Approximately 62 percent (1,218,857) of all separated OEF/OIF/OND Veterans have used VA health care since October 1, 2001. Between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, a total of 738,212 of these Veterans accessed VA health care.Aug 23, 2017The total of veterans using the VA services is "More than nine million veterans are served each year by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Health care facilities are made up of 1,061 outpatient sites and 170 VA Medical Centers. May 2, 2018"
Why is it important to know this? Because if a veteran is not going to the VA, uses private healthcare providers, the reporting gets too complicated to actually understand what is going on.
Read a news report of a veteran dying, waiting for the VA and right away, we're driven to jump to the conclusion it was the fault of the VA, instead of knowing there is more to the story.
Since most veterans do not go to the VA, they deal with the same problems and rules the rest of us do. If nothing is wrong, we do not go to the doctor. We may go for a checkup, but a lot of us do not have a primary care doctor.
No doctor, we go to the emergency rooms. Wait to be seen, deal with how to pay for it, then we are told to make an appointment for a followup with a doctor.
We wait while looking for one who is taking new patients. Then find one who takes our insurance. Wait for the appointment and for the OK from the insurance company.
We wait in the office, the see the doctor, get test done. Wait for results. Then we are told we need to see a specialist. Yep, search and wait all over again. Wait for the appointment, then go to meet the doctor, then wait for another appointment to get what we need done.
Yep, more waiting.
OK, so if you happen to be a veteran, who has been dealing with all of that, guess what happens at the VA?
Since they do not have a clue who you are, you need to prove you are a veteran, and they need to get your records. You do not have to have a disability rating to be seen as long as you want to pay for it, have insurance that will pay for it, or, you guessed it, wait while your claim is going through all the channels to be approved.
Then if you have something like cancer and your civilian doctor thinks it was because you were in Vietnam, it may be very bad news and you need to get into treatment right away. Yes, you get in line. Not fair but that is the way it is.
For veterans, you cannot assume that being a veteran automatically gets you into the VA as soon as you need them. That does not work in the civilian world and it does not work in the VA either. Thank Congress for that since it has been their jobs since 1946 to make sure the VA was able to take care of all our veterans, especially the ones wounded or disabled because Congress sent them into combat.
Go to the VA and get into the system before something goes wrong and you need them fast.
Go to the DAV, the VFW or any of the other service organizations out there helping all veterans and if you can, kick in a couple of bucks to keep their lights on. They know all the rules and what you should be getting depending on what you did for the country and what you need because you did.
Do not blame the VA for everything the press keeps telling you because a lot of the times, you may think you are seeing a VA employee but it turns out, you are seeing a contractor...in other words, your care was already outsourced to a for profit group getting paid a lot more than a VA doctor!
Here is a contractor talking about what his company does! He does it for active duty and the VA.