Dr. Emily Gilmore, Department of Veterans Affairs health care provider on November 15, 2012
Carol Rogers, center, a volunteer at Roudebush Veterans Affairs Hospital in Indianapolis, ushers Soldiers of the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team through a post mobilization health reassessment. Rogers along with hundreds of other staff hosted the brigade as a part of an ongoing initiative to address health concerns of returning veterans. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Lesley Newport)
Dr. Emily Gilmore is a psychology postdoctoral fellow in the Trauma Recovery Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System
It has been my pleasure to serve veterans and service members as a VA provider for the past three years. As a service member, reservist, National Guard member or veteran, you may wonder, “What can the VA offer me?” Here are five reasons why you should consider seeking VA care:
1. Exclusive dedication to providing quality services for veterans and service members. It’s all we do. VA patients are serving or have served in the military and so has many of our staff. Our health care providers are nationally recognized leaders in treating polytrauma, chronic pain, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). For example, we have dedicated centers like:
2. Accessibility and continuity of care. VA facilities exist in every U.S. state and territory. The VA uses a national record, which means you can enroll in care and receive treatment at any VA facility in the country without needing to transfer records. VA offers telehealth (phone and Internet) services to improve access to care and connects veterans to online and phone resources including:
- Veterans Crisis Line (800-273-8255) — a 24/7 confidential toll-free hotline for veterans and their families
- My HealtheVet — once enrolled in this program, patients can refill prescriptions online and send secure messages to their providers
- VA Caregiver Support Line (855-260-3274) — a telephone support service for family members who are providing care for veterans or service members
- National Resource Directory — a comprehensive directory of services available to service members and veterans
3. Nationally recognized expertise in medical and mental health services.
- Specialized medical care teams:polytrauma, organ transplantation, neurology, pain management, sleep, etc.
- Primary care and pharmacy
- Specialized mental health care for anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance use, TBI, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders, anger and pain management, etc.
- Clinics dedicated to specific types of veterans:
- Women’s clinics for gynecology, primary care and counseling services
- OEF/OIF/OND clinics for service members, reservists, or National Guard members transitioning from active duty
4. Programs to assist with housing, employment, education, legal issues, homelessness, etc.
5. A lifetime of care and support. VA facilities serve veterans and service members from ages 18 to 95 and older. It can be hard to keep in touch with your fellow service members after discharge, but VA offers a place where you can build relationships with veterans of all eras and get the support you need.
The information I’ve included is only a small portion of everything available. For more information, visit www.va.gov or your local VA website (go to the main VA webpage, select “Locations,” pick your state, and then choose a facility).
I highly encourage you to seek VA services. All it takes is a visit to your local VA. It’s never too late to get started on caring for your needs.
The information contained in this article is solely the opinion of Dr. Gilmore and is not endorsed by the Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs.