Since we are in the midst of the Coronavirus season, I figured it would be a great time to talk about the Veterans Affairs health care system.

Since I got out of the Navy, I’ve been taking advantage of the VA health care benefits that I’m entitled to. All military members with an honorable discharge are eligible for five years of health care coverage at no cost.

Before I became a member of the VA health care system, I, of course, had heard the horror stories of VA hospitals and the painful challenges that patients had had to endure. Given the stories I had heard, the majority of them from the media, I was bracing for impact upon entry into the VA system. I might have opted out of VA healthcare completely, but I was in college, and healthcare was free, so for me, it was the best option.

At this point, I have been under VA health care coverage for two years. While living in Texas, I was assigned to an outpatient center, where I had a legitimate primary care provider. The facility was old, but the staff was professional and my doctor was very attentive.

At my most recent appointment, I informed my doctor that I had pain in several areas and that I wanted to see a dermatologist. She immediately put in referral orders and I quickly received phone calls for appointment confirmations.

Within a few days, I had confirmed appointments to go see an orthopedic specialist, to have an MRI done, and meet with a dermatologist for a consultation.

All three appointments were conducted professionally and thoroughly addressed my issues.

Just a couple of weeks ago, amidst the worst days of the Coronavirus, I contacted the dermatology department at the Houston VA Medical Center. I had a spot on my arm that I wanted a doctor to look at. After I sent them some pictures of the spot, they felt that the pictures warranted a visit to the hospital.

When I was entering the Houston VA Medical Center, it felt like I was crossing through the DMZ between North and South Korea. They had three vetting checkpoints for people entering the hospital, ensuring the safety of the patients and staff. There were hand sanitizer stations everywhere. I was generally impressed and felt very safe considering the increased risk of Coronavirus infection in a hospital setting.

Two weeks ago, I moved out of Texas. Therefore, I had to change all of my contact information and transfer my VA healthcare coverage to a new region. After only a few phone calls, all of my information had been transferred and a telehealth consultation had been scheduled with my new primary care doctor.

I really can’t complain about the care I’ve received during my time with the VA health care system. Maybe the VA has improved in the last couple of years or quite possibly, the media has embellished the reporting on the VA.

If you’ve had experience with the VA health care system, I want to hear your thoughts in the comments section — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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