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More of your experiences with the VA: From '(mostly) marvelous' to 'stress'



One Impatient reader says her father “always received fabulous care at the VA hospital, other than it being geographically undesirable.”
One Impatient reader says her father “always received fabulous care at the VA hospital, other than it being geographically undesirable.”
Photo by U.S. Army via Flickr Creative Commons

Last month, as the scandal at the Veterans Affairs medical centers was unfolding, KPCC health reporter Elizabeth Aguilera asked Impatient readers to share their experiences with the VA.

I've already shared with you the story of Lance MacNiven, a young vet who's experienced the long wait times at VA medical centers. Here are some more responses we've received:

'That's the VA for ya'

One reader, Jon (who like others in today's post only provided his first name), wrote that he's had service-related knee issues since the early 2000s.

He says he and his doctor agreed he needed knee surgery, and was told it would be scheduled about four or five months in the future. The doctor said someone from the VA would call to schedule the appointment; when Jon didn't hear from the agency, he followed up. This back-and-forth occurred several times.

The result, he said, is that, "my surgery date will not occur until 9 months or so after... my doctor and I agreed on having the surgery."

He said he's spoken to other veterans at the Loma Linda VA, and "these wait times are just normal. 'That's the VA for ya,' is usually what you hear."

'Adds to my stress'

Impatient reader Donna, 52, has served a combined 15 years in the armed forces. She's now going through the process of medical retirement – in part due to her PTSD – and said she struggles to get an appointment with her psychiatrist.

She said the automated appointment system at the women's clinic at the West L.A. VA center "doesn't really work" so, "if I don't hunt [my psychiatrist] down, I'm not able to get an appointment."

That challenge, she said, "adds to my stress; it makes things worse."

‘Hooked on these drugs’

Another reader, Indy, wrote that her father, who recently died, served in the Normandy invasion, and "always received fabulous care at the VA hospital, other than it being geographically undesirable."

"I guess I should add that doctors at Loma Linda sent him really powerful sleeping pills and anti-anxiety drugs for several years without seeing him in person, which I felt was over the top. My father passed away hooked on these drugs."

'(Mostly) marvelous care'

Another vet, who just gave the initials, R.J.E., has had "(mostly) marvelous care" at the Long Beach VA center.

"Thanks to you, me, and all other US taxpayers, I have been able to have several costly tests in an attempt to determine a rare medical issue," R.J.E. wrote. "I don't think I would be able to get the same tests through any HMO."

If you're a veteran, what’s your experience with the VA medical centers, good or bad? Perhaps you have a relative or friend who's a vet who has dealt with long wait times. You can respond in the comment section, or e-mail us at Impatient@scpr.org.