By Paul J. Gately
Published: May. 6, 2017 at 7:09 PM CDT
Waco’s Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Monday will surpass 85 years of service to U.S. veterans from World War I through today and is a model for health care worldwide.
The event will pass without fanfare.
The Waco facility, which provides health care to veterans with special types of injuries, has survived at least one serious attempt to shut it down, the latest based upon a recommendation back in 2003.
Today the campus has slimmed down from its original 508 acres to just more than 125 and from a capacity of 2,040 inpatients in 1945 to fewer than 1,000.
One month before the end of the Civil War, March 3, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln authorized the first-ever national soldiers’ and sailors’ asylum, the first in the world to provide medical and convalescent care for discharged members of the Union Army and Navy volunteer forces.
May 8, 1932 saw a veteran’s hospital open in Waco after local citizens, doctors and politicians convinced the federal government to choose the city to build the state’s only veterans facility dedicated to treating mental illness brought on by the horrors of war.
The first patient arrived two days later.
“The good medical climate in Waco was instrumental in obtaining the Veterans Administration Hospital in 1932,” a statement on McLennan County’s Medical Society webpage says.
Brig. Gen. William G. 'Bunker' Haan, who had commanded Waco’s Camp Macarthur, where World War I soldiers trained, urged his superiors to choose Waco as a location for a veteran’s hospital because he found the city warm, hospitable and a good place for the government to do business.
Construction began in April, 1931 on the first phase of the project contracted by Henry B. Ryan Construction Company of Chicago, Ill, Deborah Meyer, public information officer for the VA said.
The entire facility was designed by Veterans Administration architects.
The architectural style is a mixture of Colonial Revival and Mission/Spanish Revival.
Waco VA Medical Center was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 for its architecture and engineering as well as its significance in politics and government and health and medicine.
The hospital had its own fire brigade and on top of Building 1, the main building, there is a lookout spot where sky watchers used to go during bad weather to warm of oncoming storms.
“It’s changed a lot,” said Doug Young, retired administrator, who came to Waco VA in August 1978 as a social worker and retired June 2016.
He graduated from Columbia University.
“I always wanted to work with people who had serious mental illness,” he said.
The traditional, original red brick buildings have red clay tile roofs, feature dressed stonework and inside there are ornate light fixtures in a Mediterranean Revival style.
When it opened the hospital was a good distance south of town, but eventually Beverly Hills grew up around the grounds.
Opening day was such an event that the Katy railroad built a rail spur out to campus so dignitaries could travel to the ceremony in style.
The Owens-Illinois Glass Company set up shop right across the street in 1938 and has made glass bottles there since.
Originally the campus was somewhat self-supporting because it included a farm of 262 cultivated acres where patients grew vegetables, fruits, hay, and grain crops.
There also were 126 swine and 63 sheep that were bred, managed, fed out and slaughtered on campus, from which the pork alone produced more than 1,000 pounds of meat per week for subsistence.
The farm also included rabbits, pigeons, turkeys, geese, pheasant and quail.
“The farm hands were so particular about their animals that when it rained, they’d go out and sleep in the barn just to make sure they were okay,” Young said.
The fresh produce and meat was processed on campus, an ice house at the hospital kept food fresh and could produce up to 2,500 pounds of ice cream every day.
The farm operation was shut down in 1976, Young said.
That portion of land now is occupied by the Waco school district’s football stadium and a municipal golf course.
The medical facility was expanded in 1939 to 1,151 beds from the original 308, and again after World War II to 2,040.
Waco VA was among the first veteran’s hospitals to have an approved residency program and it was the only veteran’s hospital in the state to be dedicated to treatment of mental illness.
Aspiring neuropsychiatry and clinical psychology students and psychiatric nursing students studied and worked there during their professional training.
The 1970s saw a down-size after VA facilities in other Texas cities took some of the load off.
The facility cut back to 1,184 beds but upgraded and expanded in other places like the laundry that actually served three VA facilities, built a new warehouse and dietetics building and remodeled other buildings.
