Veterans

The military culture can create social barriers to care-seeking behavior for veterans. They have disproportionate rates of mental illness, particularly posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse disorders, depression, anxiety, and military sexual trauma. Veterans are at risk of family instability, elevated rates of homelessness, and joblessness. Military disability benefits are designed to fill the gaps in loss of earning potential and quality of life that result from injuries sustained in military service, but according to the VA more than 70% of all claims are in backlog status so veterans may go for long stretches of time without significant income.

The U.S. Veteran’s Administration healthcare system is available to veterans that have served at least 24 continuous months, or the full period for which they were called to active duty. However, the VA has eight eligibility priority tiers to prioritize care due to limited budgets and capacity. Veterans in lower priority tiers, or those without the classification of “honorable discharge” who are ineligible for VA health benefits, have the most difficulty accessing care. Access to care in the VA system is also limited by long waitlists and shortages of VA providers. Mental health care is particularly difficult to obtain according to the Pentagon’s Task Force on Mental Health.

The Veteran’s Choice Program was created to address barriers to care with the VA system. It allows the VA to contract for health care services with private providers, reimbursing them for the veteran patients they see. Providers and patients must first enroll in the program, which targets vets who live at least 40 miles from their closest VA medical facility, have been told they must wait 30 days or more for an appointment, or face an excessive travel burden due to geographic, environment or medical challenges.

Veterans Resources

Supportive Services for Veteran Families This VA Program provides supportive services to very low-income Veteran families that are currently in or transitioning to permanent housing.
Veteran’s Administration database of wait times at VA health care facilities
Veteran’s Administration scores on patient experience accessing care
Veteran’s Choice Program for Providers
How to Become a VA Choice Provider
Veteran Health Administration Sites in Florida
Florida Veteran Population by County
Contracting with the Veteran’s Administration: A Primer for FQHCs, FACHC webinar handouts, November 2017 
NACHC Veteran Resources
Health Care for Rural Veterans: The Example of Federally Qualified Health Centers Congressional Research Service, December 2013
Veteran’s Administration Provider Toolkit
Special populations data

  

For more information, contact Erin Sologaistoa at Erin@fachc.org