Calling all veterans: send me your experiences in the VA system

Recently, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald had a little unprofessional tussle during a budget hearing with Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, a veteran of both Iraq wars. After a few minutes of arguing over huge cost overruns at a Denver VA hospital, McDonald snapped at Coffman: “I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?”

McDonald brushed aside his responsibility for the problem based on his time on the job and insinuated that Rep. Coffman actually owned the problem.

Fox reports that Coffman didn’t respond at the hearing. “But the four-term lawmaker said in a statement later that he could tell McDonald a few things he hasn’t done.”

“I have never run a federal agency that tolerates corruption the way the VA has. I’ve never built a hospital that’s years behind schedule and hundreds of millions over budget. And I’ve never been a shill for inept bureaucrats who allowed American heroes to die on a medical waiting list.”

Apparently nothing has really changed at the VA. The Washington Times writes, “The embattled Veterans Affairs Department, now ranked by a government watchdog as among the most troubled federal agencies, is reminding employees in a memo why they should care about their work.”

“The document circulating among employees is titled the “I CARE Quick Reference” sheet, and it spells out the desired core values of the VA: integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence. The memo says the VA is “a model of unrivaled excellence due to employees who are empowered, trusted by their leaders, and respected for their competence and dedication.” But after a year in which VA officials were accused of keeping secret waiting lists and concealing delayed care for veterans, some agency employees and veterans are questioning the “I CARE” program as a cosmetic effort that will do little to improve services.”

This reminds me of that “Potemkin Village” presentation given to Catherine the Great. The six-month-old Choice Act has supposedly been underused– when the truth is bureaucratic red tape has discouraged veterans from using it.

“Management has made a mockery of it,” (The I CARE program) said one VA employee, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. The head of a veterans group said veterans and active-duty service members are still waiting for “real, meaningful change” in the VA’s quality and promptness of health care services.“

“Adopting a catchy acronym and circulating a checklist is not enough,” said Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. “It’s easy to put on an ‘I CARE’ pin, but it doesn’t matter unless you actually demonstrate that care through your actions and the results you deliver. That’s what veterans, military members and their families are looking for: real results, not a slogan.”

“VA Secretary Robert McDonald, tapped by President Obama last year to revamp the embattled agency, said in a statement on the agency’s website that the “I CARE” principles “focus our minds on our mission of caring and thereby guide our actions toward service to others. These values define our culture and strengthen our dedication to those we serve.”

I’d like to hear back from you veterans out there about your experience with the VA system.

What has been your experience with the Choice Act program — if you even knew about it in the first place?

Secondly, tell us your anecdotal stories of the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Veterans Administration hospital system — yes, we want to know the good stories, because not all of the facilities are poorly run.

And lastly, what are your recommendations? We’ll try to capture these stories and pass them onto the House and Senate VA committee chairmen.

Please email your stories to [email protected]

If we’re going to affect a policy change, then your voices must be heard. And I’d be honored to be the platform by which that can be enabled.

Steadfast and Loyal.

44 COMMENTS

  1. I was ‘diagnosed’ as malingering when I took a vacation day from my civilian job to have a service connected knee injury looked at by the VA. Of course, after visiting a more professional civilian doctor, he found the problem with my knee and prescribed a treatment that has worked. The VA often shames veterans into not getting quality care.

  2. I got out of the Army in 1991 and never had a problem with the VA – until 2 years ago. When I purchased my house, the closing lawyer noticed I was a disabled vet & told me I was eligible for a tax exemption. After putting in the paperwork & getting the run around for 18 months, I was told that my C&P letter did not say I was P&T. When I asked how to get P&T status, I was given a re-evaluation in Oct 2014. In Dec 2014, I was informed that since I ‘showed improvement’, my P&T status was denied, my IU status was no longer valid & my C&P will be dropped to 70% effective Apr 2015! I was informed that my doctors (all VA) cannot write letters for patients. I am in constant pain and it gets harder every day to get around, but “my condition is improving”.

    • I would suggest you contact an attorney. My doctor a paper for my county tax office for a handicap sticker that attested to the fact I am 100 percent disabled. The county told me to hold on to the signed paper in case I needed it again. Seems to me once your doctor days your 100 percent disabled you won’t get better only progressively worse.

