Veterans eligible for health care coverage through the VA have a pretty sweet package available to them – if they know to enroll and jump through the appropriate hoops.
“This system is very complicated and I think we need to do better at trying to help people figure out how to get through,” said Cindy Butler, director of public affairs for the VA San Diego Health Care System. “And that’s what I’ve tried to do in my job – turn it into English, try not to have people use acronyms, all that kind of stuff, because it just puts people off.”
VASDHS (I know, I’m defying Butler’s acronym warning) has scaled back its efforts to connect with veterans and explain the care it offers, which could disproportionately affect older veterans. These days, members of the military about to leave active duty are required to take a transition workshop, during which federal VA officials lay out the benefits available. But there are plenty of clauses and crannies that can be intimidating to someone unfamiliar with the process.
Let’s break down what health care looks like for San Diego’s veteran community.
As long as someone has served in active military service for longer than 24 consecutive months, and left under conditions other than dishonorable, they likely qualify for VA health care benefits. New veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an even greater incentive to enroll.
The acronyms OEF, OIF, OND – Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn – refer to this group of veterans.
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When I was serving the buzz from my fellow sailors was you went to the VA to die: if you weren't sick enough, they would manage to make it so. I decided 3 months ago to go to the VA and see what they would say about hearing loss and tinnitis (from guns and loud engines on subs, etc.) So far I have not got an ID card or an appointment, but I have filled out a sh*tload (technical term) of forms and papers. Since I am over 70 years old and retired I decided I have the time to wait them out (assuming the grim reaper permits). I read a glowing article in the VFW magazine about their capability with hearing problems.
While the VA Health Care System in San Diego may not be a the top of the list of recent VA scandals, they have a number of problems just the same. I'm enrolled in the VA system for health care, and I've been trying (unsuccessfully) since November to have a VA Health Care ID issued to me. Each time I go in to have my photo taken, I'm told that the ID system is down, with no estimate as to when it will be running. And they won't tell me the status over the phone - I can only find out in person. I've wasted not a few visits so far.
One thing I couldn't gather from the article: it says coverage is for "injuries or illnesses “incurred or aggravated” during service". So does that mean vets have to have private insurance for everything that might happen after? And for every issue decide if they go to the VA or go somewhere else? That seems rather confusing, especially for vets that might be struggling.
@doug evans Thanks
@David Lynn No-those criteria only serve to establish a vet's eligibility. Once eligible and enrolled, any health issues that subsequently occur are served by VA health care, just as a civilian would have with private insurance.
I have received excellent care in La Jolla and Mission Valley. They are usually bugging me about appointments. I am usually the one cancelling. Please don't lump all VA Medical Centers based on what you hear on the news!
Our Mission Statement:
If you didn't die defending our country - we'll damn sure ensure you do waiting for an appointment.
@c_s_green Reading it now. Good stuff.
@TBMento Hey thanks, man!