DALE SUITER: Frustration – Coping with the VA

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SURVIVING VETERAN’S HEALTH CARE

By Dale R. Suiter STAFF WRITER

Many of us experience frustration in trying to contact and cope with the Veterans Administration. Helpfull hints:

1. Keep a file. Include ALL DOCUMENTS. Never throw any medical report, award information, communitcation from the military, VA or any related information away.

2. Develop a file system that you and your loved ones understand. Make sure you can find documents in it.

3. Never, repeat – never give up an original document. Provide copes, sure but keep your originals!

4. Keep your own phone list. Many people have the frustration of tyring to call a PERSON in the VA. Vets and their families almost always wind up trying to cope with a multitude of inpersonal machines. Many of the Vets and their families I speak with find no help, none with the VA contact system.

5. Make contacts with your elected represenatives. Members of Congress may be able to help Vets cut through bureaucracy with the military and the VA.

6. As difficult as it may be, keep your temper. A professional approach to complex Veteran’s issues gets results. There are exceptions.

One case included a brain damaged solider being “Met by the police” if his parents took him to an in-state Veterans Health Care Center. The Vets Dad exploded. His language was unprintable. Essentially he told the VA Rep he was speaking with “Foxtrot Uniform”. The family took the Vet to a VA facility three states away. The brain damanged Vet was screened and meekly followed a nurse to an inpatient facility. He would have fought the police. Solution, yes! Easy, no! It did work out however.

Never give up. Keep asking until you get the yes you need. Then get it in writing. There are many, many, very good and dedicated people working in the Veteran’s Administration. The system however is a nightmare. Find good people to help Vets get through it.

Dale R. Suiter

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