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Some unenrolled vets can get VA health care


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POSTED: Sunday, March 22, 2009

Question: If a veteran cannot be enrolled due to Department of Veterans Affairs restrictions, can he or she still be eligible for VA hospital and outpatient care?

Answer: Yes, under these conditions: treatment for military sexual trauma, or head or neck cancer related to nose or throat radium treatment while in the military; readjustment counseling services; treatment related to service-connected conditions; special registry examinations, such as Agent Orange, Gulf War; and care for a noncompensable service-connected condition. Also, if the VA determines a veteran has a condition requiring immediate medical treatment, it will provide treatment on a humanitarian basis. The veteran will be charged if he or she is not otherwise eligible for such care.

Catastrophically disabled veterans, who would not otherwise be eligible for enrollment, will be assigned to Priority Group 4, which enrolls them. To request an evaluation, veterans can contact the VA Medical Center enrollment office at 433-0600.

Q: What is a traumatic brain injury?

A: A traumatic brain injury is a disruption of normal brain function that occurs from a blow or jolt to the head. Such injuries vary in severity, ranging from mild, in which a patient is briefly unconscious or mentally unstable, to severe, meaning a patient is unconscious for a long period of time. Many military personnel have been through attacks from rocket-propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and land mines, which result in serious brain injuries. Symptoms, which can be subtle and might not appear immediately, include persistent headaches and neck pain; difficulty in remembering, concentrating or making decisions; slowed thought process, speech, action and reading; confusion; mood swings; changes in sleep patterns; lightheadedness, loss of balance; and nausea.

If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Department of Veterans Affairs at 433-0049.