VETERANS CORNER: Veterans still having hard time with medical help

Veterans Administration facility at Togus. (Internet photo)

by Gary Kennedy

Consider this: Part Two of the last column (The Town Line, August 4, page 14). I mentioned the hardship of the past couple of years. Well, nothing in my opinion has improved. Veterans are still having a very hard time with medical help and especially claims. Currently they most have to rely upon the assistance of VBA at Togus. First you have to call and set up an appointment. This could take some time. However, I must admit it is a lot faster and with far greater expertise than the service organizations which I mentioned which have their doors closed. I have actually called the number on the door and found the service officer working from home. How much work do you truly believe gets accomplished working outside of the established work place? I know some of these people and I don’t believe they are getting much done.

A lot of the world, Togus included, love this Covid stay at home situation. I have visited friends who work at home and they do have time to socialize and we pay for it, in more ways than one. There are a lot of great people working at Togus but many are allowed to go home and work. Pain clinics, sleep study clinics, primary care and even the psychiatric departments are taking care of vets via cell phone. This in my opinion is absolutely ridiculous. If there is really nothing wrong with you, this is ideal but if you have a real need for services this is terrible medicine. There are even medical people practicing outside of their education and areas of expertise. Most of we vets know this. This is way outside of the veteran’s and his or her families comfort zone.

The new V.A. transition to Optum United Health Care system has been a nightmare as well. Appointments get messed up and billing has become hazardous. I personally double check all appointments to make sure they are covered. I actually have found some that were not. This could lead to some real financial trouble.

I mentioned before that Togus was becoming like a guard house. The only doors that are open have security on them. They are not looking for guns or terrorists but just want to ask the same old Covid questions. It’s all one big administrative game to reorganize. Veterans pay the price. My wife and I recently went to the Boston area VA facility and we had an excellent experience. We walked through the door, was greeted and proceeded to the coffee shop and purchased a coffee and a snack. After, we went to our appointment and spent 45 minutes with a great doctor and then headed home. We used a mask but didn’t get stopped to answer questions. This was almost the same as Togus VA use to be.

I needed some adaptation to my vehicle and Ms. Anne Boyle, from Massachusetts, came to Togus VA to meet with me and other veterans. It was a great experience, and the point is, she drove here to help vets for a few days. I found out she was an ex-Marine. Military people understand military people and seem to have more compassion and understanding. We need more people like that young lady.

My mention of the gym and the pool in the last issue caused a little stir, as well it should. That annex of the rear of the facility was built approximately 75 years ago to service disabled vets with activity as well as for physical therapy. All these years that area has serviced the veterans well until the new administration took over. In my opinion both the local, regional and even the national should be ashamed of themselves. Many veterans including myself are alienated from something so fundamental to our well being while the powers that be rent the area out to employees. Is this supposed to be a perk for remaining at the VA?

Senator Collins reads articles from this news outlet and I am wondering how she feels about this. I will be visiting her this coming week and I will ask what is her opinion on these matters. I will also be asking the Secretary of Veterans Affairs about this. I have even been put on a list for Tucker Carlson at Fox News. I have no idea what my chances of that happening but who knows. He does take some issues that are veteran related. Some of you are having trouble with your outsourced bills and I was going to address that this week but it will have to wait until the next issue. There is just so much to say. I will give you a sample and a good explanation of how things are paid next time. Stay safe and God Bless.

The views of the author of this column are not necessarily those of The Town Line newspaper, its staff and board of directors.


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