What Florida Veterans Are Telling Us About the VA
Tampa, FL – Hundreds of veterans are sharing their experiences with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on MyVAStory.org, a new Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) platform which launched last week. The organization has been encouraging veterans from around the country to submit their stories to the website or on social media using #MyVAStory.
Here are a few of the stories we’re seeing in Florida:
Douglas, Army Veteran: “The Local VA Patient Advocate Was of Absolutely No Help.” “I chose treatment through the Choice Act, and was diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer. The local VA patient advocate was of absolutely no help. Choice Act fought for me every step of the way, but after 24 phone calls and 20 hours plus of my time, I got the Choice Act to pay for my treatment.”
Bob, Army Veteran: “I Was Told To Go Home and Take Robitussen.” “I went to a VA clinic on a Friday with a bad cough and fever. I was told to go home and take Robitussen.” I asked for Tami-Flu and was told my temperature wasn’t high enough. On Monday, I went to a hospital emergency room and was diagnosed with pneumonia.”
David, Army Veteran: “My Trouble With VA Started On Day One.” “The local VA service organization made many errors on my FDC. My local VA rejected my FDC. I sought help from Congressman Jeff Miller, who got my application back on track. In Oct 2016 I had my CP exam at a JACC. The doctor treated me like a criminal. She said, ‘You don’t have PTSD! You have Personality Disorder…’ My psychiatrist has written a detailed diagnosis of PTSD that my attorney is using to file a NOD and an appeal. I can see why the 76 year old committed suicide recently at a VA facility.”
Robert, Veteran: “I Was Told There Were Not Any of My Medical Records There, Therefore I Would Not be Able to Secure An MD for My Care.” “My VA doc was in Indiana several years ago. I was in the process of moving to Florida, and requested that my VA medical records be transferred to that VA Outpatient facility. I was told this would be taken care of. After my move, I went to a Florida facility to see when I could be able to see an MD for continued care, etc. I was told there were not any of my medical records there, therefore I would not be able to secure an MD for my care. This went on and on for 17 months. Towards the end of this time period, I finally was able to make telephone contact with a retired Army colonel at a Florida VA facility. I explained my situation and he said he would look into it. I FINALLY received a call from this colonel a week or so later and he told me that he had located my medical records in Georgia. In some VA employee’s ‘in-box’ for apparently months and months!!! He advised I contact another Florida VA facility after a few days and things should THEN “be in order.” I called the another facility about a week later, and then was told I would be seeing my Florida VA facility within a week. Will it ever end?”
Aly, Army Veteran and Military Family: “Thankfully, I Have Access to a Non-VA Provider.” “The last message I left took me a week to get a return call, and that was only because I also sent an email via myhealthyvet. The answer I was given: based on the symptoms you are describing you need to go to an emergency room. Why thank you! — a week later. Thankfully, I have access to a non-VA provider and had already been seen by the time the VA nurse decided to call me back.”
William, Army Veteran: “I Asked for a Transfer to Another Doctor — Which Took 6 Weeks.” “I was being seen in at a VA in Florida. I was experiencing major pain and when I tried to tell my Primary Doctor, she wouldn’t listen. Then she told me if I didn’t like how she was treating me, I should find someone else. So I reported her, with no results, and I asked for a transfer to another doctor — which took 6 weeks. Meanwhile, I’m in terrible pain. Well, I finally got to see a doctor at another local VA, and guess what they found? I was having terrible pain because I had a 7mm stone that was causing me to faint from the pain. They had to do emergency surgery to get it out because it was too large to pass. So I had to suffer for no other reason than the doctor thinking she doesn’t have to listen to the patient.”
Joni, Air Force Veteran and CVA Florida Local Director: “As I Got Out of the Air Force, I Knew I Would be Telling My Story to Who Knows How Many Therapists From the VA.” “No one is really scheduled to be your certain therapists. They don’t have the proper people in leadership positions in order to ensure veterans receive the healthcare they need.”
Georgie, Army Veteran: “I Sought Help Over 5 Years Ago From the VA for My Back, Brain Seizures, Chronic Pain, and I Was Ignored.” “I sought that help over 5 years ago from the VA for my back, brain seizures, chronic pain…and I was IGNORED…I realize that there are certain procedures that must be followed in order to get Community Based Care. But my family members and I did EVERYTHING that we were supposed to do. I notified my PCP of my medical situation and of my rapidly deteriorating situation. I continually worked with the Patient Advocate’s Office expecting them to help me to properly navigate the VA system. I also contacted the Woman’s Clinic Director, my psychiatrist, and lastly, I wrote a 4 page letter and hand delivered it to the Director of the Hospital 7 weeks prior to my surgery…That surgery cost me approx. $27,000 ‘out of pocket’ and when I filed my paperwork to get reimbursed for my medical expenses, I was told by the Patient Advocate’s Office that the VA had NEVER approved my request…After I filed for my reimbursement, the PA’s Office shared with me that, ‘AFTER THE FACT’ someone had gotten the VA neurosurgeon to write a medical opinion that he had evaluated me and that I would NOT benefit from back surgery. This doctor did this WITHOUT ever having seen me.”
Steven, Army Veteran: “If The VA Hadn’t Refused to Examine Me I Probably Would Have Been…Treated Many, Many Years Earlier.“ “I was a proud member of the U.S. Army, Airborne Division. I got out in 1991. While I was in I broke my left arm in two places within a year of ending my enlistment. I was still having pain/problems with that arm after returning home. Decided to go to a VA near my home. While I was there they x-rayed my arm and performed a few mobility and flexibility tests. Nothing conclusive was determined. Doctor attributed it to ‘phantom pain’…Here comes the part that is my ‘horror story’. I mentioned that I was having a lot of pain in my knees. To which they replied ‘You were Airborne, correct?’ ‘Yes,’ I replied. They then stated that since I chose to be a paratrooper that they were not going to do anything for me. Disgusted I never went back. Fast forward a few years and I was still having issues with my knees. Family doctor prescribed biking and various strength training exercises, which did help for a while. Fast forward even further to 2014 and I underwent my first knee surgery to smooth out the bones in my right knee, because my doctor found that I had no cartilage in my knee and hadn’t for many years. Long story short, if the VA hadn’t refused to examine me I probably would have been diagnosed and treated many, many years earlier.”
Each of the stories are being read and compiled, and CVA’s policy team is looking for broad themes. This information will help inform the kind of VA reforms CVA will fight for moving forward.
To read more stories or to learn more about the project, visit www.MyVAStory.org.
Concerned Veterans for America is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization that advocates for policies that will preserve the freedom and prosperity we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to defend.