    • refile and get another exam, go to the DAV and find out the van will be there. Get all your paper work in order. Do not be a typical man and say I feel great. Every rejection should be refiled as soon as you get it THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. You have got to explain all your problems to the Doctor that exams you and it must be filed for them to look at that problem. If you decide to Use the DAV file all paper work with them and keep copies of everything. Look at filing for being unemployable.

  3. Sounds to me like the VA used some taxpayer money to hire some expensive consultants to meet with the top dogs and write mission/vision/values for the VA. Then they made up snappy handouts for all of the employees and had I CARE buttons for everyone to wear. I bet they had posters made and everything. So the top dogs at the VA can feel like they actually did something, and the employees can be forced to wear the stupid buttons, and ansolitely nothing will change for their customers – the vets – because nothing substantive has changed in the organization. Things will continue business as usual for the rank and file.

    How do I know this? Because over my long career I have worked for numerous big companies who bring in “new leadership,” hire the consultants, make up the slogans and the banners and the posters, and absolutely nothing changes.

  4. My experience in the VA system is awesome.I use the VA for my only heath care and I get treated better there then I ever have in a private hospital .

  5. Was at the VA this morning. Prior to the last three months, I have had good treatment at the VA. I am not overly fond of my doctor, but she does seem to try to treat me. My problems are not real serious like some, but I do have to go on a regular basis. There were some changes at my clinic recently, and quite frankly the admin people they have now are just cold hearted and rude. I try to be nice to everyone because I believe what goes around comes around. However, I am a grown man and do not need to be treated as if I were just a pain in the ass. I don’t need any glassy stares from the feather merchant behind the counter.

  6. My husband is a Vietnam Nam Vet We both have been pleasantly surprised by the respect and treatment by all employees at the VA Medical Center in Buffalo, NY. He gets his appointments made promptly, exceptional treatment, and everything there always says Thank You for Your Service Sir. They are amazing. We are very thankful for the VA here.

  7. My tour began 02JAN68, Until July I served as First Mechanic, on a CH-46, with HMM 164, I flew 21 Missions, in Norther I Corps. I went to the VA in 1978 trying to deal with failed Marriages, continuous short term job changes, and reoccurring nightmares. I figured I’d blame it on PTSD. The VA did nothing for me.

    In 2005, after a Viet Nam Veteran friend recommended I go to the VA, he said it had changed tremendously since he had about the same experience in the 70’s.

    It took me 18 months, and Rep. Sue Myrick, to get my first Agent Orange Screening, which was the first time I had been back since 1979.

    I now use them for my health care needs, and am very satisfied with the level of care I receive, but I do not have any health issues so far.

    I did have a Colonoscopy last year, scheduled at a “Private Clinic” which my VA Doctor requested, and set the appointment. Now I recently received notice that the VA is denying the claim. I’m currently appealing their decision.

  8. West Palm Beach VA has treated both my wife and myself exceptionally well This includes major surgery and follow-up. All personnel were helpful and ‘were interested in our well being. We are reminded of upcoming appointments, prescribed medicine is timely delivered and inquiries are quickly responded to.

  9. My first attempt to use the VA system in 2003-4 was at the Atlanta area VA hospital. It was the MOST Horrible experience I’d ever had with any medical establishment. I have physical ailments that were the main reason I was Discharged Medically. I also have PTSD and Attempted to explain this to the Indian Doctor who barely spoke english. When I attempted to dispute this I was pretty much brushed off. Because of the way I handle my PTSD I have a big problem with conflicts now from being a take charge type NCO. It took me about 10 years to once again try the VA system for my health care. I enrolled in VA Togus here in Maine. I CANNOT Say ENOUGH GREAT things about the staff here. Doctor’s Nurses and everyone there.

  10. I don’t know whether it is the Grace of God or the VA in Dallas Colonel, but I have never had any problems the 12 years I haven been going there. They always are nice and thank me for my service to the country. I had surgery there in 2008 and spent 16 days in the hospital. They took great care of me the whole time.

