VA Secretary Denis McDonough answered the most requested questions from Veterans and their families during a Veterans Day Townhall that was published on Veterans Day 2021. The questions were submitted from Veterans and their families on RallyPoint. Hundreds of more questions were answered by VA subject matter experts on the RallyPoint thread: What would you ask the Secretary of Veterans Affairs?

Video Chapters:

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:27 What does Veterans Day mean to you?
  • 04:53 Wait times/mental health services
  • 08:42 Caregiver support and resources
  • 13:41 COVID-19 vaccine required for VA care?
  • 16:19 Burn pits and delays to establish presumptive conditions
  • 22:03 Will VA cover sex reassignment surgeries?
  • 28:04 Why does VA make it so difficult to refile a disability claim?
  • 30:52 Will VA take inflation into consideration for the cost of living adjustments?
  • 33:19 Will VA expand dental services to more Veterans?
  • 35:36 Will VA end in-person requirements for Post-9/11 GI Bill MVA?
  • 37:47 Will VA expand Vet Center eligibility to Veteran families/survivors?
  • 42:55 Why is VA’s data not standardized across all locations?
  • 45:23 Why does it take so long to get reimbursed for community care?
  • 48:38 What is being done to help homeless Veterans?
  • 52:39 Will Veterans ever get medical marijuana cards from VA?
  • 57:58 What’s your largest obstacle to improving Veteran trust?
  • 1:05:09 Conclusion
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30 Comments

  1. john meaders November 26, 2021 at 8:54 am - Reply

    im a veteran. Four years ago , the VA spent over a million dollars to cure me of cancer. Last week i was told that i cain t see a dentist for a toothache, because im not a service disabled veteran I ask you. What idiot moron, made up this policy.

  2. Dennis Kraft November 25, 2021 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    I have asked about this from two of the VA Town Halls and as always I received no response from the VA. I asked when is the VA going to do something to help the vets of the Human Guinea Pigs on Mine Control at Edgewood Arsenal Maryland in the early 1970s. Everytime I asked about this I get no answer. I have been told that not only Congress and the VA have no plan as of this time ( Nov 25, 2021 ) to help any Vet for this testing. I was 20 years old when I was at Edgewood now I am 66 years old and gad to fight for many years to receive my disabilities. I get no help for any of my pain problems with falling out of a moving jeep in 1975 landing flat on my back receiving a TBI, neck, shoulder, back ,hip, legs and knee pain for over 46 years. Do I have to die first so that the Government and VA can say this never happen. And myself 1 out of the 7,000 plus Veterans that went to Edgewood for this testing. I am a local resadent 1 of 7 kids in my family that grew up and went to Edgewood High School and I am about ready to call the news in Harford County, Maryland and report what I calln CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY that was conducted on U.’S soil and see what the American people think about this.

  3. Buford R Birchett Jr November 25, 2021 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Whatever the case or determent may be, the US gov or VA should NOT have anything to do with sex changes, supporting queer behavior or asking military members to so do. Treat them as humans with respect and no harm, that is all we should do. Otherwise it is on them to cultivate their wants and strange evil desires. NOT the govs responsibility to help them nor promote sin. It is plain and simple straight from GODs mouth it is sin. If your not for him (God) then you against him. We should and must do his will 1st and foremost. Not bend to the wants or needs of a sinful society 1st. This is and shall be our fall as a nation. Read your Bible…. it is all mens guide. Thank you

  4. Scott m Gatewood November 25, 2021 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Would not a determination award from burn pit in the combat zone constitute combat related illness?

  5. bob November 25, 2021 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    How can this draft dodging ahole be our Veterans Administration Secretary?

  6. June Francis November 25, 2021 at 11:21 am - Reply

    My dad has been waiting on a hospital bed and an authorization number to give to his community care doctor but no one bothers to call us back to help. I sent out emails every where asking for phone numbers to the proper place with a direct phone number but all I got was a rude man that just kept telling me that their department was for VA benefits and couldn’t help. Isn’t hospital beds and getting a medical authorization number part of the VA benefits? No one bothers to call to help the families or the veterans but a small number of people. They can fight for our country but they can’t get the help they so deserve for giving their lives for our freedom. Fix this mess before more veterans die before they get the proper help they deserve. I removed my father from a facility that was keeping him over medicated and under fed. Fix your mess.

  7. Dion Medina November 25, 2021 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Some of us 100% P&T disabled Veterans would like to know why Gulf War era Veterans for the caregiver program were skipped and put last? I understand we are all Veterans in need of this service, but we were told VA was doing it in order. But it turns out that they are working on WW2 Veterans at the moment which is understandable, but they also included the Veterans from 9/11 era until now and skipped the Gulf War era Veterans. We won’t be qualified until October 2022. Why?

