VA Choice Program – Not a Silver Bullet for Veterans, at least not this one.

So, let me just start out by setting the tone for this post right now:

The Veteran’s Administration “Choice” Program, started in the wake of the various VA scandals and designed to let veterans get care outside the VA system due to backlogs or other non-availability, OFFICIALLY sucks.

Let me set the stage… in the fall of 1989, a bright-eyed young Airman injured his back while attending Technical Training at Keesler Air Force Base in beautiful Biloxi, Mississippi.

For the next 20 years, he dealt with low back pain that ranged in intensity from a dull and constant “2” to an acute and excruciating “10.” Then he retired, and he still deals with it.

The only bit of relief he gets is from a chiropractor, and even that is only incomplete relief. But, hey, something is better than nothing, right? So he pays out of his pocket, since VA apparently doesn’t believe in Chiropractic care.

Then, suddenly, they DO believe! Chiropractic care becomes obtainable through the Choice Program. Oh, happy day!

But, there’s a caveat: ongoing care isn’t authorized. Six visits in sixty days, and then you have to request additional services.

Of course, you can’t do that until your last appointment is done, and then the request gets lost, or stuck somewhere, and of course, they don’t tell you or anything until you call in and ask “what’s going on with it?”

So, more than a month (sometimes waaayyyy more than a month) can go by between visits. If you’ve ever been to a chiropractor, you know how bad that can be.

My chiropractor put in a request for additional services on March 7. I called the Choice folks on April 11 and was told that it would be elevated and that I would receive a call within a couple of days to schedule my first authorized appointment. By the way, that part is stupid, too. It’s additional services, so just let me schedule my own damned appointment.

But I digress.

I called again today (April 19), since I never got a call back, and was told that they can’t tell me when the request will be processed, since VA just changed how they’re processing requests for additional services.

So, thanks for nothing. I suppose I’ll just suck it up and suffer until you pull your collective heads out of your asses. No, really, it’s totally fine. I don’t even know why I asked for treatment in the first place.

As an aside, the entire screed you just read doesn’t even take into account the fact that, while the chiropractor takes care of my low back pain (for the most part), it does nothing for the Sciatic Nerve in my right side: it gets no relief at all. So I still live day by day, knowing that standing, sitting, walking, or breathing could send a wave of numbness and/or excruciating pain down my right leg, taking me out of commission for anywhere from 10 minutes to 4 hours or more.

If anyone wonders why vets get addicted to pain pills, it’s because, for some people, that’s the only relief they get from the health care system they’re in. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that actually does work on pain.

I fear ever becoming addicted to pain pills. Even after my many surgeries on knees and ankles, I rarely take more than 1 or 2 of the pills they give me, and gut out the rest. Yes, I fear it that much. I know how much relief I get. I know how being pain free reduced lets me get some actual, real, SLEEP.

But in the back of my mind, I fear needing that pill. In my mind, I already want it, because I know what it can do for me. But I fear it because of what it can do to me.

I guess the point of all this is to tell you to thank a Veteran, and reform the VA.

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