By 1990 there were 684 hospital beds in service, 160 nursing home beds and 340 hospital beds were out of service due to construction.
At that time the Waco facility had a day treatment center, a mental hygiene clinic, rehabilitation programs for alcoholics and the blind and a community residential care program.
The first post-traumatic stress disorder treatment center in Texas was housed at the Waco VA.
The Waco facility admitted its first woman veteran in 1975, which created some issues for the facility because there were buildings on campus that didn’t even have a women’s restroom.
But care for female veterans has come a long way since then, with the facility launching the Women’s Health Center at the Waco campus in August 2009.
Over the years patient therapy included work assignments in grounds maintenance, on the farm or processing plants, the laundry or the sewing, upholstery or cobbler shops.
The goal was to rehabilitate each patient to his highest level of functionality, which provided the best opportunity to prepare them to use life supporting skills.
Young told stories about patients he’d interacted with while he was still doing fulltime social work.
“Some of them were famous, highly decorated soldiers and some of them were just regular Joes,” Young said.
He recalled one WWI veteran who loved movies.
“I’d take him to rent movies on Fridays and he’d watch movies all weekend long,” Young said.
“Then I’d take the movies back to the store on Monday and we’d do it all again the next week,” Young said.
Another Doughboy, who’d lived at the Waco facility for years, recalled how he and his late wife rode around Central Park in New York on their wedding day in a handsome cab.
“So we went downtown to where they rented horse-drawn carriages, in Cameron Park, and made a deal with the driver to come out to the hospital and take (the veteran) on a carriage ride.
“Then we did it again every year on his anniversary,” Young said.
“Back when they had a river boat on Lake Brazos we took 86 veterans on a river boat ride,” Young said.
“A government study in 1999 reported to Congress that the VA was spending $1 million a day on buildings it did not need, and in 2003 a government commission recommended closing older, underused hospitals, including the one in Waco,” according to a story published in July 2005 in the Washington Post.
“For the past two years, Waco officials, residents and veterans groups have been fighting back, emphasizing the importance of the facility's specialized blind rehabilitation, psychiatric and post-traumatic stress disorder units; the large and aging veteran population (Texas has the third-largest population of veterans in the country with 1.7 million, a third of whom received VA health care last year); and, now, the wave of veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq who will need its services,” the story said.
Then Congressman Chet Edwards, D-Waco, led the charge along with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, both of whom organized veteran’s groups, local leaders, medical professionals, patients and citizens who came together to convince the government to leave the Waco hospital in service.
“The City of Waco showed its heart in that fight,” Edwards said in a telephone interview Friday from his Washington, D.C.-area home.
“It was one of the finest examples of a community working together with their representatives to get something done, because if we hadn’t done that, those would be shuttered, old buildings today.”
Edwards said the bi-partisan nature of the effort was evident in that Hutchison signed on to the fight early.
“I reached out to Sen. Hutchinson and told her that this is one of those issues that the people of Waco will not forget.”
Edwards said during the fight, the Secretary of the Office of Veteran’s Affairs visited the Waco campus and “while he was there he went in to two random buildings.”
“Each (employee) he talked to had 24- or 25-years of service,” and that deeply impressed him.
The Waco hospital is “a crown jewel mental hospital,”
Edwards said, and helping save it was “one of the most gratifying events of my 28 years of public service.”
Today the Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Waco is one of two hospitals managed under the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System which also oversees a new 184,000 square foot free-standing VA Outpatient clinic in Austin; four community based outpatient clinics in Brownwood, Cedar Park, College Station and Palestine; LaGrange VA Outreach Center; one Temple Annex Clinic; two nursing homes in Temple and Waco; one domiciliary in Temple, a Blind Rehabilitation Unit in Waco and two patient, rehabilitation units for post-traumatic stress disorder and severely mentally ill life enhancement in Waco, according to data provided by the U.SA. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Doris Miller “is a psychiatric facility which provides inpatient psychiatric care, nursing home care to psycho geriatric patients, and includes a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Residential Treatment Program.
