For most veterans, Veterans Affairs or “VA”, can invoke many types of emotions and feelings. Unfortunately, most of the comments/views are more negative than positive. In recent years, there have been many controversies over the administration and care vets receive at various VA medical centers. The VA is making headway in improving delivery of medical care. Biggest change in recent years has been the push to outsource medical care to civilian providers when delays for speciality care at VA clinics/medical centers occurs. Another way that has proven effective in managing care is telehealth services. Instead of visiting your medical provider or specialist in-person, you can use VA Video Connect (VVC).
VCC service is useful for those vets who live far from the local VA clinic/medical center or can not physically make it to their appointments. Instead of spending hours driving back-and-forth for medical appointments, vets can stay at home and use VVC when practical (depends on the medical needs of the vet). VVC can be accessed via mobile phone, electronic tablet, and/or computer. Best part is having a digital face-to-face conversation with your provider.
This telehealth choice can have issues with the most common being connectivity via internet or service provider in which poor or drop signal can occur. For these unforeseen circumstances, appointments can be rescheduled and/or VA customer service can offer some help as well. But what about those vets who don’t even have internet access? According to the Federal Communications Commission, 15% of Veteran households do not have a way to connect to the internet at home. That’s why VA Telehealth Services has developed the Digital Divide Consult and the connected device program. The programs help qualifying Veterans receive VA-loaned equipment (1). For mental health services, VCC can improve both access to and continuity of care which can help. If you haven’t already reached out to your local VA and taken advantage of the telehealth services, do it now. As vets, we need to challenge the VA to always strive to provide better care, give constructive feedback as needed, and use the services that are offered.
I will continue to devote my time to researching what services the VA offers, especially for mental health care, and be an advocate for continue improvement in our medical care. Please comment on your experience with the VA and telehealth services. Unit next time.
(1) Office of Connected Care. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2021, from https://connectedcare.va.gov/whats-new/veteran%E2%80%99s-corner/va-bridges-digital-divide-veteran-old-laptop