Hello, my name is Scott, and I am an Army veteran, technically from the first Gulf War.
I say technically because the actual first war was fought and the enemy defeated when I was still a senior in high school. However, since i served in a combat zone in the Persian Gulf while the conflict still was technically in effect, and placed my butt on the line for the Kuwaiti people, I qualify. My Primary MOS was 19k10, tanker in the First Cavalry Division, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment out of Ft. Hood Texas.
I rotated back to the world all the way back in May 1996, got out two weeks early to go back to college, got my degree and a good paying job with benefits for many years. Now that i am not employed, and my family and I have no health benefits, I have come to the VA for assistance. In working with a medical equipment company, I managed to meet the Assistant Chief of Prosthetics, Greg MacFarland. Greg was also in the Cavalry but as a medic and has been with the VA since getting out of the Army over a decade ago. He asked me if I had signed up and when I told him that I needed to and hadnt because I had civilian jobs that always provided benefits, he jumped out from around his desk and we walked down to the eligibility office and he introduced me to Bay Pines. After a short wait, and filling out my paperwork, I spoke with a counselor who was very friendly and answered all of my questions. I got my picture taken and they set the first appointment for orientation. August 6th at 8am.
New Patient Orientation
8am and I am still sleepy, I didnt have to fast for this even though they are going to take blood and urine. As soon as I get there, i get my cup. Looks like I will need to finish my coffee first, I am the third one here, so I have time. Set down the sample cup and coffee at the seat in the back corner and commence heavy paper reading.
I am shocked at how many guys are in their 60's plus and are new patients.
I am glad I did not wait until then to get signed up. Even when i do get health insurance, I am going to continue using the VA and let them bill the insurance provider so I can keep in the system. You never know what the future may hold, so its good to have a backup plan.
In the meanwhile, I got my blood drawn, finally got the urge to fill that sample cup and sat back down for the presentation. Pharmacy, FDVA, and general health system familiarity are some of the topics covered. Everyone here is so nice and respectful. It just goes to show that you cant judge by what you hear about the VA, you have to experience it for yourself.
Well, I am a new patient now, and I got my first appointment, thank goodness this one is at 10, 8/12 with the primary. That was fast!! In the civilian world, it took longer than that unless I was bleeding from my aorta to see a doc. So far, I'm liking this VA a lot!