Finally, Some Good News For Veterans

Most everyone knows about the wait time scandal and other horror stories from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, besides the appointment of Dr. David J. Shulkin as the new Secretary of VA, there is finally good news for veterans being reported.

Here are three stories.

The first one addresses the wait time scandal: the VA has created what is called an “online tool” for veterans. It’s actually a website entitled Access and Quality Tool, which provides answers to four questions:

• How quickly can my VA facility see me?

• How satisfied are veterans with their care in my facility

• How does care in my VA facility compare to other hospitals in the area?

• How is the VA system doing with access nationally?

In addition, the site provides information that includes the following:

• Average wait times for patients to be seen in their local area.

• Descriptions of veterans’ experiences scheduling primary- and specialty-care appointments at specific VA facilities.

• Quality of care data for VA medical centers, comparing them with local private-sector hospitals.

• Current wait time at any VA healthcare facility in the country.

Commenting about the site, VA’s acting UnderSecretary For Health, Dr. Poonam Alaigh, said:

“This is really a very exciting time for us as we’re evolving our culture and making sure that we are transparent, and we’re providing our veterans with empowering truths so that they can decide for themselves when, where and how they should be receiving care.”

The second report that addresses the wait time issue is almost stunning: the VA is considering allowing veterans to seek treatment at CVS Minute Clinics.

It makes sense since CVS is the largest pharmacy retailer in the US. The plan is for the VA

To electronically share medical records electronically, and provide patient summaries for the VA should the patient need additional services.”

The arrangement with CVS is currently being beta-tested in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. Dr. Shulkin hopes to expand the program nationally sometime in the future

And the third report: just this week, we find out that Congress is quietly trying to pass a GI Bill 3.0 by Labor Day. The legislation would

Revamp of service members’ educational benefits, with $3 billion in new spending planned over the next decade.

As it now stands there are already a number of issues with the plan. Various veteran service organizations (VSO) have provided support as well as complaints with the bill. There is no doubt that the finalized law will take away the majority of the doubting VSOs.

Regardless, most military service members and veterans will welcome most of the proposed changes. In the meantime, their VSOs will certainly represent their views at every step of the bill as it is being written.

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Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at [email protected]