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Jungle Boots
I am a veteran, and I hung these up a long time ago.
Last week I wrote about Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson voting against additional funding for the Veterans Health Administration. While writing that piece and while reading the comments, I realized that there is a gap in what we think we know about veterans, veterans health care and and what the facts really are.

First question to ask is, what is a veteran?

According to Webster's Dictionary, a veteran is a former member of the armed forces. If you served, you are a veteran. In that group you have guys like me—I did my four years, realized that military life was not for me and I got out. You have lifers who do 20 years or more and retire from the military.

Veteran Population Projection Model (VetPop) 2011.
More questions and answers below the fold.

Do all veteran's receive VA benefits?

If you serve under 20 years, you get the same benefits as those who served two, three, four or six-year enlistments. You get the GI Bill if you opted to participate, or if you qualify for other state programs. You qualify for VA home loans. You do not get a pension and you do not get health care unless you have a service-connected healthcare issue. If you did 20 years and retired, you get a pension (from the branch of service you were in, not the VA). You get healthcare through TRICARE, unless of course you have a service-connected healthcare issue. There are other circumstances in which a veteran may qualify for VA healthcare, and Wikipedia has a very easy-to-read and understand chart on who is and is not eligible. More on the service connected issues later.

How many veterans are there in the United States?

The projected veteran population is 21,973,000. That includes veterans going back to World War II like William Overton, the oldest living WWII veteran, as well as the young men and women who have recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and everyone who served in between those conflicts. Some are combat veterans, others served in the relative peace of the cold war.

Veteran Population Projection Model ( VetPop ) 2011
How many veterans receive VA Healthcare?

There are currently 8.93 million veterans receiving VA healthcare.

VA Benefits and Health Care Utilization
What is a service connected healthcare issue?

An injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. These disabilities are considered to be service-connected. Some examples: If you get shot in combat, that is a service-connected injury. If you went into the military and developed a heart condition while in, that is service-connected. If you bust your leg jumping out of an airplane while off-duty, that is not service-connected. This is not all of the possible conditions that could be considered service-connected. Think of it this way: If you were injured while on duty, it is service-connected. If you developed a healthcare issue while in the service, it is service-connected.

How many VA healthcare facilities are there?

There are 150 VA hospitals and 820 VA community-based outpatient clinics serving 8.3 million veterans.

VA Facilities
What is the difference between a VA community-based outpatient clinic and a VA hospital?

A VA Hospital is just what you think it is, a full-service hospital.

A Community-Based Outpatient Clinic is:

To make access to health care easier, VHA utilizes more than 800 Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) across the country. These clinics provide the most common outpatient services, including health and wellness visits, without the hassle of visiting a larger medical center. VHA continues to expand the network of CBOCs to include more rural locations, putting access to care closer to home.
How many healthcare professionals does the VA healthcare system employ?

53,000 licensed healthcare providers.

I could not find numbers on how that 53,000 breaks down over doctors, nurses and other licensed healthcare providers. What I do know is that 53,000 is likely not enough to serve the needs of the 8.93 million veterans eligible for care. Th VA needs an infusion of funding. More healthcare professionals need to be hired, more clinics and hospitals need to be built in order to serve all eligible veterans.

Voucher and privatization schemes heralded by the Republican Party will only drain funds from the VA and will starve an organization that is already not properly funded. As Democrats, we do not want to see Social Security and Medicare privatized or using vouchers, why would we want that same thing for the VA? The system can work well; however, we as a nation just need to make a decision. Do we want to provide the best possible care available to our nation's veterans, or do we want to see healthcare corporations profiting off of our veteran's wounds? Very simple questions. I know what I want to do, and that is to provide the best possible care available without profits going to some healthcare corporation.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I am going by the... (17+ / 0-)

      ...broadest definition of the term.

      While a dishonorable discharge negates any veteran's benefits it does not negate time served. That person is still a veteran, regardless of what they did to get a Less than Honorable, General, Bad Conduct or Dishonorable discharge.

      You just cannot go back in time and say they never served.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:36:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have to say, terminoligy leads to one of my (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mimi, Dbos, nolagrl, Orinoco, meg

        peeves -- such as when a veteran ( by definition of having served ) who did one or two enlistments is referred to as 'Retired Cpl/Sgt/Lt/Captain, etc'

         They did not do twenty plus years and receive a pension. As such, they are not 'retired', but 'former/ex Cpl/Sgt/Lt/Capt'
        I consider myself, after 24 years, retired. And am reminded once monthly when my pension is deposited in my account. My wife, who did 15 years, then quit does not recieve a pension. She is a 'former/ex E-5'

         Seems like making a big deal out  of small beans but it really does pick my butt when the lazy ass MSM interviews some guy who did one tour and call him 'retired'. He ain't retired -- he quit ( or was denied reenlistment ) for whatever reason. Or was medically retired -- which would, in all liklyhood, include monthly renumeration -- thus meeting the defination. Big difference ( aside from the obvious - some guy in his twenties is retired? huh? Shake your head ).

         While there are are many veterans -- most veterans are not 'retired veterans'.

         Again, it may seem like nitpicking, but if the media is covering a veterans issue, it's coverage has to be suspect if they start off on the wrong foot --where many will notice.

         My Sunday rant -- now back to the regularly scheduled World Cup game.....

        it tastes like burning...

        by eastvan on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 02:15:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eastvan, Orinoco, darleneh

          Since we're detailing, where do local/state law enforcement get off wearing Federal flags on their uniforms?  Wearing the flag indicates the individual is acting under Federal auspices, such as the military.

          As a retired officer, I beg everyone to demand that the military restrict the wear of the combat uniform to the troops in the combat zone.  

          Why?

          When stateside or OOT, combat uniforms denote aggression and potential action against civilians.  
          They depersonalize people, deny them the opportunity to display earned awards and rank.

          The visual triggers of being surrounded by people in combat uniform can trigger PTSD.  It is not conducive to readapting to a less stressful environment.  When your home station looks just like a war zone, it's hard to relax.

          In fact, the military's sartorial bend to 'constantly in attack mode' resulted from aging general officers in the 1980/90s   "Top Gun " syndrome.  As ex-CSAF McPeak was fond of saying. "If you dress like a warrior, you think like a warrior."  O-kay.....

          These people ARE warriors.  They don't need to dress up to know that.

          Ban the battledress. for their sakes.

          You can have freedom or ignorance. Never both. - me

          by nolagrl on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 06:28:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Another requirement for vets (0+ / 0-)

      to qualify for health care benefits is that their service needs to have been for a day or more during a period when the country was at war. This service time has nothing to do about wether or not you served in actual combat.

      Also, different wars have substantially different benefits. WW II vets have much better higher levels of benefits compared to Korean War vets. A Korean war vet who served months on the actual front line receives fewer benefits than a WW II vet who never served a day near any combat operations.

      VA benefits vary greatly depending on the individual war and also based on each individual's income.

      War is costly. Peace is priceless!

      by frostbite on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:38:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, not true (13+ / 0-)

        Please take a look at the chart on Wikipedia's page. You do not have to be in during a time of war to get VA healthcare.

        I did not serve during a time of war and the VA would have taken care of my neck surgery as it was service connected.

        "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

        by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:42:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Im a Korean War veteran who goes to the VA (0+ / 0-)

          I have been there a number of  times, and while I'm a combat vet, I go there with someone who never spent a day in combat, but on the other hand, he qualifies for many benefits that I do not have because he served during a deferent period.

          As is said in my 66 page Veterans Health Benefits Handbook, on page 4, "Health Benefits Are Different for Each Veteran--Including You."

          The VA Health System has 8 Priority classification. There are also means testing requirements.

          War is costly. Peace is priceless!

          by frostbite on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 07:47:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Total BS (5+ / 0-)

        I don't know where you are getting that but it is WRONG WRONG WORNG.

        THere is no nice way of saying that this is WRONG.

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:08:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Im a Korean War veteran who goes to the VA (0+ / 0-)

          I have been there a number of  times, and while I'm a combat vet, I go there with someone who never spent a day in combat, but on the other hand, he qualifies for many benefits that I do not have because he served during a deferent period.

          As is said in my 66 page Veterans Health Benefits Handbook, on page 4, "Health Benefits Are Different for Each Veteran--Including You."

          The VA Health System has 8 Priority classifications. There are also means testing requirements.

          War is costly. Peace is priceless!

          by frostbite on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 07:50:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Doesnt make you less wrong (0+ / 0-)

            making up crap about the VA and Veterans benefits is just that - crap.  ANYONE and EVERYONE who serves honorably is a Veteran.  All veterans are potentially eligible for VA care.  That said, service related injuries and injuries sustained during combat are treated differently.  

            Your VA handbook is exactly right - benefits are INDIVIDUAL and depend on the INDIVIDUAL veteran.  

            It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

            by ksuwildkat on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 08:20:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Why doesn't the government collapse it? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco, keyscritter

    And fold the VA functions into the existing standard medical insurance system?  Oh, it's because they want to treat each war victim on 10$ a month I imagine.  Why else?  

    What's the difference between the Federal government and organized crime? One's legally sanctioned.

    by FrankenPC on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:08:54 AM PDT

    •  do the math $5-10K/patient (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keyscritter, FrankenPC

      http://www.va.gov/...

      Top Line  $163 Billion.

      Medical care  $59 Billion

      Medical Care
      Increases access to healthcare and keeps VA on track to meet its
      priority goal to end Veteran homelessness in 2015
       2015 Medical Care: $59.1 billion (including $3.1 billion in collections)
      for Veterans medical care (up $1.8 billion over 2014)
       2016 Medical Care: $58.7 billion for the 2016 advance appropriation
      request (up $2.7 billion over 2015 request)
       Homelessness: $1.6 billion (up $248 million from 2014) for VA’s
      integrated plan to end Veteran homelessness, including $500 million
      for the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program
       Mental Health: $7.2 billion (up $309 million from 2014) to expand
      inpatient, residential, and outpatient mental health care
       Long-term Care: $7.0 billion (up $235 million from 2014) to expand
      institutional and non-institutional long-term care services
       Telehealth: $567 million (up $23 million from 2014) for home
      telehealth to improve access to care
       Women Veterans: $403 million (up $32 million from 2014)
       Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans: $4.2 billion (up $501 million from
      2014) to meet the needs of over 757,000 Veterans returning from U.S.
      operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
      http://www.va.gov/...

      here the VA lists themselves as having 6.7 Million patients.

      $59 Billion medical budget,  6.7 Million patients.
      That's about $10K/Patient

      i've seen $5K before, so the number is probably between those.

      http://www.va.gov/...

      there are some official 23 Million vets but VA is only treating
      in their system 1/4 of them.

      I suspect a lot of other vets get their care elsewhere.

      Personally i'd expand and levelize the VA system with DoD and Indian Health Care.  Make it so it's one big system
      and the Vets can go to any DoD health system or DoD can go to VA,  and then i'd expand that so it becomes the baseline for Federal employees and federal contractors.

    •  Private insurance is more expensive. Add in tha... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      darleneh, meg

      Private insurance is more expensive. Add in that vets tend to be medically complex and the va is a bargain for all of us.

  •  Excellent/informative diary (18+ / 0-)

    This one's a keeper.

    Thank you, sir.

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:09:33 AM PDT

  •  VA care varies widely by state (9+ / 0-)

    For example, MA seems to provide excellent, timely care and doesn't have the secret list problem of AZ.

    "Let there be song to fill the air." R. Hunter

    by RUKind on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:12:32 AM PDT

    •  It is likely that... (4+ / 0-)

      ...MA has more doctors available as it is a more populated area that AZ.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:29:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, No. The VA rules are uniform (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc, grover

        throughout the country.Some of the smaller facilities are located in small population centers, while some of the larger facilities are located in highly populated areas. There can be vast differences in quality of services because politics have much to do regarding where they are located.

        Also, it's likely that there are differences in each practitioner's professional qualifications. Just as there is in the entire health industry.

        War is costly. Peace is priceless!

        by frostbite on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:49:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The rules may be uniform... (7+ / 0-)

          ...but if you don't have the staff in a given location, you don't have the staff.

          "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

          by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:58:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or, if you have a staff that is willing to connive (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grover

            and diddle the books to look good on performance reviews, you have despicable service. More staff would help but is not sufficient.

            Every human being has paid the earth to grow up. Most people don’t grow up. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth.—Maya Angelou

            by TerryDarc on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:08:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It is called title 38 and it is a rule of law but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            meg

            depending on what Veteran integrated service network you are stuck in and how honorable the oversight of these VISN groups are depend on how good a care you get.
            Not all VA'a are equal but should be.  A mandate that should be enforced.

            And to stand with Mark... No you do not have to be a war time era to receive medical care at the VA but could you tell me when we have not been in some sort of conflict since WWII?  Shoot, Vietnam was not a declared war.  It was considered a police action for how many years?

            Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

            by Vetwife on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 02:54:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Because the main VHA health complex is an (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover

      extension of (as with most if not all Boston hospitals) the Harvard Medical and Public Health schools).  I believe that most residents (medical residencies) are rotated through the VHA.

      "We know too much to go back and pretend" - Helen Reddy (humble cosmos shaker)

      by ditsylilg on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:34:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Massachusetts' health reform law meant that for (5+ / 0-)

      the past several years, it's had a high rate of health insurance coverage (possibly highest in the nation).  This means that veterans living in Massachusetts are more likely than those in other states to have full coverage in the civilian health care system, and this may have let out some of the "steam" from the overload in the VA.  

      Massachusetts also has many state-sponsored benefits for veterans, including two Soldiers' Homes providing long-term care for veterans, and I believe the attached hospitals serve veterans who don't reside there.  

      I found this on the mass.gov site, summarizing state-sponsored veterans' benefits.  

      Massachusetts veterans

      Just a reminder that Massachusetts is a blue state that does what it can to look after its veterans, it'd be nice to see a few red states put their money where their mouths are.  

      •  Red states loves their warriors a-warrin' (6+ / 0-)

        But doesn't much care about all that non-romantic stuff that happens after they comes home. Then, I think the disabled vets are supposed to get food baskets from their church.

        Every human being has paid the earth to grow up. Most people don’t grow up. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth.—Maya Angelou

        by TerryDarc on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:24:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bridge Master

        Plus, if you have health insurance, you can still get treated by a VA hospital - they get reimbursed by the insurance company just like any other hospital, i.e. it helps the VA budget when they treat vets with alternate health insurance/medicare/etc.

        That's probably more common in states like Mass. where just about everyone is covered by some sort of health insurance.

        Less so in red states, especially ones that didn't expand medicaid. We taxpayers pick up some of the VA tab for these RW fruitcake redstate governors.

        Thanks a lot King Obummer.

  •  If we had a national health care scheme (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sybil Liberty, ichibon, SGA, TerryDarc, Tunk, mimi

    the VA medical facilities would not be needed as much. That is most primary care could be provided by local doctors. However, even in these countries, all veterans get the treatment they need for all ailments. The presumption is that military service increases health risks and shortens life expectancy.

    My problem is is getting to see a doctor at all. I am Priority One, but have only recently had the need to use VA. To get the initial appointment has taken 70+ days so far and still counting. More funding would help but I do think that there is no excuse for not giving someone a scheduled appointment, even if it is far in the future. This failure speaks as much to the incompetent VA management as it does to the funding and facilities.

    One other note: the people who are most damaged by wars are as often as not the short-timers. We are the ones who served as fodder, executed the plans and took most of the risks. Even the vaunted SOG, Delta, Ranger teams are made up largely of people who serve 4 to 10 years and get nothing, except basic benefits.

    And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

    by shigeru on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:24:10 AM PDT

    •  If you don't have the funds... (12+ / 0-)

      ...you cannot hire the doctors. If you can't hire enough doctors, you have 70 day waits for appointments.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:28:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The VA, as well as just about every health care... (0+ / 0-)

        The VA, as well as just about every health care system/company in the US, is competing for a very limited number of new physicians each year. Additional money wouldn't help all that much. Some docs move to VA work when they are older to avoid having to take night and weekend call.

    •  Indeed... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SGA, mimi
      The presumption is that military service increases health risks and shortens life expectancy.
      ...it does when the vet has seen combat duty

      "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

      by Sybil Liberty on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:31:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Getting to see a doctor (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shigeru, RMForbes, meg

      I'm a vet who receives health care through the VA. I also care for my 86 year old mother who has private insurance. When I called on 20 Jun for an appointment for her, the earliest one I could get was 0800 on 4 Aug.
      In the meantime, we do the best we can. Our lack of national healthcare is scandalous. And it ain't just the VA.

      •  Great point. (0+ / 0-)

        It has taken my wife 2.5 months to see a neuro. However, the neuro was at least able to schedule an appointment. I cannot even get that out of the VA. Nothing. Nada. Nichts. ぜんぜん。

        I do hear that once one gets in the system the VA can be quite good. My complaint and what I believe points to bad management is that they cannot even schedule someone for an appointment manually inside of 70+ days.

        And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

        by shigeru on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 03:32:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  No Doubt More Funding Needed, BUT... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jgilhousen, Orinoco

    The numbers can be deceiving.  While there may be 8 million plus enrolled, I'm not sure all are using the system or if they see the VA as their primary health care.

    I have been using the VA Health Care System since January 2012 when my blood pressure shot up due to having to stop taking the medication during a long period of unemployment.  Before that, the one and only time I used it was in 1977.   This in spite of the fact -- or maybe because of the close contact I had with the VA system as a whole -- that I worked for over fifteen years in my early career on Vietnam Veterans issues!

    I have few complaints about the care I've received from the VA.  In fact, I just picked up health insurance from my new job as program manager in a nonprofit -- a crappy HMO plan that has significant co-pays and deductibles and an out-of-pocket cap that is 15% of my salary!  And in this coastal community of Santa Cruz with few health care options, traveling an hour to the Monterey VA Clinic actually makes sense.  So I will continue to use the VA system while having the health insurance as a back-up to unapproved non-VA costs like ambulance rides and urgent care issues for which I can't get VA approval.

    The VA care I have received cost me less than $600 in the last two years.  This year, with some significant health issues in the Spring, it's close to $1,000 at the half-way point -- the cost of getting older (LOL!) (though I am still paying that off as I recover from the long unemployment).  Can't complain about that, for sure!

    While it might be more convenient for some to have the VA benefits turned into a Medicare type plan, it would not sufficiently address service-connected veterans issues and -- like siphoning away healthy people from Medicare/Medicaid -- would reduce the resources available to those veterans!  So I'll just continue with my one hour drives down the coast to Monterey or up to Palo Alto VA Medical Center as needed, thank you!

  •  A correction (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whl, Tunk, mikidee, Vetwife
    You do not get a pension and you do not get health care unless you have a service-connected healthcare issue.
    This is not true.

    As the helpful chart in Wikipedia (the same chart available from the VA itself) points out:

    Group 5    

        Nonservice-connected Veterans and noncompensable service-connected Veterans rated 0 percent, whose annual income and/ or net worth are not greater than the VA financial thresholds.

    Group 7    

        Veterans with incomes below the geographic means test income thresholds and who agree to pay the applicable copayment.

    Group 8    

        Veterans with gross household incomes above the VA national income threshold and the geographically-adjusted income threshold for their resident location and who agrees to pay copayments.

    Veterans eligible for enrollment: Noncompensable 0-percent service-connected and:
    ...
    Veterans NOT eligible for enrollment: Veterans not meeting the criteria above: Subpriority e: Noncompensable 0 percent service-connected Subpriority f: Nonservice-connected

    "Nonservice-connected" in group 5 and 8 refers to non-service connected disabilities, group 7 has a means test, but is not related to disabilities or health care issues at all, and finally, in a seeming contradiction, veterans in group 8 who are NOT eligible are in fact eligible, last in line, but still eligible, if there are sufficient funds to enroll them.

    If a veteran enrolls, the 'health insurance' requirements of the ACA are met in full, and there is no monthly premium charged for enrolling in VA health care, only co-payments for using the service.

    Co-payments are low: $15 for primary care physicians or nurses, $50 for specialists, $9 for a months supply of prescription medicine. (The physician or specialist co-pay is charged per day, not per person seen, so you might, for example, get immunizations from a physician's assistant, blood tests drawn by a nurse, see your primary care doctor, and see a specialist, and only be charged $50, since that's the highest co-pay for the day.)

    I strongly urge any veteran who is not currently enrolled in the VA, to visit the nearest VA facility, DD214 in hand, to see whether that facility can enroll you.