  8. James Dark November 25, 2021 at 10:31 am - Reply

    I am a partially disabled VietNam era veteran. I received notification over a year ago that I could obtain an ID card that would enable me to access some local military base facilities. I was instructed to simply let the people know at my next Oxnard VA clinic visit so that a photo could be taken. On my next visit I asked about the photo only to be told that the photographer didn’t show up, “Try again later.”
    After three other attempts to rendezvous with the photographer, I was told simply that they didn’t know anything about it, I should just go down to LA.
    As a disabled person, it is not only very inconvenient to make the 50 mile drive, it is very difficult.
    Can you please facilitate my obtaining the promised disabled veteran ID.

  9. Joe Allen Poston November 25, 2021 at 9:35 am - Reply

    I am a 75 year old US Army Vietnam Vet and was awarded a disability rating of 100% due to agent orange exposure resulting in Prostate Cancer. After going through active surveillance for several years, the cancer had started to spread as confirmed by a biopsy. The recommendation by my urologist and an oncologist was to proceed with External Beam Radiation. I began this process in June 2020 and finished in August 2020. In September 2021, I received a phone call from a contracting firm with VA and was asked for an update on my condition. I responded well to the radiation and my PSA has started to drop. After this review, I received a letter from VA stating that my disability benefit had been lowered from 100% to 20%. The letter gave me the option of submitting information to support my claim that it should not be lowered. I submitted the required paperwork through my Representative (VA in Florence, SC) in October but have yet to hear any follow up.

    Even though my prostate cancer is currently in remission, I feel that the decrease in disability is severe. Cancer did not just affect 20% of my life but has affected 100% of my life. I am still having several issues which I am being told will only get worse with time. I had a cancer doctor tell me once that when you have cancer, you will always have cancer. It may temporarily be in remission but symptoms and the possibility of recurrence are always present. My request is that the VA reconsider this drastic reduction in benefits . It appears to me that the VA, by the reduction in benefits, is saying that I would have been better off to not receive treatment and subsequently have many other major issues in the future. This reduction in benefits sends a very confusing message by the VA.

    I have read online several accounts of other veterans who have had the same experience after receiving successful treatment. Thanks for listening and any help will be greatly appreciated.

  10. david shortt November 25, 2021 at 9:11 am - Reply

    What ( if any ) action is required on my part to obtain access for my wife to the Va medical system since she is the wife of a 100% disabled vet.

  11. Robert E Kronenwetter November 25, 2021 at 12:56 am - Reply

    Why are new preemptive conditions under agent orange taking so long for re-evaluation and addition retro pay paid? Burn pits were used in Vietnam at different artillery batteries that were burning human waste as well as unused powder bags but aren’t considered on burn pit registrations?

  12. Richard Gross November 24, 2021 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Personally what I see is the VA secretary beating around the bush on most questions! What I would like to know is why in the hell they want to start paying for Gender reassignment! This totally unnecessary operation! gender reassignment is purely Cosmetic! It does nothing for the person getting it done except mutilate their body…and then the VA will be responsible for the maintenance drugs they take for the rest of their lives! The VA won’t pay for dental unless you are 100% disabled or retired. They say dental is cosmetic (kinda like gender reassignment) Losing teeth is a very big deal and not just cosmetic! ever tried to eat meat or something crunchy with no teeth? Because the VA wouldn’t help me with my dental I had to go cheap as possible and get dentures which I have to remove every night which is a pain, not to mention you always have to carry supplies with you in case they should come loose! You also have a severe bone loss when teeth are pulled and not get an implant! If the VA could have got me implants I would not be having this problem. Dental is not just cosmetic, we need them to eat with and prevent bone loss. not to mention not being able to smile in front of others can damage the mind. Also, first impressions when applying for a job. A toothless smile indicates to some that a person is lazy or a slob and doesn’t take care of their teeth. This is not true.. I always got compliments most of my life on my shiny white straight teeth! Then as I aged they started breaking, some below the gum line causing perondititus and losing teeth. Once teeth are gone the rest have room and start to shift as they also begin to break and fallout.
    But now The VA wants to help people mutilate their bodies removing penises and adding a FAKE vagina or vice versa. That is a procedure that is purely cosmetic and the patient should pay for that. Do you pay for facelifts and other beauty surgeries? I don’t think so! Stop bowing to the left and do what’s right! drop the gender crap and give all vets dental care!

