I’m saddened when I hear veterans and/or their families talk about how they cannot get services from the VA, or when I learn that other healthcare providers do not believe services are available for veterans.
I’ll admit, the VA medical system can seem confusing to the uninitiated – but the services are readily available, and here in Maine, they are wonderful. The folks at Togus work very hard to ensure people get what they need, when they need it, and that the veterans they care for feel heard.
It’s the VA. It’s too confusing
When trying to obtain services, having some basic knowledge will help you navigate the system more readily:
First, veteran healthcare services are not the same as veteran benefit services. Healthcare comes through the medical center branch of the VA, and veteran benefits happens on the ‘other side’ of the system. The two parts work together, but one is not necessarily dependant on the other (or visa-versa).
This handy reference explains what is available through VA Maine Healthcare at Togus:
Note at the bottom of it, there is a short reference to the benefit services side of the VA.
In order to receive healthcare through the VA, one needs to be enrolled in the medical system. That’s easy enough to do and it doesn’t keep you from using other healthcare providers if you already have that. If you qualify, what it does do is make it easier for you to obtain needed services you may later need or want to access.
The ins-and-outs of receiving services, co-pays, and other insurances is too complicated for this post and varies person-to-person. If you find yourself in circumstances like that, stick it out. There are folks up at Togus who specialize in sorting all that out.
Once registered/enrolled, the VA can help with pretty much everything you saw using the link above.
How it works: the nutshell version
One2One Home Care interfaces primarily with the folks in who coordinate extended care services for veterans. It basically works like this:
~ You or your loved one is a veteran enrolled at Togus for healthcare.
~ The veteran’s health situation suggests home services or home healthcare is needed.
~ Tell the VA physician that would be helpful, or the physician suggests it based upon your health condition/screening.
~ The VA physician writes an order for services, which is received by the extended services team.
~ They send a referral out to all the agencies in Maine who provide services under contract with the VA.
~ An agency picks up the referral and contacts you to being services.
The agency submits service claims to the VA, who then pays the agency.
I’m not that bad off. There are vets who need this more than me.
I’ve encountered a number of veterans who refuse services, thinking they don’t need the help or that another veteran will go without if they have services. These services are available to all veterans who need them so long as there is an agency available. Do NOT forego services if you need them – you will not be short-changing another veteran if you receive services.
And those veterans who have insisted they didn’t need the help? They did. Most often, when a veteran who refuses services, we hear back in a few months that things have gotten worse and the services are desperately needed.
Trust me: get started early. Accept the help. Let your physician at least do the referral for services, including a social worker visit. Those folks are really great at helping families figure things out and getting you access to services in your area. You served your country. When your country wants to serve you, don’t refuse that.
Valerie Lovelace, One2one Home Care manager, is a twenty-year Navy veteran. One2One interfaces with the VA to provide home services for veterans in Lincoln and surrounding counties.