  11. I go to the Dublin Ga VA. I get excellent care and the people treat you well except for one pain in the a**. Went last week and there was not one parking spot at the entrance parking lot.They were packed. I saw a one star general in uniform being treated at Dublin. My only problem is that if we go to a specialist not in the VA system and try to get a prescription filled it may be turned down because the VA does not carry it. My out side drug plan puts medication on a five terr plan That makes it impossible to buy. My doctor should have the right to prescribe my pain killers not the government. These new rules are for a good reason but they hurt the elderly and disabled vets.

  12. husband in 5th yr. of trying to receive his Vietnam benefits . He is sitting on them(over 100) .My husband held the barrels up against a tree while his commander rammed them with a cone like machinery. This was to take the tops of the herbicide would spill on him and the ground. He also has a picture of him filling them up with dirt after he dug a trench and sunk them halfway. The perimeter,also of his hootch was approximately 50 ft., he also has a picture playing bad mitten approx. 25ft, from the perimeter. The drift line is 500 meters. His hootch was made of branches and he had screens for windows.

  13. Being in a combat engineering group we were exposed to different chemical agent’s in the Gulf War and we all had various issues later on. Some of us broke out with boils from head to toe, lost our hair, unstoppable shaking, foggy thinking abilities and several other symptoms. When we arrived back in the states the Army medical team that never deployed treated us like crap and then when I was discharged on disability due to extreme loss of hearing, chest bone damage and right ankle damage I went to the VA because I had several symptoms from the chemical agent’s that the Army would not address. The VA actually told me that they felt I needed a mental evaluation and be locked in a mental health facility. I ended up going to a civilian doctor and they immediately gave me test because by this time I was suicidal and I was having massive panic attacks and I had uncontrollably shaking. They found out within about a half hour that my thyroid had been damaged and was pumping a continuous large amount of chemical into my brain, right there they put me on several medication to control it. After about a year I started to feel normal again. Thanks VA and Army for NOT showing any kind of compassion!

  14. I am 57 and have been forced to use the VA because I have no full time employment. I am 30% disabled and retired. I have been using the West side VA in Chicago along with the outpatient clinic in Aurora, ILL. Since I have been using them I have found them to be extremely competent, caring and have received excellent treatment and follow up on the various issues I have had to deal with. Blood test, specialty clinics such as dermatology, eyes, gastro and even the emergency room just recently. They have stepped up their game and I give them high marks for the treatment I have received as well as those I notice around me! They may be above the norm but I am very impressed with their care and competency! I hope all other Veterans receive and have the same experiences as I have had in the past year!!

  15. Easy enough. I would rather and do go to civilian locations because I don’t like spending 6 hours in the emergency room lobby and I don’t like waiting 6 months for a appointment.

  16. Salisbury NC, VA has canceled apts and not told me until I drove down there. I have been waiting for 4 years for an MRI after being told they think I have MS. I have found 2 dr’s that speak English. One suggested I smoke pot for my migraines.

  17. If you have a medical emergency and call the VA they tell you to call 911 and then if you are 100% service connected they will not pay the bill because it was not authorized or they do not considerate a emergency

    • They did that to me – called 911 for breathing difficulty, they sent me to a local ER because their hospital was 80 miles away. I got to the ER and presented my card, and they came back and said the VA denied that they sent me.