  13. Sandra Rios November 24, 2021 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    No faith in VA system. Disappointed each time I try to get help. I thought the system was getting better. I do not know any veteran who has praised the system. Unfortunately so many HAVE to depend on VA system for care. My heart goes out to them

  14. Larry M Collins November 24, 2021 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    The Secretary, made a comment about other forms of medical treatment that are available for veterans! In the past, my VA doctor would give me a referral out in town, for acupuncture treatment. About the same time in 2017, when the VA misread and then misapplied the 2016 CDC Guideline, the VA also cut off a lot of referrals for veterans suffering from high impact chronic pain. The VA doctors not only force tapered thousands of veterans who were taking high dosages of opioid pain medication, but it made alternative medical treatment unavailable. In my case, I was force tapered from 7.5 MCG Fentanyl Patch every 48 hours, to an unjustified and unethical 90 MG ER Morphine Sulfate daily. The CDC later remarked, that it was not its intent to taper veterans who were doing well managing and controlling their chronic pain with high doses of pain medication. The CDC claims that it only asked doctors to reassess their patients to see if they were likely candidates for tapering. If they weren’t candidates, then doctors just needed to make sure to fully justify and document all veterans taking high doses of opioid pain medication. It’s clearly evident that the VA misread and misapplied the CDC Guideline because of the way that it decided to force taper all veterans with no exceptions! For over 35 years, I considered myself to be a responsible high impact chronic pain patient. I always followed my doctors orders, I didn’t self medicate or abuse my daily high dosage of pain medication, and I didn’t have a know substance abuse disorder. When deciding whether or not a patient has an opioid substance abuse disorder, there is a huge difference between someone being addicted and being dependent! Because of how the VA chose to negatively react to the CDC Guideline, and because doctors totally ignored and abused the “doctor to patient relationship”, impact chronic pain patients like me are left to make some serious decisions about pain management. As veterans/patients with service connected disabilities and having to live with high impact chronic pain as a result of those disabilities, we were never given a say in the decision making process in relation to opioid therapy. Because of how the VA and its doctors have mistreated chronic pain patients, a lot of veterans no longer trust their doctors or have any faith in our government politicians. Thousands of chronic pain patients/veterans (just like me), are now left to make some serious decisions that concern their overall healthcare and treatment for chronic pain. Do we continue to listen to the same doctors who force tapered us (without our input or consent), and then, reduced the daily dosage of our opioid pain medication (which was successfully managing/controlling our chronic pain and allowing us to experience a quality of life that we deserve. Of course, there are always criminal alternatives for those chronic pain patients who wish to obtain drugs illegally. A disheartening result because of the way that the CDC, FDA, DEA, VA, and many doctors chose to negatively react to the 2016 CDC Guideline, is suicide. As a quick way to end the constant pain and suffering (that some veterans experience every day), many veterans have sadly committed suicide or contemplated it! The VA needs to fix this problem now! Chronic pain patients didn’t create the opioid crisis and they definitely aren’t to blame for the constant rise in overdose deaths.

  15. Dale Taylor November 24, 2021 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    It’s the same song and dance with a little different spin. Past President Trump described it best,”Suckers”. The privileged view Veterans as Collateral Damaged Suckers. Veterans and their families poisoned by Agent Orange. Loss of lives including miscarriages and complications from Military Bases drinking water poisoned with TCE and many other hazardous solutions. Truths and Justices are commonly denied for Veterans. Only one truth remains for American Veterans. “ In God We Trust”.

  16. John Conway November 24, 2021 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Why is it taking so long for 5he VA to respond to my agent orange claim. I file it over a year ago and have not heard anything back. I just keep hearing about a backlog. I hope to see my claim processed before I’m dead.

  17. Jeff Petrie November 24, 2021 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    My life has been DESTROYED by the military’s No Tolerance policy against gay veterans like me. It was horrific to be taught by the US Naval Academy that I am a bad person because I experience same-sex attraction. Most of the gay friends I secretly made at Annapolis have been dead for years, by their own hand. — We need an official apology for the ignorant abuse we endured to serve our country. Can you please help make that happen? We deserved SO MUCH BETTER from the nation we served. — Signed, Jeff Petrie, USNA, former LT USN, veteran of Operation Desert Shield, homeless at age 54 in Los Angeles

  18. Robb Johnson November 24, 2021 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Hello Disable Army Vet. (90%) I have had several served connected surgeries and another on Dec 9th 2021. I have also been diagnose Bi-Polar, depression, anxiety. My meds helps some but everyday is a challenge. I am 65 years old and can’t get life insurance because of the medications I take. I.would like to know if VA offer insurance.for Veteran as myself. Thanks

