If It is Broken, I Say Fix It

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As many of you know, AOC made a comment about the VA over the past week.  She said ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’  Well as many of you know, the VA is very broken and needs to be fixed and quickly.  Though we all know that will take time to fix, and it is on its way, people need to understand what the problems are.  I spoke to several Veterans, some of which use it as a primary source of medical needs, others use it but have no serious medical issues so it is just enough to get by, others used it, but then dropped it and got their own healthcare.  After hearing what they had to say, I feel that people need to understand what goes on in the workings of the VA system.

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We will start with my hometown, Georgia.  I have a friend who has used them for quite a while.   There is a main VA in Atlanta and there are several smaller clinics located throughout the metro area and I assume lower regions of the state.  When asked how long it takes when you go to an appointment, “If you have a 8 am appointment usually you’ll be there for a hour or two, the later the appointment the longer the wait is, I try making my appointments as early as possible.”  If you are really sick you can go to the ER at the VA and get moved to the front of the line, but things like broken bones and just being sick with a minor illness is a different story.  He has had 6-7 primary care doctors in the time he has been going, they have a lack of doctors and he is supposed to have a regular doctor, but they usually just move to other hospitals, mostly out of the VA system.  The ER in Atlanta has about 50 plus or minus beds so that makes things a bit tricky when they are full.

If something bad happened to him, if he had to go to the ER, he would go to our local hospital or the closest ER, then once stable he would be transferred to the VA.  The good thing is there is a program called the Choice Program.  Normally getting some type of annual testing, like a colonoscopy or EGD, the appointment would take months to get at the VA, he said he can get approved for a outside doctors facility to have it done in a timely manner, but before that program he could not, he would have to wait sometimes years to get it done.  He also said, “You can say things have gotten better since President Trump has taken office, and I feel they’ll get better in the future as long as a fkn liberal don’t screw it up again!”  He also said they are different in other states, “I’d rather go to the Nashville VA hospital,” hence why I wanted a variety of Veterans in different states to tell me how their VA is.  He said the VA isn’t the worst, but it needs to be better.

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Next lets look at Manitowoc County, Wisconsin.  There is a main one and several smaller clinics.  The main VA hospital is in Milwaukee, which is 100 plus miles away, there is a VA clinic 40 miles away, and another about 30 miles away.  The 30 mile away one is a much nicer facility than the 40 mile away one.  He said, “If I was still on VA healthcare, I would have to use the VA clinics unless I was dying or had a severe debilitating cold, I would still have to call the VA and make sure I could see an out of network provider.  When I used to see a VA psychologist, the session would last about an hour, but I would have a 2, 3, or 6 month wait time between appointments.  I will say that my psychologist was a great therapist.  He was clear and never made me feel like a piece of trash some of the techniques he taught me to deal with my PTSD did help.”  He said they are not perfect, but they were effective.  He said he has not heard of a Choice Program, so I am assuming that some are not offered it and some are, or some states do not have it and some do.  He stopped using the VA and got insurance through his work, when he tried to get back on at the VA he could not because he could not get in touch with the people he needed to talk to and he finally gave up and went back on his healthcare coverage at work.  He also said, “When I first checked into the VA for health care, the Psychiatrist I saw very rudely stated that I will probably never come back here because I’m too proud for his assistance to help me (I feel like I am a pretty humble person), talk about a guy that doesn’t give a damn…as stated before however, the psychologist was the exact opposite and good to go.”  So the VA psychiatrists at the VA are much more understanding than outside Psychiatrist.

He said he would dispute AOC’s comment about “VA healthcare being any sort of an example of government healthcare being efficient and well led.  I know their are some out there convinced she is a socialist hero and the second coming of Christ, but I respectfully disagree and find her to be ignorant of facts and concepts of the reality of our nations issues.  She lives in imagination land.  I do not hate her guts, but I want her to pull her head out of the sand and recognize that she cannot dream her way to her version of utopia….God help us all.”  My opinion is, if you haven’t had to deal with the VA system, how can you really know how it is to have to use them?  She has no idea what she is talking about and therefore should not speak about it.