“Additionally, the Seriously Mentally Ill Life Empowerment Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program provides services to individuals with a severe mental illness using the recovery model and with a goal to improve the quality of life for veterans and promote independence.
“Waco’s psychiatric mission consists of 64 intermediate and acute psychiatric beds … 140 beds to provide long term care to "psycho-geriatric" patients, who are defined as those patients with a psychiatric disorder who are age 65 or older … a Blind Rehabilitation Unit that started in 1974 and currently has 15 inpatient beds.
“The program provides comprehensive rehabilitation services for legally blind veterans … and devices are issued to veterans to include mobility devices, low vision optical aids, communication equipment, and computers,” a VA document says.
The Center for Excellence, which opened just about a month ago, also was a part of the work in Congress by Both Edwards and Hutchinson.
“I have to give Sen Hutchinson credit,” Edwards said, because it was her who championed the idea from its infancy.
“Sen. Hutchinson pushed for the design of the Centers for Excellence and I pushed through funding for several of them around the country.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with patients,” Young said.
“They all served their country in combat and we owe them the finest care we can provide.”
Material presented in this account was gathered from personal interviews, from data provided by the U.S. Veterans Administration through websites, from the Texas State Historical Society web site, from the Public Information Office of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System and from Baylor University’s Department of Oral History and the Texas Collection.
(Archival photographs courtesy of the Texas Collection at Baylor University)
WACO, Texas (KWTX)--An organization as large as the Department of U.S. Veterans Affairs suffers inherent problems but there are groups that dedicate their efforts to guiding veterans through the medical process.
Central Texas is home to the Veterans One Stop and other groups that welcome veterans who are beginning their association with the sprawling health care system and the director of the Waco office says she's seeing improvement.
"I'm very hopeful and positive with what I see here," DeLisa Russell, Waco Veterans One Stop director, said.
The One Stop, located at 2012 LaSalle Avenue, has dozens of specialists and volunteers who can guide a veteran through the application process and help make sure that veteran takes advantage of all the services offered.
The big issue for Russell, a veteran not with standing, is that veteran's family.
"You can't effectively treat a veteran without caring for his family," Russell said.
Retired Waco VA Administrator Doug Young said the issue isn't the level of care veterans get, its access to that care that is the problem for many veterans.
The system has gotten so big it is unmanageable.
"The care veterans get is excellent, as good as it gets, but getting to that care can be an issue," Young said.
"The main thing is collaboration (among all the agencies that serve veterans) and that's a win-win for everyone and we're having much more success," Russell said.
A statement on the One Stop's web page reads: "The mission of the Heart of Texas Veterans One Stop is to provide veterans and their families a facility where a variety of fundamental services can be accessed at one location.
"The purpose of the Veterans One Stop Center is to provide assistance, camaraderie, education and information to our veterans as well as their dependents."
Services available include access to the Veterans Service Officers, benefit and claim assistance, veteran employment services, Peer 2 Peer support groups, family support groups, individual counseling, substance abuse screening, recreational activities, financial counseling and individual system advocacy.
All of these services are free of charge to veterans and their dependents.
Veterans may call the One Stop at (254) 297-7171.
Can the VA refuse to treat a veteran? ›
Under federal law, hospitals with emergency services are “obligated to provide medical screening examinations and stabilizing treatment to patients with emergency medical conditions,” regardless of their eligibility for care in other situations.What benefits does the VA offer veterans? ›
VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, Veteran Readiness and Employment, and burial. See our Veterans page for an overview of the benefits available to all Veterans.Does the VA charge veterans? ›
Can I get free VA health care as a Veteran? You can get free VA health care for any illness or injury that we determine is related to your military service (called “service connected”). We also provide certain other services for free.What Veterans Affairs cover? ›
We cover other services and needs, like:
Mental health services to treat certain issues like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), depression, and substance use problems. Assisted living and home health care (depending on your needs and income as well as space in the programs).
