Published On: August 7th, 2021|513 words|1.7 min read|
Bronwyn Emmet is a public affairs specialist for the National Veterans Outreach Office
Army Veteran Rich retired after 26 years in 1989. Years later, when he began have hearing problems, he came to VA for care and found that it was much more convenient than he anticipated. He joined us to share that story.
When did you begin to receive health care from VA?
When I retired in ’89, I was in the Washington, D.C., area and I went over to the VA clinic in downtown Washington and registered. Then I went ahead and got on the books, did all the paperwork and so forth.
But at that time I was still working and I still had medical insurance. And I didn’t really use VA for the first number of years until I moved to Florida.
And at that time, I thought, it’s probably a good idea because I was having some difficulty with my hearing. While I was in the military I served in the field artillery, 105 howitzers, eight-inch howitzers. Of course my hearing wasn’t the greatest.
What was your experience with the health care system in Florida?
My initial trip to get into VA in Florida was about an hour-and-a-half drive for me to get to what’s called Bay Pines Hospital in St. Petersburg. I was very happy when I went through all of the testing and the in-processing when the woman who was setting up my first appointment with the doctor indicated to me that there was a clinic down in Port Charlotte. And that was really great because it was like a 20 to 25 minute drive for me instead of an hour and a half.
A lot of people think of VA as the medical center. They don’t know about these community-based outpatient clinics. Were you surprised when you found out?
Absolutely. For some reason I thought that when the doctor in Port Charlotte was going to refer me to the clinic for hearing loss that I’d have to go back up to Bay Pines in Saint Petersburg. He said, no, we actually have a clinic here.
And the doctor is in here two days a week. And I think it was two or three weeks later I had an appointment to see a doctor and to do my lab work down at Port Charlotte clinic. I have used that ever since.
Every year I go back for a checkup with that clinic. And that’s where I took my hearing test. I think by bringing the care to the community, you’re helping that Veteran in trying to reduce his travel time, his travel expenses, just to get some specialty care that he needs.
And I think it’s great.
Do you feel like VA is there for you if you need it?
Absolutely. All of my visits to the VA clinics, both St. Petersburg and Port Charlotte, have been very positive. Go witness it. Go to VA and see if they will help you. And you know what? They will.