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Next we will go to Biloxi, Mississippi.  She said there is one within a 50 mile radius and 1 in Biloxi.  The main one is in Jackson, but that’s a 3 hour drive or New Orleans is 71 miles away.  She said “My VA is a full hospital complete with specialty clinics.”  In order to be seen at a VA specialty clinic, you must first get approval and a referral from your PCM (primary care manager).  There is a difference in the types of appointments she needs to make.  She said, “There is no type of acute care for colds at my facility.  I don’t like that, at all.  They say to go to the ER if you want to be seen for a cold, flu, strep, UTI, etc.  Chronic issues are managed by your PCM.”

When asked about emergency situations she said the closest facility is an appropriate facility, cost will be covered by the VA.  Regular check-ups and tests can take about a month to make an appointment, the exception is cardiology, she said, “I was taken care of very quickly for cardio issues. Their cardio care was quite aggressive, in a good way.”  She said her PCM usually stayed same, so she was able to see the same doctor each time.   She knows what the Choice Card is and has one, but has not used it, she said, “In order to use this benefit, certain criteria must be met.  Examples:  You need wait more than 30 days for an appointment, you live more than 40 miles away from the nearest VA.”  Here is a link if you do not know what it is or are unsure of what it is VA Choice Card.

She has been retired almost 6 years and her very first VA appointment was in September of 2018, she says the best clinic is the cardiology clinic, though.  She says they have a “women’s clinic,” most appointments like mammograms are taken care of by other civilian or military facilities.  She lives 25 miles away from her VA.  She even got lectured at one point from her PCM, she said, “It was very inappropriate for her to tell me, a Veteran and obviously patriotic, that I need to be more of a proactive feminist, blah blah blah, President Obama blah blah blah, Trump so evil, blah blah blah.”  I agree, that is inappropriate of a physician to lecture one on anything outside of their health.

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Now we will go to Bellevue, Nebraska (just south of Omaha).  There is a VA clinic in Bellevue and the main VA hospital in Omaha, he said he has been to both.  He said, “As far as being seen at either, it’s happened several ways:
1.  I was seen at the hospital and the VA secluded follow ups at the clinic.
2.  I’ve called the VA for an appointment and they secluded me to be seen at the clinic.
3.  I’ve called the clinic for making an appointment.”

When it comes to something that is life threatening (i.e. life, limb, eyesight, or difficulty breathing), he goes to the VA ER, he said, “The last time I went there, my wife took me in because it was hard to breath.  We were treated like shit by the nurse, like we were an inconvenience being there.”  As far as routine testing and other types of visits he calls and makes an appointment.  He said, “I’ve had to wait a month for some appointments, but the overall average is around two to three weeks.”

He said that he is “drawing about 30% disability from service connected and I also have insurance from work.  If I’m being seen at a civilian hospital for anything NOT related to what I’m getting disability for, it’s out of pocket and just my insurance.  If it’s something that I AM getting disability for then the VA covers down.  So if I have an emergency, I’m going to try to make it to the VA because then I can use my insurance there and not shit a gold brick when the bill comes. It’s confusing.”  For regular testing or annual stuff he says he usually gets into the clinic and will be seen in about 1-1/2 weeks to 3 weeks.

The PCP usually changes, but he thinks you can request a certain one, but your wait time will most likely change, so its the risk of time versus consistency on seeing the same doctor.  Over all, “I’m happy with the VA In Omaha/Bellevue,” he said, “Scheduling my vasectomy through them was interesting, had to make an appointment, to make an appointment to schedule my consultation to schedule my surgery.”  He said the wait times in the lobbies aren’t too long, “longest I think I waited was 20 minutes.  Once I got to a room I can wait anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes.  I definitely have it better than other places I’ve read about,” though he says being seen by a specialist and having something done can take up to a year.   There are sometimes wait lists that can be 6 mo out, if he needs to talk to the podiatrist, it’ll take 6 months to get the appointment, if a procedure is needed, that’ll take 6 months too, so a full year could pass before he got what was needed done.  That is pretty much the main complaint I have heard, the time that it takes to get in, time to get testing done, and time that it takes to get anything done.  Sad thing is, depending on what it is, time can cost some their lives.

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Now lets check out Kentucky.  This Veteran lives right at the bottom of Kentucky, near the Tennessee state line.  He goes to a Clinic in Clarksville, Tn, which is about 20 miles from his home.  The clinic has just been built and is still adding services.  He said, “The VA Campus in Nashville is where I have to go for major work, MRI’s , surgeries ect… It’s a Full service Hospital and is 54 mi away from me.”  He said you have to be in the system before you can go to the clinic, “there are a couple of ways to get in to the system .. D.A.V. Disabled American Veterans, The VFW Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion all can help file claims for eligibility.”

