Mayo Clinic Connect
Is anyone else dealing with the VA? How long does it usually take to get approved, see a Dr and get referred back to your oncologist?
Hello, @eott6913 — that is a critical question when dealing with a serious illness like lung cancer about how long the process might take — getting approved, seeing a doctor and getting referred back to your oncologist, as you mentioned here. Here I'm tagging a few members who have talked about the VA, military service or who might otherwise have knowledge about how things work with the VA, like @johnledford @dogwithem @johnbishop @paladin121@andtridd63 @19lin @1jonwilcox @johnjames @melissa23 @tntredhead @missisays7 @predictable @retairforceman and @latersbaby15. Hoping they can tell you about whether they've dealt with the VA and give you an idea of how long this process might take for your husband.
How is your husband feeling?
@eott6913 I an a disabled veteran and I have dealt with them for many years. Since I do not know where you are in the process I'll start from the beginning.
First you have to establish eligibility with the Veteran Administration (VA) If you husbands condition is related to his military service he will need his military medical records. Other wise take a copy of his DD214 (military discharge) and go to any veterans medical facility to establish financial need. You might want to start by calling 1-800-827-1000 the national number for the VA sometimes it is hard to get through but they do have extended hours so you can call in the early morning or into the early evening and Saturdays. Also most veterans organizations have a Service Officer who can help you get started, if you belong to a group like the American Legion or AMVETS or any of the many groups they can help you get started and will represent you free of charge whether your a member or not. Also many states have veterans service officers to help with similar matters. Look in your phone book or online to find out how the contact them. Remember their services are free, so if someone tries to charge you a fee then I would ask someone else.
If you have done this then call the nearest VA medical center and ask for an appointment. They will have you see a primary doctor and they can refer you to a cancer specialists. Depending on the area you live in this can take from a few weeks to a few months. This can change depending on how urgent things are and if you connect with the right people. The VA has a person who can help if you run into trouble, they are called a patient advocate. Also many VA medical Centers have State or national service officers at the VA who can help advise you and they can file claims for you if you think there maybe a connection between his service and his illness. Do not over look that there can be something related to his service let the service officers advise you about this.
Make sure to take any private medical records with you for your first visit. Keep in contact with your civilian doctor even if the VA picks up your husband as a patient as there are times when you may need to see a doctor immediately and the VA is not responsive. Also the VA is used to train many doctors so the ones you see first maybe young and foreign, but they do have the training. Also they may change doctors on you as doctors in training will come into a specialty for about 6 months training and then rotate onward. It is wise to get to know the nurses that work in your clinic as they maybe around longer although the VA trains nurses also.
As I said I have lots of experience with the VA, perhaps the best thing you can do is get to know one of the Service Officers who works for the VA or National veterans organization and ask them to advise you, then stay in touch with them. If you can find a mentor to help you such as another veteran who has been through this and can go with you some times, this could be a relative, friend or neighbor. Don't put too much stress on your back so that you get worn out before things get to far along. My mother and her father had cancer so I know it can be a long drawn out process that can burn you out before you know it. If you have children that are old enough to help let them help and get them involved if you and they are comfortable doing it.
Also if you run into a road block ask the doctor or nurse what they would do next or what would they recommend, you can get a lot of good ideas this way.
I will probably think of more to say as soon as I stop but it is early AM now and my typing has gotten very bad so please forgive the errors. Good Luck and may God Bless you and your family. 19lin
Liked by Colleen Young, Connect Director, John, Volunteer Mentor, Martin Jensen, Volunteer Mentor, Lisa Lucier, Connect Moderator
Hello @eott6913, although I'm a Vietnam Vet I've never had to use the VA Hospital for health care. They have a website that walks you through what you need to do:
Here in Minnesota each county has a VA representative that is usually a veteran who helps you through the process. My neighbor used to be the rep for our county. They are like an advocate and help you deal with the bureaucracy. I would check with your local government services as well as look through what is on their website. I've had several friends who love the care they've received from the Minneapolis VA Hospital.
Liked by Lisa Lucier, Connect Moderator
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Thank you so much ❤️
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