    Whether they can or not, of course, depends on the amount of funding the VA gets, so they don't always get all the way to the bottom of the eligibility list, but it won't hurt to check.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:44:07 AM PDT

    •  As I stated in the diary: (0+ / 0-)
      There are other circumstances in which a veteran may qualify for VA healthcare, and Wikipedia has a very easy-to-read and understand chart on who is and is not eligible. More on the service connected issues later.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:46:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  VA benefits are limited by the budget given to the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oofer, Garfnobl, radmul

      VA, that means it is NOT an entitlement program.  What you're referring to are priority classes.  To stay within its budget, the VA establishes priority classes, and accepts for treatment those within the highest priority groups(s).  ALL the rest are eligible, but non-priority.  With more money, it could serve the other veterans.

      Compare this to Medicare, which is an entitlement program.  Though Medicare has to try to stay within a budget, it HAS to provide coverage for all who are eligible.

      This is also a reason that VA care costs tend to be higher than they would under Medicare.  There'd be some question about whether the cost of giving care to a group of veterans v. caring for civilians could ever be anything but an apples-to-oranges comparison. There is clearly NO way to compare the cost of caring for the sickest, poorest veterans to the cost of caring for a general, civilian Medicare population.  

    •  VA health care benefits are "means tested" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jgilhousen, Orinoco

      There are co-pays based on the range of categories (one through eight), and some veterans have to complete a financial statement. This is summary described at the Veterans Affairs website "Health Benefits" section.

      As of March 24, 2014, most Veterans are no longer required to complete the annual financial assessment known as a Means Test.  Instead, VA will receive income information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA), and will contact the Veterans only if the information received indicates a change in their VA health benefits may be appropriate.  The elimination of the annual means test frees enrolled Veterans to enjoy their VA health care benefits without worrying about completing annual income assessment forms. Under the new process, Veterans will be required to have one financial assessment on file – their current file if they’re already enrolled, or the assessment they provide when they apply. That assessment will be maintained and monitored by VA and updated only as substantial income changes occur.

      We're all just working for Pharaoh.

      by whl on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:16:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Over 65 and poor (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RMForbes, Orinoco

      You get health care and a pension. I haven't paid a co pay yet in 5 years

      "The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy." Kurt Vonnegut - "A Man Without a Country", 2005.

      by BOHICA on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:19:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why only veterans? (7+ / 0-)

    I'm retired USAF. The military treated me very well. I enjoy a good job working as a DOD contractor today working in IT. My situation is not uncommon.
    I think everyone should have access to medical care, veteran or not. We live in a country where 30,000 US citizens die each year due to not having insurance. Where is the outrage?  
    I get it, veterans deserve healthcare, so does everyone else. THAT should be the narrative here.

    •  That... (6+ / 0-)

      ...is for another diary.

      I completely agree with you; however, a single payer system is just not going to happen anytime soon.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:57:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, a deal's a deal. Also, you are probably not (0+ / 0-)

      in a priority class that would allow you to be served by the VA.  I'm assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that your IT job earns enough that you can afford health insurance, and that your physical condition doesn't classify you as disabled.  

    •  Well veterans you know have a whole (0+ / 0-)

      lot of service connected injuries and multiple forms and civilians do not as a whole necessarily.   A civilian may have health issues bit as a whole they do not suffer mutliple injuries and trauma which is speciality care and better handled in a VA facility.

      I agree everyone deserves healthcare... But I do not agree privatizing it is an answer.  I do not believe the Private sector can even start to identify with half the problems Veterans have.....

      Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 02:59:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I often hear Republicans (6+ / 0-)

    in the act of voting against VA Benefits that voting for would create another "entitlement." with the intent to invoke every negative aspect of the word.  VA Benefits are not an entitlement - in the Republican sense - they are an earned benefit.  Something paid for with blood sweat and tears and not adequately delivered because of people like Sen. Jeff Sessions are worried that someone - who worked and sacrificed more than they ever thought too - might take a little slice of their pie.

    •  They are earned benefits, as is Social Security. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RMForbes

      An "entitlement" is used as a pejorative term, but legally its a benefit that must be given regardless of how much the agency has been budgeted.  So, if you have Medicare (also an earned benefit), they can't say to you, 'Sorry, your surgery does qualify for coverage, but we ran out of money last week.  Come back next year, and hope you're first in line.'

      VA benefits SHOULD be entitlements, but they're not.  The VA has to manage within its budget.  That's why the priority categories.  

  •  I have VA medical benifits (6+ / 0-)

    You said: "If you serve under 20 years, you get the same benefits as those who served two, three, four or six-year enlistments. You get the GI Bill if you opted to participate, or if you qualify for other state programs. You qualify for VA home loans. You do not get a pension and you do not get health care unless you have a service-connected healthcare issue."

    I served a 4 year active duty enlistment in the Navy during the Vietnam war. I was honorably discharged and I do not have a service related injury, yet I have full medical benefits through the VA.  Because of my level of income I have a small share of costs ($15 for a doctor visit and $8 for prescriptions). I think what you said above is incorrect.

    •  That is why I said... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber

      ...to look at the chart Wikipedia has. There are a lot of variables - and I was covering the general rules.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:59:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Qualifications and links aside (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cka

        The body of this diary states:

        If you serve under 20 years... you do not get health care unless you have a service-connected healthcare issue
        Which is just plain flat out not true. And could discourage veterans from finding out that the fine print at the link means they CAN get health care.

        In fact, the general rule is:
         If you are a veteran you may qualify for health care if you have anything but a dishonorable discharge.

        Telling veterans they must have a service-connected health care issue is doing them a disservice.

