This March marks a difficult anniversary: two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In that time, all of us have been affected by COVID-19 – most of all, those who have lost loved ones to the virus.

We all want to return to a sense of normalcy. To keep the most vulnerable members of our communities safe, please continue to follow the precautions deemed necessary in your area. And to keep yourself and your family safe, get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot if you are able to do so.

Here are five ways that Veterans can access VA care safely and easily from home. And remember, these virtual resources are available to you anytime – whether it’s related to COVID-19 or not.

1. Get mental health care through telehealth

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, or if you feel that the pandemic is making your mental health symptoms worse, speaking with a mental health provider is an important first step.

Virtual appointments reduce risk of COVID-19 exposure

Switch to a video visit to reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure.

You can meet with a VA mental health provider through VA Video Connect, VA’s secure videoconferencing app. You can set up a video appointment from home, and there is no copay for using VA Video Connect. For more information, contact your local VA medical center.

If you need immediate mental health support, contact the Veterans Crisis Line by calling 800-273-8255 and pressing 1, or text 838255. It’s free and confidential.

2. Switch from in-person appointments to video visits

Video visits are designed to fit easily into your daily routine. Using VA Video Connect, you can meet with your VA care team over a secure video connection from wherever you are. There’s no need to drive to a VA medical center or clinic or wait in the waiting room.

You can switch to a video visit if you want to stay home to reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure – or if you just prefer receiving care from home.

A video visit may be a good fit if getting to a VA facility is difficult for you, if you need to stay home to care for kids or other family members, or if you’re too busy to make time for an in-person appointment.

“Veterans can choose a VA Video Connect visit if they prefer staying home because of the omicron variant or for any reason,” said Dr. Leonie Heyworth, clinical deputy director at VA’s Office of Connected Care. “It can be simply because they prefer the convenience of meeting with their VA care team from home.”

And if you want to include family members or other caregivers in your VA care decisions, you can add them to the video visit so they can participate from anywhere.

Video visits are free and are a good fit for many primary care and mental health visits.

To learn more about switching to a video visit, read this VAntage Point article.

3. Use the Annie app if you have vaccine side effects or if you test positive

The Annie App for Veterans sends automated text messages that can help you learn about COVID-19, cope with stress related to the pandemic and support you if you are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19.

If you just received or are about to receive the vaccine or a booster shot, text messages from Annie can help you learn what side effects you could experience.

Woman provides blood pressure info virtually to doctor

Veterans measure their vital readings and send them securely.

If you test positive for COVID-19, Annie can check on your symptoms and give you guidance on when to seek care if your symptoms worsen – or when you can stop isolating once you feel better.

Annie can also send messages to help Veterans cope with feelings of stress, isolation or fatigue related to the pandemic.

To learn more, visit the Annie app page on the VA App Store.

4. Find your VA COVID-19 test results and vaccine records on My HealtheVet

If you received a COVID-19 test or the COVID-19 vaccine at VA, you can use your My HealtheVet Premium account to find your test results or vaccination record online.

To find your COVID-19 test results, follow these steps. And if you want to locate your COVID-19 vaccination record, follow these steps.

Don’t have a My HealtheVet Premium account? Premium accounts are free. And you can get one in person at a VA facility or online by following these instructions. Along with accessing COVID-19 information, you can use My HealtheVet to request refills of your VA prescriptions, find your VA medical records and exchange secure messages with your VA providers.

5. Have your VA care team monitor your chronic condition or COVID-19 recovery

VA’s Remote Patient Monitoring – Home Telehealth (RPM – HT) program lends a hand to help Veterans manage chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.

Veterans measure their vital readings and symptoms and send them securely to their assigned RPM – HT Care Coordinator for review. The Care Coordinator collaborates with the Veteran’s care team to help the Veteran manage their care.

Over the past two years, the RPM – HT program has helped Veterans who are recovering from COVID-19 at home.

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Michael Novielli took part in the RPM – HT program after contracting COVID-19 in April 2020. When his RPM – HT Care Coordinator noticed unusual symptoms, she helped Novielli get in-person care quickly.

“If I wasn’t on the telehealth, I would have stayed home with the pneumonia,” Novielli said. “And who knows what would have happened?” Read his full story on VAntage Point.

Ask your VA provider if RPM – HT is a fit for your care needs and learn more on the Telehealth Services website.

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8 Comments

  1. Scott April 28, 2022 at 10:44 am

    The article headline says after the pandemic- we are by no means over this pandemic. Telehealth works for me in some cases but as others point in-person visits are a must for some conditions. Getting an appointment within a reasonable amout of time is still an issue where I go. It may take weeks to months to get a specialty clinic appointment. When I asked to be tested for anitbodies to see if I previously had COVID-19 the VA said they don’t have the ability to check for it at their lab. Why?

  2. Nicholas Micskey April 28, 2022 at 9:54 am

    In general I am satisfied withe my VA healthcare. We do not have a full facility VA hospital only a clinic so for most services I need I am referred to Community Care. My only complaint is the length of time it takes to get appointments.

  3. Mike Cox April 27, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    None of these work as long as the VA continues to hire providers that HATE vets. VA do better, hell quit hiring military providers that might be a start.

  4. George Morgan March 31, 2022 at 11:13 pm

    Health care is not really good fit for telehealth most of the time. I find that most of the time the actual problems are found physically when meeting with physicians. VA has a problem with delivering medicines by UPS or mail. I live 5 miles from a Clinic where the medicine could be picked up when it is needed. Instead I wind up waiting two weeks or more when my PCP prescribes something. Most of my prescriptions come from outside the VA because of that. That is a problem for scheduling what you need. A physician needs to sometimes look down a throat, check spots on the body and a lot of other things. Covid is undoubtedly a killer but a lot of other things are too. If it cannot be done at that appointment you can often not wait for a few weeks to get it done. Any system requires delivering medicine sometimes immediately. No matter how good a Physician does or tries something which leaves them with a half effort to solve the health problem is just that a half effort. If the medicine cannot be delivered when needed. Especially if it requires mail rooms removed from the process. I have some chronic conditions that sometimes require extra equipment. A Physician can request but if someone in the system side tracks their request it is dead in the water for treatment. I have a problem in one ear. I have been prescribed a hearing aid for one ear at this point. Had two aids. One was a back up. When one went in for repair some one along the way decided I did not need the repaired one sent back to me. Now the other one is needing some type of repair and I do not have the spare. The same part of the system decided I needed I needed to come in for an in person test during a high point of Covid in that area. I declined and told them to send me to the Community Care system. Now that I may need a test again and Covid has cleared a little there is difficulty getting the appointment. Patients need to be in charge of their health care not a bureaucrat system.. Dealing with Specialist’s on a rotating basis is not something I find appealing about VA. Need confidence not only in my PCP but also confidence in my Specialist who handle other areas of care. Not all Physicians are created equal despite what they try to tell us. When there is not a choice there is usually a problem at some point which cannot be solved by checking it to death over telehealth.

  5. Ronald March 31, 2022 at 8:27 pm

    I have many unaddressed health care needs unresolved because the VA misdiagnosis. You acutely have the records and I also have them and you obviously misread. The EMJ said abnormal and your doctors said normal, I and you have the records. The MRI twice was diagnosed by the Cincinnati VA as a fragmented disk not a back sprain. I have asked for a new CPAP for almost 7 years because mine doesn’t work. I have many unexplained medical issues
    I have a massive had lump on my wrist and level 7 pain constantly on my right arm. I have a strange lump inside the bottom of my foot. I have lost a crazy amount of body mass. And can not see sht. Im really pissed because this is torture really.

  6. Jesse willlette March 31, 2022 at 6:56 pm

    Having had some telejealth apts. They are. A scam and only to delay care. It is as the VA says a “Gatekeeper” system. Do the telehealth to determine if you need to really be seen at which poi t they try and see you. Of course normal VA appointment rules apply you know double booking no availability and extended wait times.

    Telehealth used to be when the nurse or dr would call and give you test results..now you are making it sou ds like its new. All the Dr does is tell you what you can see in the download from my healthevet. Its a friggin joke.

  7. Luther M. Smith March 31, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    I have nice quality hearing aids provided by the VA, but now I need an appointment for service/ retesting/adjustment but it seems impossible to get through on the phone to make an appointment to the center in Colorado Springs.

  8. Frank Gresik March 31, 2022 at 1:53 pm

    Healthcare involves so much more than Covid. I am about ready to leave the VA system. The care I’ve received from them has been sub par since Covid began. You cannot take care of a patient via the internet. You need to have one on one contact to properly diagnose many issues vets face. For example the dark mole I had and told my PCP and the dermatologist about turned out to be a melanoma. Fortunately I went to a different doctor and they took care of it.

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