The reasons clinicians may be removed from practice range from quality-of-care concerns such as deficiencies in clinical performance or patient abuse, the GAO noted. Since the VA began tracking community care providers, it has barred 136 clinicians from participating in the program.What VA conditions are permanent? ›
VA Classifies Your Disability as Permanent and Total
Permanent and total disability is a special classification used by VA when it believes that a veteran's condition is so severe that the condition will never improve.
Since 1957, if you had military service earnings for active duty (including active duty for training), you may have extra Social Security wage credits added to your earnings record.Can a veteran receive both VA and Social Security benefits? ›
SSDI and VA disability compensations are not affected by each other, so you may be eligible to receive both. However, you must apply for them separately. It may be possible to also qualify for SSI, depending on income and resources.How do veterans get free money? ›
- Operation Family Fund. ...
- Coalition to Salute America's Heroes. ...
- The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) ...
- The National Association of American Veterans, Inc. ...
- USACares. ...
- Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) ...
- Operation First Response. ...
- Semper Fi & America's Fund.
Totally disabled Veterans are eligible for free coverage and have the opportunity to purchase additional life insurance. Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI) provides mortgage life insurance protection to disabled Veterans who have been approved for a VA Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant.
What are the 4 types of veterans? ›
Under VEVRAA, a veteran may be classified as a ''disabled veteran,'' ''recently separated veteran,'' ''active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran,'' or ''Armed Forces service medal veteran. ''Do veterans have to pay copays? ›
You'll pay a copay for:
Medications your health care provider prescribes to treat non-service-connected conditions, and. Over-the-counter medications (like aspirin, cough syrup, or vitamins) that you get from a VA pharmacy. You may want to consider buying your over-the-counter medications on your own.
VA's 10-year rule states that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs cannot terminate service connection for a disability that has been in place for at least 10 years unless there was evidence of fraud at the time of the grant.How long do you have to be in the military to be considered a Veteran? ›
A minimum service requirement exists. Service members must have served a minimum of 24 months of active duty to be considered a veteran. If the service member becomes disabled because of their time in the service, there is no minimum length of service to qualify for VA benefits.What benefits do veterans get with 100% disability? ›
100% disabled veterans receive completely free VA care, with services including but not limited to, emergency care, preventative care, primary care, specialty care, mental health services, home health care, dental and vision care, geriatrics and extended care, medical equipment, prosthetics, nursing home placement, ...What do veterans suffer from the most? ›
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 3 in 1980, driven in part by sociopolitical aftereffects of the Vietnam War. ...
- Depression. ...
- Suicide. ...
- Substance Use Disorders.
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VA disability is usually not for life. When you start collecting benefits, it's with the understanding that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can and will periodically review your situation and reassess whether you should continue receiving benefits, and at the same level.At what age does VA disability stop? ›
Your VA benefits will last for your whole life. Even if your disability is classified as less than total and not permanent, if you've been collecting benefits for 20 years or more, the amount of your benefit won't go down.What is the 5 year VA rule? ›
The VA disability 5 year rule allows the VA to ex-examine your VA disability rating within 5 years of your initial examination if your condition is expected to improve over time. However, the VA may still change your disability rating past the 5-year deadline if your condition has significantly improved.
Is PTSD a permanent disability? ›
Yes, PTSD is considered a permanent VA disability. The Department of Veteran Affairs recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder as a serious, life-altering mental condition and will award disability benefits to qualified veterans suffering from PTSD.What is the $16728 Social Security bonus? ›
You can get a bonus of up to $16,728 per year so that your Social Security payment check increases every month.How much does Social Security pay veterans? ›
The average monthly Social Security benefit for veterans is $1,008 compared with $892 for male nonveterans (see Table 3). Among persons aged 62–74, monthly Social Security benefits average $1,028 for veterans and $957 for male nonveterans.How much SSI Do veterans get? ›
In 2022 payments for a veteran with no spouse or children can range from $152.64 per month for a 10 percent disability to $3,332.06 for a 100 percent disability. There is an important exception to the VA's usual method of using your disability rating to determine benefits.Do veterans get free tolls in Texas? ›
State law allows a Texas toll road entity to offer discounted or free tolls to Congressional Medal of Honor, Legion of Valor and Purple Heart recipients, as well as disabled veterans who qualify and meet the requirements for specialty license plates.Do I need a Medicare supplement if I have VA benefits? ›
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) and VA Benefits
Medicare Part B can provide you with medical coverage and services outside of the VA health system. Therefore, it is recommended that you enroll in Medicare Part B in addition to your VA benefits.
