The care and feeding of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Since a lot of new military veterans are being produced by our state of war, I thought I would pass something along that might be helpful to new veterans or their families who are new to using the VA for health care. It’s not that I figure a lot of people are going to see this little ol’ blog in Beaumont, Texas, but one never knows who may stop by.

So here is the deal. The VA is the second largest cabinet department in the U.S. Government behind the Defense Department. As such, it’s a gigantic-ass bureaucracy like DoD. Bureaucracies, as most people realize, are in the business of keeping their jobs or expanding their kingdoms. So that should be a self-explanatory warning when dealing with the VA.

Secondly, the VA is continually underfunded and thus is often overcrowded with people which also slows down their responding to patients as quickly as they should.

Finally, as is the case with any bureaucracies, there are a few ass****s in the system. Enough said.

One veteran, once using the VA medical system, has just as much right as another to have adequate care. If you feel you or your loved one is not being responded to properly, here is my secret to the successful care and feeding of the VA medical system.

1. Call your VA patient representative or consumer affairs office. As far as I know all VA hospitals and clinics have these reps whose job it is to help the veteran get through all the bullshit. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

2. When the patient rep route doesn’t seem to be working, find your local congressional office. Craft a sensible letter and deliver it to the Congress member’s local office if possible, or get their fax number and fax the letter to their VA caseworker or other caseworkers in the office. Don’t rant and rave. Just calmly lay out the problem and ask that it be investigated.

Federal bureaucracies and their local representatives don’t like congressional investigations. Sometimes a threat of writing your congress member works, but usually it doesn’t. You usually have to write a letter to get the VA’s attention.

3. If all else fails, make up a placard and picket your local VA facility. However, stand just off the property grounds unless you ask for permission to protest on the facility’s property. The last thing you want if you have medical problems is to be put in jail.

If none of the above works, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve never had to resort to No. 3, but have successfully used 1 and 2 numerous times.

Good luck, and don’t let the bastards get you down.

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