        I urge any veterans not currently enrolled in VA health care to take their DD214 to the nearest VA medical facility and check to see if they can be enrolled. Even if you have private insurance, having a VA team on your side to oversee your medical treatment, do preventive tests and treatments (and handle billing your insurance carrier) can be worth it all on it's own.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 12:27:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Did you not read this sentence? (0+ / 0-)
          There are other circumstances in which a veteran may qualify for VA healthcare, and Wikipedia has a very easy-to-read and understand chart on who is and is not eligible. More on the service connected issues later.

          "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

          by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 01:55:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Mark (2+ / 0-)

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:03:04 AM PDT

  •  Two things not mentioned: 1) Many of the VA com... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nickrud

    Two things not mentioned: 1) Many of the VA community clinics are run by private for profit companies, which put in the lowest bid. 2) VA community clinic docs are not allowed to do a number of procedures or prescribe certain drugs, etc, even if that doctor is qualified to handle them. If a Vet needs these procedures or drugs, then he/she still has to drive the hundreds of miles to the big VA hospital to be seen by a specialist. Some opt to see a local specialist instead, if they have other insurance.

  •  Very useful reminder... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen

    Thanks for a very useful summary and reminder that lots of terms -- veterans, military retirees, VA medical care, TRICARE, -- get tossed around without precise definitions.  This helps put these different categories into context.  You see the same thing with many discussions of federal (and state and local) retirees (full disclosure -- I'm a federal retiree).  Too often, the anti-benefit arguments are anecdotal (sometimes purposefully misleading), based on some exception to the rule rather than the average recipient of a pension, healthcare, or whatever.  

    •  VA Healthcare.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marktheonegun

      ...is also one of the most difficult things to nail down as well as there are general rules of thumb, and a whole lot of exceptions.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:14:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, and then they expect their (0+ / 0-)

        traumatized vets to do it like with a snap of the finger.

        I thought Tricare is only for active duty military and not for Veterans. VA Healthcare Benefits are not the same as Tricare coverage, right?

        I have a Vet as son and though he gets now VA Healthcare benefits, I and he still don't understand, what is covered and where and if everything is covered that is NOT service related, like most of the general health things are for Vets that are not wounded in combat.

        It was a nightmare to find out how you get the VA healthcare benefits and if you can't do it by yourself you are put down as "PTSD"-like unfit.

        Oh shit, I don't want to think about this nightmare again. In the end he got the VA healthcare benefits and I don't know who he found who helped him in the end to get into it. I think it was two years or more after he left the military. Funny, eh?

        We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

        by mimi on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 02:36:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As Test Vet - Mike Bailey [RIP] - always said (14+ / 0-)

    Never create a Veteran. We're expensive to maintain, we complain all the time, a bunch of us act crazy, and another bunch are drunks. But, no matter how bad we act or how bad we look, we always look good posing with one politician or another.

    The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:25:17 AM PDT

  •  Does "VA Pension" = VA Aid & Assistance Program? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco, Glen The Plumber

    I'm sure you will discuss this in a future diary.

    My late father-in-law was a Korean War vet and ultimately qualified for the Aid & Assistance program. It was a great financial boost, as he had exhausted all savings.

    As I recall, the application process was somewhat byzantine. We were fortunate to have the help of the state VA Ombudsman.

    •  It could be... (4+ / 0-)

      ...but just trying to figure out the healthcare stuff was hard enough, I am not sure I have the fortitude to research VA pensions, Aid and Assistance, and various other programs. I am willing to bet that even people working for the VA don't even know all of what is available.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - George W. Andersen - my late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:42:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  VA Pensions (0+ / 0-)

        are based on the level of disability of the veteran.

        For example, a vet that is considered 50% disabled with a service-connected disability will receive less of a monthly payment than one with a 100% disabling injury..

        The pension, once approved, is for life.

        "There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result." - Winston Churchill

        by Dingodude on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 12:05:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  some details - (0+ / 0-)

          two possible payments: service connected compensation - the one you're mentioning - and non-service connected disability pension.

          The first is based on how serviced connected injuries have altered a vet's life, and that is why it's called compensation, not a pension. And you can lose it. After 10 years its pretty damned hard, but since it's compensation, if your injury becomes less debilitating the compensation level can go down.

          The second is a pension for low income over 64 veterans, or younger veterans who are 100 disabled, not due to something that happened in the service. To qualify for this the minimum requirement is serving during a wartime period.

      •  You'd probably win your bet (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oofer, Mark E Andersen

        if you picked some random VA employee. I found clerks at the VA Hospital Business office to be very knowledgable about VA health programs and benefits.

        There are a lot of nooks and crannies in such a large organization, but the people I've talked to have been professional, and know their jobs well, and know where to send you when what you want isn't part of their job. Yeah, it would be nice if there were a single one-stop-shopping office, but, given the size of the VA and the number of programs they administer, I don't think that's feasible.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 12:07:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And I would double your bet ... /nt (0+ / 0-)

        We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

        by mimi on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 02:38:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  the key to knowing who to talk to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        meg

        at the va is to never forget that the Benefits department and the Health Care departments are separate. Don't waste your time talking to the health care side about benefit eligibility - it's not something that they're trained in nor should the be expected to know it.