Even after veterans reach full retirement age, VA's disability payments continue at the same level. By contrast, the income that people receive after they retire (from Social Security or private pensions) usually is less than their earnings from wages and salary before retirement.Are Veterans getting a stimulus? ›
Many of these payments will go directly to Veterans and their beneficiaries. How are payments determined? The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the IRS worked together quickly to ensure that Veterans and their beneficiaries would receive their stimulus checks without additional paperwork or IRS filings.Do Veterans get more stimulus? ›
Any veteran who received VA benefits in 2020 and their dependents are eligible for a third stimulus check. Normally no action is needed for these recipients to get their Economic Impact Payment, except in the case they added a new dependent that they are able to claim.Can I cash out my VA disability? ›
You can apply for a VA cash out surrender or loan by completing and mailing the Application for Cash Surrender Value or Policy Loan (Form 29-1526) to the Department of Veterans Affairs. You'll need your policy number(s), contact information, and banking information if you want to receive payment via direct deposit.
Do I get my husband's VA benefits if he dies? ›
A VA Survivors Pension offers monthly payments to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits set by Congress. Find out if you qualify and how to apply.When a husband dies does the wife get his VA disability? ›
You will qualify as a surviving spouse for the purposes of VA DIC benefits if you were: Married for at least one year. Married for any amount of time if your spouse died while on active duty. Technically unmarried, but shared a child with the deceased veteran and were cohabitating at the time of their passing.Are all veterans eligible for TRICARE for life? ›
TRICARE does not cover every veteran: While retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, and their families are typically eligible for TRICARE health insurance, other separated service personnel are generally not. Veterans who don't qualify for TRICARE are typically eligible for medical services through the VA health system.Which VA serves the most veterans? ›
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|Hospital Name||Biloxi VA Medical Center|
|IDN||VA South Central VA Health Care Network (VISN 16)|
- List of the Top 50 VA Disability Claims:
- What are Some Common VA Disability Claims?
- #1. Tinnitus.
- #2. Hearing Loss.
- #3. Limitation of Flexion, Knee.
- #4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- #5. Lumbosacral or Cervical Strain.
- #6. Scars, General.
What Is a Non-Protected Veteran? You are not considered a protected Veteran if you did NOT serve active duty in the U.S. military OR if you received a dishonorable discharge from the military.Are VA benefits better than Medicare? ›
The prescription drug benefits from the VA are considered to be as good as or better than Medicare Part D, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services calls “creditable coverage,” so you won't have to pay a penalty if you decide to sign up for Part D later.Does Walgreens fill VA prescriptions? ›
Prior to the arrangement, VA providers would ask patients to inform them about medications filled at Walgreens. With the VA-Walgreens exchange, VA providers can now easily view medications directly that are prescribed to VA-enrolled patients by community providers and filled at Walgreens pharmacies.Do veterans have to pay mortgage insurance? ›
The VA funding fee is a one-time payment that the Veteran, service member, or survivor pays on a VA-backed or VA direct home loan. This fee helps to lower the cost of the loan for U.S. taxpayers since the VA home loan program doesn't require down payments or monthly mortgage insurance.How many times can you use your VA entitlement? ›
There is no maximum or limit on how many times you can use a VA loan. You can use a VA loan once, twice, three times or seven. As long as you have remaining entitlement, you typically always have the option to obtain another VA loan. Veterans United has even worked with a handful of Veterans on their 9th VA loan.
