The steps in enroll in the health care system
When most people sign up to join any branch of service, the health care they receive is a major part of the choices they make. Most veterans combat, or not are entitled to a health care system once the have exited the military, and it is their choice on whether they decide to use it or not.
With that being said the V.A. have stipulation on if you are qualified to use the health care system. It starts with a visit to your local Veterans website where you are to navigate through the website to find the enrolling documents. From their you have to email or download forms, fill them out and send them back to the V.A. This process can take some time depending on the time of enrollment and how many vets have enrolled in the V.A.
Congrats!!!! Three weeks later you are now enrolled in the health care system and are allowed to use the health care system.(This is the average wait time to hear back from a representative or to receive paperwork stating you have been enrolled. )
Your next step is to call your local V.A. hotline and set up your first appointment. Again this can now take some time depending on what facility you are closes to, the bigger the hospital, or city the longer the wait. To find your closes hospital or clinic you can log on again to the V.A hospital and search the map for the closes location.
Once you have set up your appointment you have to drive to the clinic where you will most likely have to fill out more paper work. Not all paperwork is explained either you must fill it out to the best of your ability in hopes that you are doing it right. In Peoria IL they have a very nice clinic that provides free snacks to make your wait a bit easier as well as a snack area that has more vending machine and microwaves for those who bring there own food.
The set up at the V.A is not always easy and sometimes can seem very confusing as well for some, especially if you have no idea how to use technology. It can even be more difficult for those who have to drive long distance, or those who are unable to drive those distances and have arrange rides. Some V.A clinic’s and hospitals do offer a shuttle service that is free of charge but are not always easy to catch and they don’t schedule around your appointment time so you might have to be at the clinic hours before your appointment.
I enrolled in the V.A health care system in 2010 after being discharged from the army. This was a long process for me, I was given limited to almost no information at the time about the health care system other then what I have heard from other vet’s and peers whom were still in the military. I was navigated to a web page for the V.A concerning my qualifications, along with a list of paperwork I would need to have on hand or scanned in and emailed to be able to enroll. Once I was able to navigate my way threw the web page I was able to summit and upload documents to the web page and summit my claim. It took me a few weeks before I heard anything back from the V.A offices, I would estimate over a month but not more then two months. I received a short letter in the mail simply stating I qualified for V.A health care and could now be seen at the V. A hospital. It did not list any phone number or any sort of contact information for who I would be seeing or what hospital they would prefer.
This short letter did not obtain anything other then approval so this again required me to venture out on my own, and start the phone calls, that were not usually answered by people but more by automated machines that had the push one or push two type of answering system. After a few days of endless phone calls I finally was able to get a hold of the V.A hospital in Peoria called the Bob Micheal V.A clinic where I was able to make an appointment with a provider who was able to help me with my medical issues. So around the beginning of January I was able to drive the 45 minutes to west Peoria to the clinic where I seemed completely lost after walking in.
As I walked in I meet a somewhat friendly lady at the front desk who was able to navigate me a bit more threw the clinic and give me some information I needed to make my first visit a bit easier. I would like to say I spent the better part of the day at this clinic waiting to be seen by a doctor and then moving along to different stations to be seen by different people for what felt like hours of paperwork. At the end of it all I was pushed over to the pharmacy window where I was able to pick up my medicine and then leave. The visit I would say was more sit and wait with unfriendly faces then it was happy faces. I could tell they were understaffed and cared more about what they were having for lunch then they did about me getting in and out with ease. The whole process seem jumbled and unorganized at most times.
Since I first began going to the clinic in Peoria, the clinic has went threw a few changes overall. The waiting area and staff stayed the same but the pharmacy was no longer a face to face check in but a machine where I had to scan a card I had never gotten or enter my social security number. The machine would still direct me to sit down and stare at a monitor that would pop up my information on the screen telling me my prescription was ready. I was forced at one time to make the pharmacy actually talk to me because I had my eyes dilated and was unable to see. I also had to sit in the clinic for several hours till I could see again because they did not inform me at the time I booked my appointment I would need a driver because they were doing that type of procedure. The staff seem annoyed that they had to stop the conversation they were having in order to help me. I found a nice gentleman sitting next to me that help me keep an eye on the screen till he had to leave. At this time I had to ask the window personnel every five minutes if my prescription was ready.
Your first trip to a new places with lots of new faces is scary to start with but to throw in a unfriendly face who seems utterly annoyed you are their makes for a uncomfortable visit. The hopes is one day this wont happen and that we are able to change the system to a place where veterans and families alike are able to go and get the bet quality care from the best doctors along with people who wont to be their to help them.