An Iraq war veteran was turned away from a VA clinic after trying to schedule an appointment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While standing in line at the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Oakwood, Ga., Chris Dorsey turned on his smartphone camera, USA Today reported. When it was his turn, he told the VA employee he needed a transfer from the Athens, Ga., clinic and an appointment. “We’re not accepting any new patients — not this clinic,” the employee told him–without going into any specifics as to why he could not give Dorsey an appointment.
Dorsey told USA Today he decided to take out the phone in fear he might be rejected, just like he was at a VA clinic in Lawrenceville, Ga. “I told my family about this stuff happening and they’ve said, ‘You are crazy, no one would do that.’ Well, the video explains it,” said Dorsey, a former Army cavalry scout from 2001 to 2005 who spent most of 2003 in Iraq. USA Today explains the veteran’s predicament:
A few years ago, the VA paid for him to see a civilian psychologist for his service-related post-traumatic stress — therapy he described as ‘extremely helpful.’
He is seeking treatment again for what he says are worsening symptoms. But it seems unlikely he’ll get that care close to home. His only remaining VA option is the medical center in Atlanta, Ga., more than 50 miles from his home.
The VA last year introduced a program — VA Choice — that would allow Dorsey to see a civilian therapist, but until he spoke with a fellow veteran at a nearby veterans’ outreach group about his recent experiences at the two clinics, he’d never heard of VA Choice.
“It’s devastating for me to go in to two places and say I’m here to get help and they are essentially saying ‘I’m not going to help you,’” Dorsey said.
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A VA spokesman condemned the employee’s actions. “VA staff should have established a full understanding of Mr. Dorsey’s medical situation and determined if an appointment was available for him at another location or if he was eligible for the Choice Program and could be seen outside of VA,” said VA spokesman James Hutton. “The message Mr. Dorsey was given, as seen on the video, is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
At VA, we know that we must improve our service to veterans and that is precisely why Secretary [Bob] McDonald began MyVA, a reorganization of the department with the singular goal of placing the veteran at the center of everything we do.
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