On the heels of a deadly heroin overdose, the VA is facing a crisis of its own, as doctors struggle to keep up with the swelling number of new patients and veterans struggling to access treatment.
Here are some steps you can take to help: 1.
Get your medical records.
Many doctors and other medical personnel are struggling to keep track of the patients they treat and to track their medical histories.
If you’re a patient, call your local VA health center and ask about your record.
If a doctor has a question about your medical history, give them the name of the person you saw, and ask them to call you back if they have any questions.
You can also find out if you qualify for any medical benefits.
Find a VA provider.
If your doctor or other health-care provider doesn’t have your record, contact them.
The VA will let you know how to find out where you can go to get a copy of your records, and where to get more information about your doctor.
File a complaint.
A VA worker can help you file a complaint about a doctor or another health- care provider.
To file a grievance, contact your local HR office or the VA office nearest you.
For more information, visit: www.va.gov/go/report.
You may also contact the VA Claims and Accountability office, a division of the VA that investigates complaints of fraud and abuse.
Ask for more information.
Many VA health-systems are reporting an increase in patients, and the VA and other health care systems are trying to figure out what caused the spike.
To get more answers, call the VA hotline at 1-800-424-VETS (467-8282), or go to www.VA.gov.
Get help if you need it.
If the VA isn’t able to help you, there are some things you can do: Contact the VA on your own.
Ask your local health- system or VA office to send you a letter or call.
Ask the VA to send out notices to all VA health and medical centers.
Tell your local hospital, VA health care provider, and other providers that you have a complaint and need help.
Ask VA to provide you with an interpreter.
Ask to see an appointment appointment if you have one.
Get more than one appointment if your doctor doesn’t allow it.
Volunteer to help.
Get a job.
Volunteer with a local non-profit organization or social service agency.
Go on your personal Facebook or Twitter account to talk about the opioid crisis with other veterans.
Ask other veterans about the VA crisis.
Talk to people who have lost family members to opioid addiction.
Get in touch with your local media outlet and ask questions about the crisis.
Ask a question on your local news website.
Find other people in your community who are struggling with addiction and the opioid problem.
Ask others in your own community to share their stories.
If it’s difficult to find someone to talk to, talk to friends and family.
If they can’t talk to you, ask them about it. 6.
Volunteer in your area.
Volunteer at a local veterans service center or other community resource center.
Volunteer for the VA, the American Legion, or any other group that provides support to veterans.
Learn more about volunteer opportunities in your local area.
You could also get help at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), a federal agency that provides health-related services to veterans, by contacting the VA at 1 (800) 724-9888.
The VHA has resources on its website and at its toll-free number, www.veterans.gov, where you will find information about veterans, and how to get help.
Talk with a friend.
If someone you know has been struggling with opioid addiction or another medical issue, you may want to talk with them.
Talk is one of the best ways to help someone with addiction, according to Dr. William S. McCrae, chief medical officer at VA Medical Center in Boston.
If talking is not an option, call an addiction counselor at 1–866–722–4743 or 1–800–662–1337.
The counseling service is free and confidential.
The helpline also offers referrals for local crisis centers.
Help out with your own recovery.
You or a loved one can go through any of the following steps to get involved with your recovery: Get help from a trained professional who specializes in addiction.
Learn about ways to talk directly to yourself and others about the symptoms of addiction.
Find out about addiction treatment options.
Take a drug test.
Ask someone at the VA or other VA health system to help test you for drugs.
Take an inventory of your assets.
Find the best way to pay for all your medications, including prescriptions.
Find an addiction support group.
Learn how to use a website to find other people who are also struggling with the same issues you are.
Find help with your insurance or a new health plan. Get