    •  Some points of clarification... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SGA, skepticalcitizen, nickrud

      The program you are talking about is called Aid and Attendance. It is some extra money to be used to help the veteran pay for care at home. Aid and Attendance (A&A) can be awarded in a few different ways. I would refer you to a Veteran Service Officer (VSO) for further assistance on this.

      I have been seeing people refer to service-connected disability payments as a pension. It is not. It is compensation. Pension is usually used to describe a program for non-service connected veterans (NSC). The veteran must be of wartime service (did not necessarily have to fight in combat). It is means tested.

      So to recap. You have service-connected compensation and non-service connected pension. Ironically, it's actually easier to get A&A with non-service connected pension. Service-connected compensation is a little trickier for some reason. Again see a VSO for help. They are a very good resource.

      Hope this helps a bit.

      This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in-T. Roosevelt

      by DoctorRobert on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 01:20:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •   No. In a word (0+ / 0-)

      A and A is pretty hard to get.. TestVet got his about three months before his death.. I have been trying for years.
      My husband has been 100 percent total and permanent for 20 years...Total and permanent is a qualification of disabled along with housebound or needing aid consistently of another which we qualify for but guess what.. the VISN area we are in are  Shit.

      Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

      by Vetwife on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 03:06:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This was in today's Big O (0+ / 0-)

    I'd be interested to know folks' opinions.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/...

  •  The disfunction goes way beyond the VA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover

    In addition to serving veterans, the DOD provides services to members of the military and their families and that system may be even worse than the system that serves veterans.

    In Military Care, a Pattern of Errors but Not Scrutiny

    Little known beyond the confines of the military community, the Pentagon’s medical system has recently been pushed into the spotlight. In late May, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of all military hospitals, saying he wanted to determine if they had the same problems that have shaken the veterans system.

    The Times’s examination, based on Pentagon studies, court records, analyses of thousands of pages of data, and interviews with current and former military health officials and workers, indicates that the military lags behind many civilian hospital systems in protecting patients from harm. The reasons, military doctors and nurses said, are rooted in a compartmentalized system of leadership, a culture of interservice secrecy and an overall failure to make patient safety a top priority.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 12:43:25 PM PDT

    •  Yes. This. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      Absolutely.

      Half of the military’s largest hospitals performed worse than established benchmarks in categories such as infections or improperly done procedures, according to a review from the American College of Surgeons. The college compared each hospital with an expected rate of complications based on the procedures it performed and what kinds of patients it served from July 2012 to June 2013.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 01:05:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  See best care anywhere and health of nations fr... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      meg

      See best care anywhere and health of nations from American prospect. The va is not dod. The average vet is sicker than the population at large but va care is higher quality and lower cost.

      As a staff nurse I spent a lot of time working on helping vets get appointments.

  •  Too Few Primary Care Physicians (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HM2Viking, SGA

    The New York Times reported last month that the V.A. has 5100 primary care physicians. That works out to one primary care physician for every 1751 veterans who are enrolled in the V.A. Healthcare system, a ratio which obviously is unworkable.

    My anecdotal experience suggests that the problem with delays in getting appointments is probably more acute in areas which have a large number of younger veterans (Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan). At the Castle Point V.A. Center in New York, the veterans I see are mostly Vietnam War veterans like me, along with some Korean War veterans. I see very few young veterans there. At Castle Point it can take a month or so to get an appointment with a specialist but primary care is faster.

    Incidentally, the V.A. can get reimbursement from private health insurers but it does not get anything from Medicare.

    •  ...There is a dearth of doctors nationwide... (0+ / 0-)

      ...where I live this has always been the case. Now it's worse because a good number of them refuse to accept any patients who have a individual health insurance plan if bought via the ACA exchanges, even though it's the same thing for the doctors = they have contracts with the for-profit health insurance companies for what they'll be paid.

      Around here there are only two choices = Anthem BlueCross and BlueShield. The weird thing is doctors get paid 3% MORE for people with plans bought through the ACA exchanges compared to those that have the same plans bought outside of the exchanges. Where I live that exchange is called Covered California.

      So, even though doctors literally are paid BETTER, a number of them refuse to accept people like me due purely to their political beliefs. Stupid and short sighted. But it makes having a primary care doctor nearly impossible where I live. The ones we have here all have closed practices. Suddenly a bunch of folks were kicked out by their doctors just because they got a health insurance policy through the exchanges. Where can they go now? Nowhere. They can only go to a doc-n-a-box deal, but they don't have their own primary care doctor anymore.

      GOP folks really do mess things up purely out of spite sometimes...

      Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

      Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

      by paradise50 on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 02:49:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark E Andersen, KayCeSF

    Veterans/active troops and their various issues need more visibility in American society. Too many American forget we have active troops serving at home and abroad -- especially in theater -- and need to be reminded.

    Even on dkos, there is often an inclination among some to turn away when presented with the large budgets and complicated issues that caring for active troops and veterans require (although most are incredibly supportive, especially given how anti-war we are generally).

    The more we raise these issues and get each other talking here, the more informed we are and can take that message into the streets.

    I know my friends and family are generally tired of hearing me talk about veterans issues. But they're at the point that when congressional members vote down benefits, they're the first to notice, get outraged and make phone calls.

    So thank you.

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 12:58:06 PM PDT

  •  I'm a veteran of a 1000 psychic wars (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HM2Viking

    No, seriously, though, they do consider me a Cold Warrior.