He said there is not much difference in where he goes, “I can go to the Emergency Room in Nashville any time. Lets say I wake up feeling Crappy and need to see someone… I have to Drive 54 mi to the ER. For me personally I’m more lucky, I’ve had the same NP ( Nurse Practitioner ) for more than 10 yrs.  He and I are Friends on FB and I have his cell phone # so I just call him and see if he can squeeze me in.”  That is very lucky, as it seems that most are just a name and number at the VA.  As far as using outside services, “that happened last year actually… I cut my finger… saw my Guy at VA… and then went to the Local Hospital ER… They fixed me and luckily I didn’t have to pay anything.”  He said to get an appointment can take about 3 months, “I have an MRI scheduled for Tuesday… I saw my Dr back in Feb. and he ordered the MRI.”  He has heard of Choice Program.  He said, “The last time I was at the VA in Nashville I talked to a guy who was there from Bowling Green Ky.  He had to drive more than 100 mi to get there.  Bowling Green Ky is 57 mi North east of me & Nashville Tn is 54 South East of me.”  So there seems to be an issue also with availability, they need more hospitals and clinics to help serve everyone.

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Last but not least, I spoke to someone in Virginia.  They said, “As Far as AOC statements goes is she’s ignorant to what Veterans needs are.  Secondly the VA was Broken System for about 20 years but this administration is spearheading it’s recovery I’m so many ways
Thirdly it will take about 10 years to hopefully fix this system but it’s already on the mend.  There are numerous VAs across the country and clinics.  There is a VA Choice program that offers some Veterans the ease of being able to be treated at designated hospitals and the VA carries the cost.  Also what many Veterans don’t know is the Recent Veterans Identification Card ( VIC ) Which they can apply online at The VA.

Now though I only talked to a few Veterans, it seems that they all agree there are issues that need to be fixed.  The length of time to get in to see someone or even talk to someone is bad, it should not take that long to set something up and be able to get in there, especially if it is for something urgent.  Time is of the essence when we are talking about health care and not to speak of early health care to keep from getting to the point of something bad happening, like death.  I have heard of sometimes up to a year wait for visits, procedures, and what not.

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Another issue with most is that they do not keep the same physicians.  I feel that seeing the same provider is something that is not only beneficial for the patient, but the doctor also.  You get to build a knowledge base without it being a book of patient history.  The more you see a doctor the more they understand who you are and other things about you that could be helping or hurting your health.  Every time you have to see someone new, they have to read your history, lots of reports, test, blood work, and to me that makes it very easy to miss something.  I do not know why they have such a turnover, why they are not able to keep doctors, but they need to find out and fix this.  Lastly, I think that they need more full care facilities to reach areas that are further out, at least make it easier for them to see clinics that are closer without having to drive all day and wait all day to see someone.

The VA system is good in some ways, but to a lot of people it is not.  They also need to upgrade their data system, they really cannot tell you how many have died waiting and how many could die waiting, these people are waiting on being seen, getting procedures, and/or treatment.  On a article on Military.com it says, “applications got stuck in a system that the VA has struggled to overhaul. Some applications, the IG report says, go back nearly two decades. The report addresses serious issues with the record-keeping itself.”  It also says that “The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health-care applications as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic “transactions” over the past five years.”  I don’t know about you but that is scary.  It is mishandling of records and people are literally falling through the cracks who need medical help.  I understand they are overworked, there is not enough people to help, but it is time they hire more people, get rid of the deadbeat people that are messing shit up, and they need to get this thing running appropriately, especially for our Veterans.  They were willing to give all to protect us and we give nothing in return.  This is the least we can do to help them live a healthy safe life.  Anyone who thinks this system is not broken needs to research it themselves, talk to some Veterans, go visit a VA.  This is not fair at all.

As far as AOC goes, she really has no idea what she is talking about.  This to me is way more important than stopping cows from farting.  She needs to know what she is talking about before she spouts off some insane BS.   I want to tell all the Veterans that helped me with this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service, thank you for caring enough about us to place your life on the line to protect us, and I hope to God that they seriously work on this system because you all deserve much more than this for all you have done.  I will leave you with this video that says it pretty good.

Dan Crenshaw Gives The Best Response to AOC!

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