I recently enrolled in the Veterans Administration system to be added to the Agent Orange Registry in case of diseases presumed to be caused by use of the Agent Orange defoliant during the Vietnam War. (Note: If your military duties placed you on the ground in Vietnam or operating on its inland waterways between 1962 and 1975, your exposure is presumed. Exposure is also presumed for some locations in Thailand and the Korean DMZ. Certain US Navy and Coast Guard ships which ported in Vietnam are also included.)
Here is what I experienced at the VA Clinic at Market Common:
As part of the registry process, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I also had been entered into the VA medical system and was eligible for a full VA physical and lab work-up.
The physical itself was thorough. Both the attending nurse and the physicians assistant I saw were both knowledgeable, professional, and took time to fully explain my health picture as well as how to get medications, eye ware, and future care, if needed and I wanted to use the VA system. I was encouraged to have an annual physical again next year. The PA also scheduled me to see a psychiatrist to evaluate combat related stress issues.
Timelines were totally acceptable from my perspective. In less than a month from my call to set a time for initial registration in the system I was at the Myrtle Beach Clinic with personal identification documents and my record of military service (DD214). At that time, my lab appointment was scheduled for the following month as well as my physical exam. During my physical, my mental health evaluation was set for two weeks later. At all the appointments, my waiting time was 20-30 minutes.
I should also mention the Veterans Administration Resource Center at Grissom Parkway and 21st Avenue. Their mission is to advise and assist all war veterans on how to access the resources and benefits available to them for service to nation and to provide readjustment services. This includes group and individual counseling to assist vets with managing personal issues related to their wartime service.
From my perspective, our VA facilities are working hard and doing a very good job overall in caring for our veterans. Yes, administration and management at the hospital level and higher needs much improvement. However, the concept of the VA is sound and could never be replicated by a commercial enterprise.
We all should be grateful that here in Horry County our vets have access to one of the 820 community VA clinics and one of the 300 vet centers across our country.
If you are a vet who wants to determine medical eligibility or is seeking help in readjusting from war, please begin at www.va.gov andwww.vetcenter.va.gov
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.