    "You can't run a country by a book of religion. Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." Frank Zappa

    by Uosdwis on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 01:43:11 PM PDT

  •  Please Help (0+ / 0-)

    Please help us and tell Rep. Bradley Byrne (of Alabama) to support expanding Medicaid Please call Phone: (251) 690-2811 Phone: (251) 972-8545 phone: (202) 225-4931 fax: (202) 225-0562 or use his facebook page (let him have it) https://www.facebook.com/...

    Please help us and tell Governor (of Alabama) Bentley to expand Medicaid.  Here’s his contact number 334-242-7100 or fax 334-353-0004. You can also use facebook or Twitter  https://twitter.com/... and https://www.facebook.com/...  

  •  I am service connected disabled, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HM2Viking, meg

    thank you for your informative diary.  I got no complaints with the VA since 1971 they have done what they said they would do and that is to help with my issues.

  •  Low income veterans can get care without (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HM2Viking, meg

    having a service connected disability. You must complete a means test annually and pay small co-payments but you can get care at VA facilities.

  •  Agent Orange and Camp LeJeune (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RMForbes, meg

    It is important for Vets to stay current on recent findings associated with their service whether they served in a war zone or not.

    For example, one of my friends and fellow vets served in Davisville, Rhode Island and the South Pole.  Pretty far from war zones.  EXCEPT, Davisville has been declared by the EPA as a Superfund site for Agent Orange during the period he served.  He has a number of unexplainable (based on genetic inheritance and lifestyle) illnesses.  As it turns out, a few of these have been linked to Agent Orange.

    Camp LeJeune had a number of issues.  If you served there in any branch of the service for more than 30 days, you should spend some time with a veteran's advocate group to assess your exposures and possible remedies.

  •  LeJeune (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HM2Viking, paradise50, meg

    Poisoned water there for many years. Vets and families can be compensated and treated for conditions related to exposure. Any Vet center or State benefit office can help. Also any eligible veteran who  has a health problem can go to the local ER at the VA and be seen 24 7. I don't get the appointment waits. Just go to the fking ER if your sick. Little wait and immediate f/u.  You don't need to wait for a primary Care appt. This is from the voice of having worked in a VA setting for 28 years.

  •  Some medical conditions automatically service c... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    meg

    Some medical conditions automatically service connect.

    diabetes for agent orange exposure is one example.

    military sexual trauma victims are automatically eligible for care.

    neuromuscular diseases such as als. Service connect for anyone with at least 90 days active duty.

    Very low income vets are eligible for medical care. When I worked for the va I always emphasized the importance of the VA as a safety net for vets.

    I know for a fact that I saw many vets who had zero service connection rating and still received care.

    My point is that all veterans should apply for medical care.

  •  I'm an honorably discharged Vietnam Veteran (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    meg

    I was in the Air Force as an aircraft weapons specialist. I was in for 4 years and did 1 year at Nakhon Phanom (NKP) in Thailand servicing A-1 fighters for search and rescue. Because I was in theater I am considered a Vietnam veteran and actually was in country (Vietnam) for 1 day during a return trip to NKP from Ubon, Thailand.

    In 1986 when I was 35 I had to use the VA medical facilities because I didn't have private insurance. They misdiagnosed a herniated disc as a colonic hernia. Because of that I never received treatment for the herniated disc. So if I had private insurance would things have turned out differently? It's hard to say since even with private insurance doctors misdiagnose all the time. Later on when I had private insurance I was misdiagnosed for an infected salivary gland which turned out to be a cracked tooth that became infected. Late in 2006 I started having severe pain in my neck and back and I was no longer able to work as an electrician and telecom tech which I did for most of my adult life after my military service. Also when I was 53 I fell out the back of a truck which agravated my spinal injusry. Finally in 2007 when I was 56 I had to apply for social security disability (SSDI). Even though I had a lawyer and legitimate medical proof it took almost 5 years to receive SSDI. I receive medicare but still use the VA to get my medications because the VA copays are less than medicare copays. In 2015 I will turn 65 so my SSDI will change to social security and I will receive the same amount I get now. I have heard that younger people receiving SSDI might have problems since the SSDI trust fund according to the actuarials will be exhausted in 2016 unless congress reauthorizes the trust fund.
    I have a primary care doctor in the private sector that is covered by medicare that I use if I have any urgent needs.

    I would say that all things considered my experience with the VA while not excellent can only be described as poor to fair. Because I have been in the VA system for the past 12 years I would consider the care I have received during that time adequate.

    Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering. If you like hypocrite Obama, you'll love hypocrite Hillary.

    by harris stein on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 11:16:03 AM PDT

    •  You make an excellent point about Medicare. (0+ / 0-)

      I have encouraged many of my patients with Medicare to use it to get local care for all manner of issues, including primary care. For many of the vets in my area, they must travel a good distance to get care. Taking advantage of Medicare coverage is something that many simply don't think to do.

      Another option for getting care closer to home or getting needed medical treatment (including emergency care) when it is not available at the local VA is the "fee-basis" program. Of course, there are qualifications, but at the present moment, I know that my facility is approving fee-basis care much more frequently because our facility cannot reasonably accommodate some immediate needs, particularly for surgeries. It's always worth looking into.  

      Here's a tiny bit of information about the program. More information can be found here.

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