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  1. I used the VA healthcare for the first time today and I wanted to pass along the info so anyone else who hasn't applied would. I arrived at 0945 for a 1000 appointment. I was checked in by 0950 with someone who just deals with checkins and updating your visit, with a nurse by 0955 doing my vitals and measurements and in front of my doctor by 1001. Since it was a first appointment, the intake time with your doctor is estimated at an hour while they go over your medical history and the purpose of your visit, services, immunizations, etc. By 1045 I was back with a checkin counselor and at 1100 I was waiting for my blood to be drawn for lab work. I hadn't eaten yet so they could pull blood for all the lab work which is typical for a full physical. By 1110 I was done with blood and urine and off to see a clerk to take care of my VA ID card. I was done at 1120 and on my way home. I've read/heard horror stories about the VA Healthcare system and I wanted to say it's not like that at my VA. We have 5 -7 clinics or so and I believe 1-2 hospitals in the Las Vegas area. I can't speak for every clinic because I think our old hospital was in pretty bad shape and closed down for a new one. Every single person I had contact with was friendly (most of the women were pretty, coincidence?), and the compartmentalization made every part of the process quick and painless. Maybe in a place with a higher population density of veterans this isn't the case. I know that everyone was friendly and I ended up with an vision appt, an appt for a scan I needed done at the hospital, and an occupational rehab appointment. All of those appointments are referrals from the clinic and take place at the hospital. The doctor explained some of the services I didn't know I could use (primarily vision and mental health services that I thought were only for service associated medical). I can't stress enough how helpful and friendly everyone was that I came into contact with. The lone exception was the guy who drew blood, but I guess it couldn't be 100 pct. It's not that he was unfriendly, he just wasn't friendly and I don't hold it against him. He drew 10 vials of blood for blood work and did it without causing me undue pain, he can not talk to me while he does this and I am cool with it as long as he doesn't move that needle every time he switches vials. The moral of the story? Apply for your benefits. A friend of mine took his kid to the doctor to get a refill on his ADD meds and didn't see the doctor for 2.5 hours. He pays 200+ a month for his family's benefits and uses their PPO or HMO. I was completely through in less time than it took just for him to see his doctor. Even if you have health benefits, still apply. You never know when you'll be out of work and be able to fall back on these benefits. You can use the VA system if you have benefits and they will do your copay and bill your benefits to my knowledge. There's literally no reason to wait. You served, you earned it.
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