  19. armand November 24, 2021 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    l’ve got a disease from an airgun shot, filed a claim and was ‘dismissed’.?
    Since then, they found over 200k vets with this and changed the rating.
    How do l refile or, do l have to, l was right 20 yrs., they denied, now approverd.
    What do l do please? [hep c]

  20. STEPHAN T LARUE November 24, 2021 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    I AM 100% SERVICE CONNECTED FOR SMC R.1, PARKINSON DISEASE, PULMONARY DISEASE, COVID -19 LUNG DAMAGE, REQUIRES OUTPATIENT OXYGEN THERAPY, LOSS OF USE TO BOTH LEGS, LOSS OF USE TO RIGHT HAND, PTSD, AID & ATTENDANCE BEDRIDDEN. IN APRIL 2018 AFTER MY FOURTH RIGHT LUNG SURGERIES AFTER RIGHT LUNG COLAPSED, I WAS IN BANNER HOSPITAL TUCSON ON SSA EMERGENCY CARE, BANNER CALLED VAMC TUCSON TELLING THEM MY SSA IS RUNNING OUT AND VETERAN IS 100% SERVICE CONNECTED, BUT VAMC TUCSON SAID SINCE I DID NOT SEEN PRIMARY CARE, THEY WOULD NOT TREAT ME IN THERE HOSPITAL. BANNER HOSPITAL LAWYERS ASKED WHERE YOU WANT THIS BETERAN SENT, SO BANNER PERSONNEL PUT ME INTO AMBULANCE AND SENT ME TO TUCSON VAMC, I WAS TREATED IN EMERGENCY, AND ADMITTED IN THE VAMC TUCSON HOSPITAL. I WAS ON 5 LITERS PER MINUTE OF OXYGEN THERAPY, AND I WAS ON HEAVY MEDICATION EACH DAY. AFTER ONE WEEK THERE I STARTED FEELING I WAS TIRED OF LIVING SO I BROKE MY GLASS, TRIED TO CUT MY WRIST, BUT I WAS STOPPED BY A NURSE.. THEN WITHIN TWO DAY, I RECIEVED 15 MINUTE INTERVIEW FROM MENTAL HEALTH. THEN AFTER ANOTHER WEEK I DID NOT RECIEVED ANY MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING, BY NOW I HAVE NOT EATEN ANY FOOD, AND I NEVER HAD A BOWEL MOVEMENT. THEN VA DOCTOR TOLD ME THAT VA IS SENDING ME TO VILLA MARIE CARE CENTER, WHEN I GOT THERE THEIR WAS NO MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, SO I STARTED NOT EATING YET, SO AFTER 25 Days THERE, I CALLED MY WIFE BEG HER TO COME AND GET ME, BECAUSE I WAS IN A NURSING HOME, AND I WAS GOING TO DIE. IN TWO DAYS, MY WIFE SHOWED UP AT THIS CARE CENTER, IN TUCSON, AZ. SHE STARTED CRYING THEN SHE STARTED YELLING AT NURSE POLLY, BECAUSE SHE SAID MY CONDITION WAS AS SKIN AND BONES, THEN SHE TURNED ME OVER TO MY RIGHT SIDE, SHE SAID, I WAS FULL OF CRAP ON MY BODY, AND MY INTESTINES WEREMOUTSIDE OF MY ASS, SHE ASKED THE NURSE TO GET THE DOCTOR, SHE SAID, HE WAS UNAVAILBLE. SO MY WIFE CLEAN ME UP, STrted pushing my intestines back inside my ass, I started screaming in severe pain, but she got them back inside of me. She got me dressed, got me into a taxi, took me home which was a twenty hours trip, I never really remember it, because I was on heavy drugs. when I got home there was several doctors specialist treating me. They took several pictures of me in this condition, and the doctor said I was at the point of my death. Slowly I got little better but I have not walked again on my own, after thisexperience at the Tucson VA Hospital. I have contacted the OIG HOTLINE, AND FILE A TORT CLAIM OF $230,000 DOLLARS IN PERSONAL DAMAGES. I REQUEST IN 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 FOR CLOTHING ALLOWANCE BUT THE CLOTHING ALLOWANCE SAID I WAS NOT DISABLE ENOUGH TO GETTHESE BENEFITS.

  21. Gary Jones November 24, 2021 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    A couple years ago, I was notified that VA was going to expand its Dental care to all included in the Health care. The next step was that VA would be notifying us of this Dental care that would be covered by a select list of Dentists in my area. This was not the “Delta Dental” insurance program. What has happened to this ?

