VETERANS CORNER: VA Togus partially re-opens to veterans

Veterans Administration facility at Togus. (Internet photo)

by Gary Kennedy

Well, here we are again, my friends and fellow vets. Not much time has gone by but I have been presented with many questions and problems. It seems that the online conferencing which no one seems to know about isn’t going too great.

As of September 21 the VA Togus has partially opened to veterans. This should make some of you happy. However, for the time being VA is only accepting veterans by appointment. That is the same on both the medical and administrative sides. Also, some of the service organizations such as VFW, DAV and American Legion are following suit. Of course, you will have to be examined at the door, hand sanitizing and masks are required. Ward visitation is still limited. If you would like to speak to a service organization or a particular ward call 207-623-8411, 0. Zero will give you a live operator and they will transfer your call from a 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. On Friday I would suggest calling a little early for the obvious reasons. If you need benefits information or to make an appointment to see a counselor at VBA you can use my secret number of 207-621-6938. The reason you pay me the big bucks is for information like this.

Now I will try to answer some of the big questions: Is emergency open? The answer is Yes, but remember if you have a medical emergency dial 911.

Is the store and lunch room open? The answer is Yes, but you still have to go through screening if you are coming in off the street.

Can I file a claim? The answer again is Yes. You can use the Myhealthyvet app, or you can make an appointment using the number I have supplied above and make an appointment with a claims representative. Some of us aren’t comfortable doing it on our own, so the experts are still taking appointments, these men and women are the backbone of the VA system, and for the most part are vets who really want to help you. Don’t ever be afraid to ask as it would only be you who would lose. These folks have changed the lives of many vets in need. They have heard and seen it all. You can even get a free pen.

Next, and a very important issue to so many, I went out of the comfort of my home to a little research. This is a very contentious issue between me and VA. It is my opinion that areas such as rehabilitation are not doing their job. It is my opinion that those in the know are not dealing with many issues in a pragmatic manner. I decided to visit some of the rehab areas around Augusta and found that most rehab centers were dealing with this pandemic in a very pragmatic way. I visited both YMCAs and they were functioning in an almost normal day to day manner. It is my understanding that if you need what the “Y” offers, you should speak to your PCP and ask for an outside membership. If it is something that you require in your medical regimen, V.A. will pay for your membership. Don’t give up on your daily need without asking one of us for some direction. It may be available to you.

There are some serious issues coming down the pike like, why are doctors refusing to take me on? Not all of the beauty of Veteran’s Choice stands the test of validity. Until four to five months ago doctors were enjoying a full fee based position. Well such is not the case anymore. None of the politicians seem to be aware that physician fees have been severely cut to the point of contention between the veterans. Physician fees have been cut between 35 – 51 percent of the original billed fee. So doctors are more and more refusing to take veterans. This problem is going to grow and affect many veterans. I currently have a letter out to President Trump. I don’t think he is even aware of this new problem. I am not sure if this is an isolated problem with Tracye Davis, Ryan Lilly or all the way to National Director, Secretary Robert Wilkie. In any case I will find the answer and let you know.

This makes me as angry as it does you. I, like you, rely upon some outside doctors. This indicates to me that we will soon be reverting to our previous way of doing things. I always felt it was too good to be true. I was just informed that a previous doctor wouldn’t see me anymore because of this fee problem. So, for me to get similar care that I need, I will have to go to New Hampshire. VA will pay for it but I believe that the difference in cost between my current doctor and a new one in New Hampshire is going to be negligible, when they add in travel. A six-hour drive round trip is not a good program by a long shot. I expect to be hearing more from our vets in short order.

In these trying times many of us are pinching pennies. I know I have. My wife and I are very fond of canned Spam. It’s not considered top of the line but we like the low salt variety. Well, let this be a warning to you. Recently my wife and I purchased several cans to keep as reserve. My wife opened one yesterday and it was blue inside both on the meat as well as the upper lid of the can. We wrapped it in plastic and refrigerated it. We have contacted the company and we will inform the store. We also took photos of the product and looked it up on the computer. The Chinese have a 40 percent ownership in both Hormel and Smithfield pork products. I don’t know about you but I become worried when communist countries buy into our food supply. I will let you know how this turns out.

Be ever vigilant my friends. Perhaps we all need to have a conversation with our leaders. We took photos of this product and its barcode. Be safe to you and yours and God bless.


Responsible journalism is hard work!
It is also expensive!

If you enjoy reading The Town Line and the good news we bring you each week, would you consider a donation to help us continue the work we’re doing?

The Town Line is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit private foundation, and all donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Service code.

To help, please visit our online donation page or mail a check payable to The Town Line, PO Box 89, South China, ME 04358. Your contribution is appreciated!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *