new teeth -- why go through the pain until I really have to. My wife could also get free medical care - that's EVERYTHING - if she ever wanted to. But she has private insurance from her former employer and is happy with that.
FOR YOU VETS WHO HAVEN'T APPLIED YET, WORDS OF ADVICE:
1. Be nice. Even though you are entitled to benefits, don't demand anything. Sugar catches a lot of bees.
2. Use your State Service Officer (SO), that's why they are there, to help you stay on track.
3. Follow the SO's instructions exactly.
4. Be patient. This stuff takes time. Remember that you WILL get back benefits.
5. Gather all your military records together before applying. Have your sh-t in an orderly fashion.
6. Make copies of EVERYTHING. I can't imagine not having a copy maching especially at today's prices.
7. Don't miss an appointment. If you can not be there, CALL. Be on time too, even though you'll probably have to wait.
KEEP after them and DON'T give up!! that is what they want you to do.
If you live in the north, Like MN, IL or some LIBERAL place like that, it might be wise for you to MOVE to a "more veteran friendly state".
It took me THIRTY years to get comp for one leg, one eye, and two ears, and it was ALL right their on THEIR paper. I've known other guys who just got "theirs" after FORTY years!!
Good luck and DON'T give up.
BTW... I firmly believe that the VA gave me PTSD !!! don't tell them that though.
7. Don't miss an appointment. If you can not be there, CALL. Be on time too, even though you'll probably have to wait. I was told that never miss or be late for you appointment without calling. I'm always early and sometimes if sombody misses their appointment I get in early.
I did my three and got out, back in 1970. For reasons that don't really matter anymore, I never recieved an exit physical. My hearing had been damaged in service, but I just learned to live with it.
A friend (WWII vet) last year got some hearing aids from the VA, and my wife (who has griped about my hearing for the 22 years we've been married) convinced me to try. Having seen buddies encounter the VA Motto "Deny, deny, deny; 'till you die" I started with my state service officer, every county in Florida has one. He is a 20+ year Navy vet and he sent in my application for Priority Six, Vietnam service. The VA bumped me up one level to Priority Five (low income). I am now "in the system" and have been tested and approved for hearing aids, had an Agent Orange Evaluation, and a general physical.
Our local rural area clinic is staffed by friendly caring people. I had to go to two different places in two different cities for other things, and llike m1grunt above noted the system is stretched to the limit, the staff is friendly and professional but overwhelmed.
I have not, nor will I, file for disability for my hearing (service connection too hard to prove) nor my PTSD. However, if i get any of the Agent Orange related diseases I probably will.
#1 thing: get help from a Service Officer, whether that's provided by your state, county, local VFW, American Legion, DAV, whatever. Do not try to do it yourself, the frustration will kill you.