      • One of my neighbors had had a hernia outpatient surgery at the VA in San Antonio. We lived at least 50-60 miles from the VA. He called me that afternoon and asked if I could come look at his incision, I took one look and told him he was bleeding internally. He wanted to know if it could wait and I told him I didn’t think so. I knew it would take us hours to get to the VA since it was rush hour and we would have to travel on one of the busiest freeways in San Antonio. I told him that I had heard that if you have an emergency you could go to the nearest ER to at least get stabilized.He insisted I check with the VA and I did and they told me under those circumstances by all means to take him to the nearest ER. When we got there they took one look and took him in and admitted him. He had asked the doctor if he really had to stay and the doctor told him he could not make him stay but he also could not guarantee him he would be alive the next morning if he chose to leave.Luckily he agreed to stay and with the tests they did that night they determined he had lost about 1/3 rd of his blood. Turned out they had let a first year resident do his surgery and she had accidentally nicked some blood vessel in his abdomen and he damn near died. Then they tried to repair it with some mesh stuff once he got over nearly bleeding to death and the mesh grew into his intestines. He is already dying of pancreatic cancer, so I don’t think all this unnecessary complications have helped at all. BTW, he had told me when he had had the biopsy for the cancer if it was positive he intended to refuse chemo and radiation. That was three years ago last Oct, he is still alive and tending his garden and cats. But he says everytime he goes to the VA for followup, they tell him they cannot understand why he is still alive and appearing well, he should be dead by now. That does upset him to the point he has said he might just quit going in at all.
        I have to admire this guy. He lost most of his stomach due to a shrapnel wound during Vietnam and has suffered from that and PTSD. Then he got the cancer, and I have never once heard him complain or ask “Why me?” He just keeps plodding on. And then with the botched surgery at the VA he was told he had grounds for a lawsuit, and he just said, he was not going to live long enough to enjoy any extra money, not worth the stress and bother, and he just let it drop.

  18. I am a Vietnam vet,I have been in the VA system for about 6 years, I called in september 2014 for an appointment with a Dermatologist and I got an appointment Dec 23 2014! At the West Palm VA Hopital! Other than that I have had decent service wth the VA!

  19. I have inoperable L-5, S-1 DDD with nerve damage-sciatica at both legs, Right Renal Failure, IBS, Sleep Apnea, PTSD, Bipolar, and Arthritis. I am 100% disabled, but the VA will not declare it total and permanent. SSA will not accept my disability either. Appointments at the VA are difficult to obtain, and the VA sent me an extra card to seek care outside the VA system at my own expense. Does that make any sense?

  20. Experience with VA two times. about time I was 67 years old (Korean Vet), one of my legs exploded. I went to SS to ask how I go about getting medicare help. First time sick in out of military system. SS office looked at my SS card and called Security to have me escourted out of the building. This was in Newport Richy Florida. My wife then decided that I had to get help and took me to the Veterans Administration Clinic there. Upon being told I would have to sign up and wait about 3-4 months for approval, I had my USNavy retired ID. My wife made one statement. “He has diabetes and his leg just exploded and i can see to his bone”. I was in the nurses office having my temperature taken less that 2 minutes later.
    Second was when the sent me to Seattle Washington for prostrate cancer treatement. That was a success even though level 7 cancer. Still ok.

  21. I’ve been out since 2002 with a personality disorder for a suicide attempt. Since then I’vebeen unable to hold a job for 12 cconsecutive months and had at least 4 more attempts at suicide since then the latestbwas two days ago and i still can not get anywhere with the VA for my claim. I was actually turned away once at Mather Field VA I’m Sacramento because I was forced out before serving 24 consecutive months

  22. Been to the VA with cardiac issues. I had massive fluid retention issues and my legs and hands were swollen so bad that you could push down on my shin and leave a divot Went to the VA and then their outsourced cardiologist – begged for a water pill like Lasix and was denied every time ( I’m a nurse and I know a bit on what to ask for to fix this). After they took even more blood from me and denied more meds I dropped those docs and bought my own health insurance – one visit to my new primary care doc and he put me on the same meds I was begging for a the VA without me even asking him for any pills. He asked why the VA didn’t prescribe a water pill and I told him their responses to each of my pleas. My doc was not only disgusted with their behavior he was visibly upset that a “specialist” wouldn’t even have the basic knowledge on how to remove excess fluid from the body. I’m 4 months out and I feel better and have dropped 40 pounds. I will never trust the VA again.

  23. I was injured during combat training and after five years of trying to serve while doing surgeries and rehab it came to the point where I could no longer perform my duties. I met the official Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) and was given a summary judgement because in the words of the court the evidence was “overwhelming”. I was medically retired after 24 years of service to the Air Force Special Forces and the VA suggested that since my case was so well documented that I use the “quick submission” process for disability through the VA. After 18 months I received my first VA disability rating: ZERO Percent. I have appealed several times over the next six years and currently have a 40 Percent rating with another appeal pending. I also have back pay that the VA owes me and have not paid because they want to “audit” my account. They have owed me this back pay for over a year now and no indication that anything will be paid anytime soon. I am no longer able to work and Social Security rated me at 100 Percent disabled in December 2011. The VA has lost my records, claimed that I missed appointments (I have NEVER missed an appointment in 24 years of service) and refused to accept military medical records all of this as justification on not rating my disability. The VA also changed my dependent status from married to single and then had me prove to them that I was still married because “I might defraud the VA for the addition monies”. I submitted the documentation and it took them over a YEAR and a HALF just to switch my status back to married in the VA computer system. I still have not received the money the VA took out of my check when they changed me from married to single.

