Saturday, February 4, 2012

The VA

Before my husband stepped away from the Army, we had heard horror stories about the care he could expect from the local VA hospital. Since my husband was medically retired, the VA is where he would get all his care. I bet you think that you are about to read yet another horror story, but keep reading...

Our time dealing with the VA started before my husband was even discharged from active duty. Crazy, I know. We had an appointment for C&P for his sleep apnea in Detroit, MI. The VA Hospital in Detroit is really big compared to our local one in Saginaw, MI. We drove about 3 hours to get there and after getting there realized we may need a little money for gas and to grab something to eat, as these appts can go for about 4 hours. My mother in law put some money into our bank account and that helped ease the stress and anxiety my husband was feeling. Turned out the whole appointment was only about 1 hour and as soon as my husband checked out, he was handed a piece of paper and given directions on where to go next. That piece of paper was called a travel voucher and when we turned it in, we totally ended up having enough for gas and a meal. It was all surreal as we had heard such stories of people not getting a travel voucher, the mileage being wrong, and a few other things.

Now we mostly deal with our local VA in Saginaw, MI. My husband on average has 3 appointments per month, but in the beginning it felt like his appointments were never ending. It started to feel like we lived at the VA and were only home maybe 2 days per week. I can see how in the beginning it can take a toll on someone and they would choose to just not go back.

We also heard so many stories of the care at the VA Hospital. People having appointments cancelled and not knowing until they got there, The Doctors and nurses being mean or just quick to make judgement, or the VA being a complete waste of time. Honestly now that we have been dealing with the VA for 7 months, I can say without a doubt that even though some people seem to have a hard time, we have had absolutely no issues.

After that first visit, my husband had quite a few more appointments in order for the VA to rate my Husband. They give you a rating and also find out what issues are service related and which are not. Again through all of these appointments e had no issues with any of the stories that we had heard. My husband received his first rating and started getting pay from the VA because it was more than his retirement. About a month later and after a few more appointments, my husband had his final rating.

We did have a small issue at one point because somehow only one of our children was showing up in the system. So we gathered the reuired paperwork, birth certificates, and our marraige liscense, went down to the VA, and in one afternoon got the other 3 children and myself added.Because his pay had been wrong, we received back pay and since then have had no issues.

My husband has an amazing team of Doctors at the VA and there is only one that I ould not mind making a change to. She can never start an appointment on time and always seems to be behind. With my husband having PTSD, waiting is not a strong point. She doesn't even say sorry for making us wait. So we may switch her out of his health care team, but maybe not. She is a great Doctor once she calls you back to her office.

I am not sure why so many people have issues with their local VA hospital. Maybe it is because we have stayed on top of everything, know that they will only see the patient for service connected things, and know the rules. Maybe the people with issues are just not talking to the right people or taking the right steps to fix an issue.

I am not done with posting about the VA, this was just a start. But first and foremost I needed to get a message out to some that although working with the VA can be different, that there are some that have had a great experience. Lesson learned: Don't believe everything that you hear. Until you yourself have had to deal with a local VA, you have no idea exactly how your experience will be.

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