The medical problems faced by veterans in the country are many and difficult.
Equally challenging are efforts to treat them effectively, with compassion and care, and at a reasonable cost.
These efforts resulted in the introduction of the VA Mission Act almost three months ago. Its impact was the focus of a panel discussion at Wilmington VA Medical Center on Monday, hosted by Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware.
Terry Baker, a U.S. Navy and Vietnam War veteran from Townsend, stands up for his fellow veterans as a National Service Officer for Vietnam Veterans of America.
“You have a litany of disabilities and cancers,” Baker said. “You could have a veteran who not only has diabetes from Agent Orange, but also heart disease, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease…it never seems that you only have one.”
Baker added that the Mission Act had some benefits. It is designed to expand options for veterans seeking care outside of the VA system, such as at an urgent care center, while still being able to use their veterans benefits.
However, as they venture into the medical community, they discover what many other people already know: wait times can be long, paperwork can be daunting, and specific services aren’t exactly local.
“Here we’re expanding options for veterans, but if there’s no one to actually deliver the services, that’s a moot point,” Blunt Rochester said. “Part of our goal is also to focus on medical shortages and look at those specifically for veterans.”
Wilmington VA Medical Center Director Vince Kane said some veterans seeking care end up returning to the VA system, while others find satisfaction with non-VA services.
“We need to have the right staff in place to help these veterans navigate the challenges of the health care system so that they get their care in a timely manner and the quality is at a level that respects the status of a veteran, who understands what it is to be a veteran, and that veterans get the care they need and deserve,” Kane said.