  24. I needed cataract surgery as I was legally blind from them, and had the surgery done in two separate operations at the Asheville, NC VA hospital. The doctor and nurses, the processing and the procedures were all first rate and I’m very pleased with the care I received there. Today I use the Franklin, NC VA clinic for anything I need, which fortunately has been rare. I am very satisfied with the clinic and all the treatments I’ve received through my experiences with VA system.

  25. My mother, father, and husband are all veterans, and though I’m not one (with regret), I do have their experiences to draw from. All in all, my parents have received very good care from their small VA hospital. I’m the one not happy with them putting my mother through two years of pain before scheduling a simple MRI, which showed the immediate need for back surgery. My husband’s experiences, however, have nothing to do with the hospitals, but rather, everything else that is under the VA’s domain. Such as this proclaimed benefit of “on the job training”, which was described as being just that while he was going through ACAP, right before he got out. When he attempted to use that benefit, he was told he’d have to QUIT his job and go to a school for that job (which doesn’t exist)! What in the world does quitting a job to go to school have to do with “On The Job Training”??? Every time he’s tried to use any of his benefits, it’s been a total run-around with a ridiculous amount of hoops to jump through before ultimately being denied for whatever excuse they can come up with.

  26. I retired from the Army at Fort Hood, TX in March 2001 (actually December 2000 was when I signed out). After returning to my home of record (Ohio) I learned that my VA disabilities claim was still not processed. I made repeated inquiries with the VA with very little response. After about a year or so, they claimed that I never did a retirement physical (which as you know is impossible). I know that the paperwork made it as far as the Waco office, but they later claimed that it did not. Previously, I had a TBI in 1995 and was treated for it there at Ft. Hood, and then at Seoul, Korea, and then was admitted at WRAMC DV-HIP/TBI until 1997. I never have fully recovered and needed the VA to help me when I retired, but was disregarded. I tried to use my Vet Rep locally, and they did help me try to gather medical paperwork to use to resubmit for another physical, but that was lost as well. Bottom line, I still have no VA medical and have no disability whatsoever. The entire system is broken and I give up on it ever being worthwhile.

  27. Allen, I have had no problems with the VA, in fact when I applied for help with my Vietnam PTSD in the Philippines, I was very happy with the response there, and even since I have returned to the US, In Florida, both the clinic in Zephyrhills and the Hospital in Tampa have been very helpful to me. Thanks for getting the word out and caring how the VA is doing.

  28. I guess I have been lucky. I visit the York PA Va clinic when I need to and they have been fantastic. The clinic is new and state of the art. My few trips to the VA hospital in Lebanon have also been excellent. I’ve only been there for x-rays, an MRI and to see an Orthopedic Specialist but each time I had a very short wait and the staff was excellent. The Lebanon PA facility is undergoing a major renovation and my visits were still excellent. I wish all veterans would receive the same level of care.

  29. I was declared financially incompetent in 1992 after being in a car wreck and getting steroid injections in the spine for a back injury which left me so manic I was spending my disability as if I were a millionaire and had missed two house payments on the VA home loan. I was told that once I got off the steroids the incompetency thing would be dropped. The VA appointed a local CPA to handle my finances. I had told the man that I had borrowed on my VA life insurance and needed to start making payments so I would not lose the insurance
    I got a new VA field examiner in 2013, and when he found out the “custodian” was taking his 4% cut out of my check and mailing me the rest, and had been doing so for years, with me paying all my own bills, etc, the allowed me control of my money again. When I had checked about my life insurance I was told that I had had no life insurance since 2009, as he had not only not paid any of the loan back, but he had not paid any of the interest on the loan the duration he had been taking care of my money. During that time the VA would not even discuss any of my finances with me and would tell me I needed to go through him . When I talked to a lady in their insurance division she had asked me if I had any disabilities from the service which had not already been filed on or which had gotten worse, since if I did, and filed on them, if they were approved I would be eligible to get VA life insurance. So I filed on both my back and knees which are now in horrible shape. I kept getting letters from the VA that the claim was pending until I received a letter saying it had been denied since I had not kept an appointment they had set up for me. I called them and told them I had never been notified I had an appointment The first man I spoke to was very rude and dismissive and told me all I could do was to file an appeal. I got angry and said I’m wasting my time talking to you and hung up and called again. I got a woman this time, and she said he had notated I had hung up on him and asked me why and when I told her, she made the effort to check my file and she discovered that the VA had never made any attempt to notify me of that appointment. She said if they had even attempted to call me there would have to be a notation in my records and there was none, and that if they had mailed or emailed me a notification a copy of that would be in my file and there was nothing. So she told them they had to reopen the claim. That was several months ago and I have heard nothing since. I now call in every few months just to make sure I will not “miss” another appointment that I know nothing about.
    Also this same CPA “custodian” did not notify the VA when my mother had died in 1999. She had died in the hospital on a Sat night and I had tried to notify the VA on the following Monday morning, since I was receiving $75 a month extra as she was my dependent since my father had died 21 years before. I was told by a man at the VA regional office in Houston that since I was incompetent they could not accept the notice of my mother’s death from me, I would need my “custodian” to call them with that notice. So I called his office and he told me he would make the notification. Fast forward three years to my next visit with the Field Examiner, who comes to check on you every three years, and he inquired about my mother and I told him she had died three years before and the “custodian” had been supposed to notify the VA. He said they had never been notified. I called the “custodian” after the Field Examiner left and asked him why he had not done as he had said he would and notified them and he had said he felt that I needed that $75 a month more than the VA did. Well, a few months later I found out that they were going to deduct $300 a month from my check for 10 months due to overpayment, which they did. Apparently he either didn’t tell them that it was he would tried to defraud the VA and not me, or they didn’t care who defrauded them, they were getting it back as quickly as they could. I’m pretty sure he did not tell them as he handles about 50 accounts for the VA at 4% of each ones paycheck, so he makes close to $5000 a month writing a few checks for most of those people every month and would not want to lose that easy income.
    I still have no life insurance and as a 67 year old disabled person it is not going to be easy to buy some. I had found a policy that was relatively inexpensive for just enough to plant me but for the first two years if you crap out it only pays what you have paid in, which would not be nearly enough to cover funeral expenses. I do not want family members to get stuck with funeral expenses if I can help it. At $30 a month premiums if I died in 23 months even, it would only pay out about $700 which doesn’t do much toward funeral expenses.
    Before the VA allowed me to have control of my money again I kept asking the “custodian” about my insurance and all he would tell me was not to worry, even if I lost the insurance the VA was not going to allow someone with 100% disability to be buried in a paupers’ grave. I kept telling him that is not how it works, but now know that although he knew I had no insurance he was not willing to let me know that. And this CPA is a retired Army COL, and so he should have known better.

  30. I had had a very bad cough starting around 2000 and I was coughing so badly I broke several ribs. I would call the VA telenurse and tell them I thought I had broken a rib. They kept telling me if I had broken a rib I would know it. I went in to triage several times and they kept writing I had some sort of inflamation of the rib cage and no one would order x-rays. The pain was unbelievable. Finally, after about a year and a half my VA doctor ordered a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia since the cough was so bad. She told me to wait and bring the x-rays back to her once they were read, which I did. You should have seen her face, first when she read the report on the jacket of the x-rays, which said “multiple rib fractures,” and then again as she counted the still unhealed fractures – there were 14 unhealed rib fractures. She never did apologize nor did the telenurse who had just a couple of days before actually yelled at me when I had called in again about another suspected broken rib to “get it through my head I did not have any broken ribs.”
    Luckily I discovered the cough came from a serious allergy to my pet cockatiels and once I got rid of them the cough went away and have not broken any ribs coughing since then. My friends knew I was not making it up because they could see the agony I was in. I had gotten to where I wouldn’t even bother going to the VA I would just stay in bed as much as I could for the first 2 or 3 days since it hurt too much to do anything else. And they would just tell me to alternate motrin and tylenol for the pain and that I didn’t need anything stronger. Once Mary, my doctor, discovered I really did have broken ribs, she did give me a script for Vicodin, which I carefully only took for the first couple of days after breaks, as I did not want to end up as one of the VA’s many addicts on top of everything else.

