All Veterans have their own unique experiences from their time served in the military. After their time in service, each Veteran has decisions to make on where to get health care. For different reasons, some Veterans may choose not to get their care through the Veterans Health Administration.

One Marine Corps Veteran, who was injured in Vietnam, says it was just having a talk with a doctor at a VA facility that helped him change his mind.

VA’s motto is to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan,” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.

That means a whole lot to retired Marine Corps Lt. John “Jack” Rine (pictured above).

“I moved to Delaware 20 years ago and didn’t use VA for my medical care, but used my civilian medical care instead, as I was having trouble getting my medical supplies,” he said. “The Sussex County Community Based Outpatient Clinic was available to me and I met with Dr. Romina Thomas. And she turned the tide for me in my thinking of VA and managed to help me get all my supplies with no issues.”

Medals and ribbons awarded to Lieutenant Rine

“So much of medical care is about the intangibles,” Dr. Thomas said. “Am I listened to? Does someone care about what happens to me? The best way to gain confidence in your care is to deliver it properly with genuine care and concern. VA can help so many people by maintaining a culture of respect for Veterans that Veterans can recognize and be helped by. Displaying this message, keeping this culture alive is the best way to help our patients.”

Rine, in a wheelchair since 1967 when he was wounded in Vietnam, explained that establishing a relationship with a provider and getting care through VA has been so important to him.

Top notch doctor – fantastic staff

“I’ve been a patient of hers ever since and she has even taken over most of my primary care now,” Rine said. “She said if I ever had any issues to give her a call. She has changed my way of thinking and she is a top-notch doctor. The staff working with her are fantastic and very cordial. I have been converted and it’s been good.”

Dr. Thomas attributes it to the culture VA fosters in the people that are hired and the Veterans who come for care.

“In VA, there are so many caring and compassionate people who work here because they get to meet people like Mr. Rine,” Thomas said. “It is so easy to talk with him and immediately see what a great contribution he has made to fellow Veterans and for our country. VA attracts people who are motivated and moved by the wonderful and brave patients like Mr. Rine. Serving Veterans elevates our goals of care. We want to help and do our best for heroes like him.”

“I’ve been converted.”

There are still many Veterans who are in need and haven’t taken advantage of services offered to them. They either have outside insurance and use that or are unaware they may qualify for VA health benefits.

There are many ways for the Veteran to receive quality of care especially during the pandemic, from tele-health, video chats to in-person visits. Offering options for health care is paramount.

“I’m a positive person, I like to think, or I wouldn’t be here today,”Rine added. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Give it a try. But I’ve been converted and I have Dr. Thomas and the staff at Georgetown to thank for that.”

Find out if you quality for VA health care

Veterans who have not enrolled in VA health care can visit the VA Health Benefits webpage to find more information around eligibility and instructions on how to enroll.

Wilmington VA Medical Center provides health care services to approximately 33,000 Veterans through its main medical center and five CBOCs in Delaware and southern New Jersey. For more information, please visit www.wilmington.va.gov.


James Pernol is a public affairs specialist for the Wilmington VA Medical Center.

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One Comment

  1. Terry Shroyer June 2, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I was in Vietnam 69 – 70.
    1st. Marine Division, 1st. Motor transport.. Stationed in the Dang area where Agent Orange had been sprayed. I drove through that stuff every single day and about 3 years ago I came down with Bladder Cancer. I’ve had several surgeries
    at the Portland VA Hospital. Doctors and Nurses are the best on the planet. Special thanks to Dr. Tessier. God Bless the VA.

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