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The Social Media Contributor Comments: March 11, 2013



A Few Things I Like about the V.A.

-By SFC Andre V. Milteer, USA (Ret.)

So much of the time, we read, see, hear, or meet Veterans that are unhappy about their Veterans Administration experiences and interactions. With regard to issues such as Veterans Health care, Disability benefits, G.I. Bill education reimbursements, or other important areas of benefits and compensation, the record is chuck full of complaints…and legitimately so.

Many Veterans are newly separated; new to the V.A. – having served the Nation during periods of combat operations. The impact of combat upon the newly-separated Veteran is devastating and quite lonely.

Given all of the aforementioned, I believe that there is room for the expression of gratitude and accolades for the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs. My position extends itself towards the sub agencies of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) as well as the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Yes, I realize that the issues continue to mount (one would have to be living under a rock or within a cave in order to be ignorant to the fact).


My V.A. Experience

Separating from the Army back in ’97, I entered into the V.A. system. Although my service included the Persian Gulf War period (Desert Storm ’90), I was fortunate to not have been deployed into the theater. Of course, many of my buddies were not so fortunate. Many of these Veterans experienced medical issues related to their Gulf war service. The most prevalent medical malady was respiratory problems…probably as a result of environmental exposure?

Although the V.A. did not (initially) rule in favor of a correlational link between Gulf war service and the medical complaints of Gulf War Veterans, the V.A. did embark upon a course of exhaustive medical research into the epidemiology or source of the Veteran’s complaints. Certainly, many of the favorable decisions have come late and painstaking slow, yet the evidence of law demands such. Again, one side of me realizes that Blank Checks can’t be disbursed without legal justification; the Veteran-side of me identifies with the plight of former Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen/Marines that Need quick and timely decisions.

My transition from Military-to Civilian has been smooth, yet I’ve begun to tap into more and more of my Veterans entitlements as I progress in age. The Veteran cemetery and burial benefits are areas that I never considered early on; being as healthy-as-a-horse, I never gave much thought to the utilization of the V.A. Health services. After a 10 year separation, I reentered the VHA for preventative medical (screening) services. Although I frequently forget or fail to prioritize appointments, my regional V.A. medical center dutifully notifies me of the need to calendar-schedule such appointments. Items like colonoscopies, primary care physician visits, lifestyle assessments, and other preventive medical maintenance checklist adds to my overall quality of life.

Beyond the Obvious

Our Military of this United States of America is the World’s Finest! Through my own informal assessment of the Veteran care of other countries, I submit that Our Veterans Administration of this United States of America is the World’s Finest! We have a V.A. Secretary (Shinseki) that has served as a Combat Veteran; the VBA Undersecretary (Hickey) is also a Veteran. Entering VHA facilities, I am greeted with a sense of reverent respect from the staff. The philosophy of ICARE permeates the V.A. landscape. Community VET CENTERS are located with our backyard neighborhoods. The President has even elevated the V.A. to cabinet-level status.

As we move forward, I believe that each and every Veteran should continue to assertively engage the V.A. process to gain receipt of their lawful entitlements. I believe that the V.A. should continue to strive for never-ending and constant improvement of their processes and services (while achieving cost-cutting savings without a decline in care). I believe that Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) should partner and collaborate with both Veterans as well as the V.A. “Well what about the disability claims rating backlog?” I hear you ask. The answer or solution is not a simple one. Yet, I believe that the V.A., VSOs, and Veterans need to remember this:

Our Veterans Administration of this United States of America is the World’s Finest!



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