  31. I am a retired USAF Veteran of over 20 years service, in 15 nations, with 6 VietNam Campaigns, with my unit being awarded the Outstanding Unit award with Valor, twice, in that conflict! We were attacked at all of our bases in Thailand, from
    Pathet Lao, Red Khmer, and VC, across the borders, and even inside Thailand.

    Thailand was the “TEST” nation for all Chemical Agents used in Viet Nam, and other places. I transited Viet Nam four times. Another 250 thousand served in countries, adjacent to Viet Nam, but, Congress has determined that we were NOT “Boots on the ground” though heavily exposed to the dioxins in AO and other of the rainbow of herbicides, pesticides, defoliants, that are ALL now on the EPA lists of toxins!

    Phoned Triage VA nurses December 6, 2009 about shortness of breath and coughing up bloody sputim. Called VA Triage nurses again January 10, 2010, about bloody sputim. Had an appointment for Feb. 6, 2010 for heart stress test. Went to emergency room of Winter Park (Fl) Memorial Hospital on Jan. 31, 2010, underwent quint bypass at Ginsberg Towers. Half my heart muscle is dead. Was 30-35% injection infraction index, and short of breath until hospitalization in 2013, when my civilian heart doctor informed me that I was now at 50-55% injection infraction index.

    VA has sent me to the civilian hospital 4 times, since I retired in 1985. But, each time, there with the VA authorizations, test result papers, in hand, all payments were denied by VA Means Testing, and charges were sometimes dumped onto my Credit Report.

    Twice, hospitals ate the costs of over $5200.00 each of three times, for gall bladder surgery, and two cases of congestive heart failure/pneumonia.

    The quint bypass of $162,500 was denied… It rides on my Credit Reports…

    My DD214 shows my 6 Viet Nam Campaigns, but, I fought from Thailand, the heavy
    test site for Agent Orange, that is denied by Congress (2003 NDA), and even the four flights over VN don’t count. I do have 11 of the 15 AO diseases, but, was denied access to the AO Registry. Diabetes Type II, Hypertension, Congestive Heart Failure, and nodes on the thyroid ARE on the AO list, along with some of the
    secondary diseases caused by them.

    Latest trouble with the VA is that many of us are also on TRICARE For Life, so have access to Express Scripts, at $13 per non-formulary prescription, versus the
    VA charge of $39 per 90 day issue, for my total of over $1560 per year! IF only, the VA doctors could write, FAX, or let me mail the prescriptions! In 2014, I paid EScripts
    $44 instead of the VA their $1560!

    Also, on Medicare when any veteran hits 65 and we go on Social Security, & the government deducts $109 per month for medical charges from our checks, but, we can’t get these other two programs run by the GOVERNMENT to fill our prescriptions! Unless, we co-pay a civilian doctor, for a complete diagnosis and prescriptions, annually, which the VA already does, charging us (less than 10% disabled) for the VA co-pay!

    IF we Veterans didn’t fight for this government, there might not still be a government!

    Three government programs compete to get our money, but NONE of them offer
    any real solutions that don’t cost the Veterans money! We Veterans are the collateral damage of corrupt policies in all three government medical programs!

  32. Most of the problems with filling prescriptions at any of the three Government programs that I am qualified, and PAY for, are way above the local VA authority to resolve!

    We have Medicare, Tricare, and “Service Connected VA”, but, getting any VA prescriptions to be filled in the Medicare or the Tricare Express Scripts systems is
    very difficult, if not impossible!

  33. I found that when I applied in an common wealth…I got denied and lied to. I moved to a REAL state and got approved the first time I applied with the help of the American Legion.

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