How many VA loans can you have in a lifetime? ›
The Bottom Line: No Limits On VA Loan Use, But Understand Your Entitlement. The most important takeaway is that, as long as you're eligible and you're able to qualify with a lender, there's no limit to how many times you can take out a VA loan in your lifetime.Can VA take away permanent and total? ›
Can the VA reduce a Permanent and Total rating? No, the VA cannot reduce a Permanent and Total VA rating unless the original disability rating was based on fraud. The major benefit of being deemed both “Permanent and Total” or 100% P&T is that your VA rating is protected from a future rating reduction.What's the difference between a veteran and a protected veteran? ›
The Protected veteran is a status created with an amendment to the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). This status prohibits discrimination against anyone that identifies as a protected veteran. These veterans receive Affirmative Action-type safeguards from some employers that hire vets.What benefits do veterans get after 4 years of service? ›
- Disability compensation. ...
- Support for Veteran-owned small businesses. ...
- Veterans Pension program. ...
- Aid and attendance or housebound allowance. ...
- Disability housing grants. ...
- More life insurance options. ...
- Pre-need eligibility determination for burial in a VA national cemetery.
Under US law, a veteran is defined as a "person who served in the active military, naval, air, or space service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.” With this definition, those who are actively serving in the military do not fall under the category of a veteran.Can 100 disabled veterans fly free? ›
Space-A Travel for 100% Disabled Veterans
Space Available travel is not administered by the VA. Rather, this is a program provided by the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command (AMC). This program allows active service members and their dependents to travel on military aircraft for free, subject to availability.
Spouses, unfortunately, cannot be paid to provide care, as their income is also considered when calculating a veteran's pension amount. However, other relatives, such as adult children, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren, can be paid to be caregivers.Do 100% disabled veterans have to pay Medicare premiums? ›
However, like other beneficiaries, veterans with VA benefits will need to pay a standard Medicare Part B premium for Medicare's outpatient coverage. You will want to enroll in Medicare Part B as soon as you are eligible. Delaying Medicare Part B coverage can result in a lifelong late penalty.Why Veterans do not use the VA? ›
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As a protected veteran under VEVRAA, you have the right to work in an environment free of discrimination. You cannot be denied employment, harassed, demoted, terminated, paid less or treated less favorably because of your veteran status.
What Veterans are not eligible for VA health care? ›
You must have been called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty. If you had or have active-duty status for training purposes only, you don't qualify for VA health care.What happens if I don't like my VA doctor? ›
If you don't agree with your VA provider or have concerns about your care, we're here to help: First, go to your VA health care team. If you still have concerns, ask to connect with your provider's supervisor or your VA medical center's chief of service.What are the 5 types of veterans? ›
Under VEVRAA, a veteran may be classified as a ''disabled veteran,'' ''recently separated veteran,'' ''active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran,'' or ''Armed Forces service medal veteran. ''Can Veterans lose their benefits? ›
VA disability compensation payments are reduced if a Veteran is convicted of a felony and imprisoned for more than 60 days. Veterans rated 20 percent or more are limited to the 10 percent disability rate. For a Veteran whose disability rating is 10 percent, the payment is reduced by one-half.What is the new law for Veterans? ›
The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. The PACT Act adds to the list of health conditions that we assume (or “presume”) are caused by exposure to these substances.What is the VA 5 year rule? ›
The VA disability 5 year rule allows the VA to ex-examine your VA disability rating within 5 years of your initial examination if your condition is expected to improve over time. However, the VA may still change your disability rating past the 5-year deadline if your condition has significantly improved.What disqualifies you from receiving VA benefits? ›
If you've received an other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge, you may not be eligible for VA benefits.Do all veterans get the same benefits? ›
All enrolled Veterans receive the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA's) comprehensive Medical Benefits Package which includes preventive, primary and specialty care, diagnostic, inpatient and outpatient care services.Can veterans use their own doctor? ›
The Veterans Choice Program allows you to get your VA related health care from civilian doctors in your community.Can the VA take away your 100%? ›
VA can reduce a total rating (i.e., 100% disability rating) only if there is material improvement in the veteran's condition.
Can veterans see doctors outside the VA? ›
VA provides health care for Veterans from providers in your local community outside of VA. Veterans may be eligible to receive care from a community provider when VA cannot provide the care needed.