Special conditions will qualify for VA care


POSTED: Sunday, April 05, 2009

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

Answer: Yes; if there are conditions related to military sexual trauma; head or neck cancer related to nose or throat radium treatment while in the military; readjustment counseling services (e.g., Vet Centers); treatment related to service-connected conditions; Special Registry examinations (e.g., Agent Orange, Gulf War); and care for a non-compensable service-connected condition. Additionally, if VA determines a veteran has a condition requiring immediate treatment, VA will provide medical treatment. VA must charge for such care. Disabled veterans, who would not otherwise be eligible for enrollment due to VA's enrollment restrictions, will be assigned to priority group 4. To request an evaluation, contact the VA Medical Center at 433-0600.

Q: What is a traumatic brain injury?

A: A traumatic brain injury is a disruption of the normal brain function that occurs from a blow or jolt to the head. This injury varies in severity, ranging from mild, where a patient is briefly unconscious or mentally unstable, to severe, where a patient is unconscious for a longer period of time or develops amnesia. Since some of these injuries do not penetrate the skull, they are not always diagnosed right away.

TBI is often associated with severe multiple trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder or undiagnosed concussions. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be subtle and may not appear right after the injury. Symptoms include persistent headaches and neck pain, difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions, slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading, finding oneself easily lost or confused, mood swings, changes in sleep patterns, light-headedness, loss of balance, nausea and changes in senses.

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