  22. David Sims November 24, 2021 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I wish someone tell me why it’s taking so long to complete my claim. Disability granted for Diabetes with Agent Orange Exposure (Sep2021). Neuropathy for Agent Orange Exposure was deferred until C&P Exam (Nov22nd). And just today 11/24/2021 gets a call being scheduled for a C&P Exam for Eye Conditions (Jan2022). I currently don’t have a claim pending for my eyes, so I question why is this exam required? It’s hard getting answers to these questions and I’ll appreciate any help you can provide.

  23. Jim November 24, 2021 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    I have been waiting 4 months for my DD214 from NPRC in St. Louis, no response to my status inquiry after 3 weeks. VA’s records and letters don’t have my Vietnam service and other details from the DD214 and can’t access them either. The DOD website keeps giving me an error when I try for my service records. The VA needs to have these records accessible to them directly for the Veteran.

    I have been waiting for 2 weeks for a reply from the ASK-VA with a “currently in queue to be reviewed”, well past the 5 day stated response time. There never was any response to my questions, and many others questions, posted in the comments to the VAntange Point Published On: October 20th, 2021. HUD-VASH and SSVF might work for Veterans in some areas that have low incomes and housing costs but is useless in the high cost areas taken over by gentrification. Letting a small number of the Los Angeles unhoused Veterans trade their tents for a cheap garden shed, not a tiny house, isn’t much of a solution either.

    For Secretary McDonough: ” On Veterans Day, There Are Still Thousands of Homeless Vets in L.A. ”
    https://www.rand.org/blog/2021/11/on-veterans-day-there-are-still-thousands-of-homeless.html

    From another of Americas Expendables. So many have died or been wounded so others can act patriotic and not be inconvenienced.

  24. Chris Dlugokenski November 24, 2021 at 6:37 pm - Reply

    My primary care physician is Dr Williams at VA in Fayetteville, NC. My supplemental insurance refuses to recognize this fact. It’s First Medicare. Your assistance on this matter would be appreciated. Refusing to recognize the VA is a scam and could be resolved by a simple Executive Order. I’d be more than happy to draft it, if you’re staff is overburdened.

  25. paul v johnson November 24, 2021 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    I’m a Vietnam Vet- 1966-67.. I served aboard the U.S.S. Carpenter DD 825.. I did 2 six month tours to the western pacific.. notably, in the Tonkin Gulf a good portion of both tours.. The DD 825 did multiple ‘shore-bombardment’ operations.. I submitted the necessary ‘Blue Water Veterans Benefits’ (as approved by congress in 2019) application, complete w/ ALL documentation necessary.. aka… Urological and Audiology signed statements from those I was required to visit… My COMPLETED application was received by the VA in June of 2021.. But NO decision has been forthcoming as to acceptance as of yet.. it will be 6 months soon- My question is- WHY !!??
    Paul V. Johnson

  26. Patrick English November 24, 2021 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    The VA does nothing but LIE and have people working for them that just sit around getting paid and beating OFf

  27. Steve Martin November 24, 2021 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Why am I having copays since I was drafted, Was told “care for life”. Started with no copays, but now getting costly!!!

  28. Richard d wallace November 24, 2021 at 2:22 am - Reply

    I have a question?
    Im a 75 yer old. Us marine vietnam 100% disabled vet
    I received clothing allowance for app 10 years for a portable wheelchair
    I filedfor it this year. First they said they lost it. I usually get it in sept
    I waited till the end of oct. 2021 to call. They told me they lost it. I told them i have a date stamped copy of when they received it. They told me to reapply immeditely. I cant walk so my wife went there with the copy for the second time. I finally got a letter from the va. They said portable wheelchairs were eliminated. So your not qualified. I planned on that money for thanksgiving diner and xmas presents. You could have notafied me when you changed the rules for a wheelchair. But you couldnt bother. So i called my family and told them there won’t be any thanksgiving or xmas presents because the va screwed me. I read your giving more and more to veterans. Did you announce whatyou are taking away? I’m really disapointed in the va. But should have expected it. THANY YOU

    • Zaza November 25, 2021 at 2:56 pm - Reply

      I’m sorry you got screwed, but the money is for “clothing allowance” not for Xmas or Thanksgiving allowance. It’s a bummer that this benefit no longer applies to you. Happy Holidays!

  29. Michael Gryder November 23, 2021 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    I’m curious to find out at the community health why it takes so long to get an appointments approved for Accurpuncture I quit taking narcotics in 2013 and have been using Accurpuncture for my pain relief, it’s been great for the last 8 years but now they denied my request for service and the reason given if it hasn’t got better by now it won’t get better. Optim health care instead of tri-west this year is a pain in the behind and no one to help

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