On Monday, July 24, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin addressed an audience of VFW and Auxiliary members at the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) 118th National Convention in New Orleans.

In his remarks, Shulkin spoke on the five key priorities he has identified to transform VA. The first of those five priorities is to give Veterans greater choice.

“When I talk about greater choice, right now we have a system that I would call a rules-based system,” Shulkin said, highlighting how administrative rules, such as how far a Veteran lives from a VA, dictates whether that person can get care in their local community. “I believe we need a system that’s not based on rules, but is based on your clinical needs.”

Sec. Shulkin speaks to the VFW 118th National Convention.

Sec. Shulkin speaks to the VFW 118th National Convention.

“We want that clinical flexibility to be able to allow Veterans to be able to get the right care at the right place,” Shulkin told the VFW convention attendees.

The secretary’s comments echoed an editorial that appeared earlier on Monday. Shulkin wrote in USA Today that community care, or private capacity, and VA’s internal capacity are not mutually exclusive.

“We are ramping up both simultaneously in order to meet the health care needs of the Veterans we are charged with serving,” he wrote.

VA is embarking on the largest transformation and modernization effort in recent history. Secretary Shulkin recently established the VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection and announced that the VA will dispose of 430 vacant buildings in 24 months. In June, the President signed into law the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act and Secretary Shulkin announced that the VA will adopt a joint electronic health record system integrated across all Department of Defense and VA components.

VFW is a nonprofit Veterans service organization comprised of eligible Veterans and military service members from the active, guard and reserve forces. Today, membership stands at nearly 1.7 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary

Watch Secretary Shulkin’s remarks, including more on the top five VA priorities, here.

This player uses the Livestream platform.  If you are not able to access the player, you can also watch the video via VFW’s Facebook page.


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Published on Jul. 24, 2017

Estimated reading time is 1.9 min.

Views to date: 133


  1. Jer D'Wayan August 2, 2017 at 5:32 am

    How about the veterans who are stuck with living overseas because of circumstances beyond their control? Let’s just say I would be one of the vets roaming the streets if I had to come back to the States. My only funding source is from the VA and I have to prepay for my medical care and have to file a claim with the FMP (Foreign Medical Program) for a refund which automatically denies so that I have to refile and wait for another 2 months if my claim gets approved. The explanations required for my claims for medication which were the same ones that were prescribed by the VA doctors for my disabilities were not good enough even if they were prescribed by a local doctor.
    Please do something about us too. I know there are only a very few of us living overseas but we have served just as much as anybody who is living Stateside…
    And our votes still count on Absentee Ballots. :~)
    Thank you.

  2. Jer D'Wayan August 2, 2017 at 5:30 am

    How about the veterans who are stuck with living overseas because of circumstances beyond their control? Let’s just say I would be one of the vets roaming the streets if I had to come back to the States. My only funding source is from the VA and I have to prepay for my medical care and have to file a claim with the FMP (Foreign Medical Program) for a refund which automatically denies so that I have to refile and wait for another 2 months if my claim gets approved. The explanations required for my claims for medication which were the same ones that were prescribed by the VA doctors for my disabilities were not good enough even if they were prescribed by a local doctor.
    Please do something about us too. I know there are only a very few of us living overseas but we have served just as much as anybody who is living Stateside…
    Thank you.

  3. Mark J. Bernard August 1, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    F(redacted) this country !!!!!!!!!!

  4. Mark J. Bernard August 1, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    My name is Mark Bernard. I am one of thousands of Veterans that don’t been taken care of. So upset and so much hate in this country now. I am 60… I went though total hell in my life. Had so many surgeries as a soldier and an a(redacted)hole 1 star general gave me a Honorable Discharge a month before I was hurt. I ever ask for nothing…. but why this country f(redacted) me up so much !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks A lot !!!! Any time… text me or send me a message…
    Mark Bernard
    PS… I asked for help… just ate (redacted) by you damn (redacted) games !!!!!!!

  5. James Tobleck August 1, 2017 at 12:38 am

    One thigs for sure, not one beauracrate in Washington will read, investigate, make right any of our complaints, suggestions, no matter how severe. 22 vets a day give up and kill themselves. The patients are killing themselves and the govt. Doesn’t give a damn.How long do you think it would take if Congress, VA staff ,all had to use the near useless VA ? How long if VA staff got bonuses, promotions for actual treated vets instead of for not treating. Seems to me the wrong people are dieing.

  6. Terry c Apel July 31, 2017 at 12:25 am

    I and my wife both served during the Vietnam war. We were given honorable discharges. I signed up for medical benefits several years ago but did not ever use them. I had employee insurance for both of us. When I retired at 65 the employee insurance ended. My wife signed up for her VA benefits but was declined because between the 2 of us we make over 42,500 a year. She is being penalized because we worked hard all our lives and had good jobs. So her service means nothing. A great way to treat someone who served and did not have to but loved her country and did her part to preserve our freedom.

  7. Ricky July 30, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    When are you going to restore the health care with the Mayo Clinic which is closer and a much better care for those who have Kidney Cancer and was a Patient with them for 3yrs. The Doctors know our case history and now I have to start all over again and dealing with all the Doctors who don’t know anything about the patient or contact after test or MRI’s that are done or tell the results of test.

  8. J. Holman July 30, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Ok, you are putting a lot of lip service out there, but, until it arrives at each individual veteran it’s just that, lip service.
    Not all veterans served in declared war zones, and the cover up over agent Orange left a lot of veteran families in bad shape, yet us children still thought there was honour in serving until we were discharged with ” You served in peacetime, to bad, no benefits for you as your disability was preventable”.

  9. William Trick July 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Why is the 3%of the population have to worry about health care ,We are the ones that joined the military service or was drafted to protect the 97% of the population??? Think about how you sat and are loving life ,how we were in a foreign land protecting you…

  10. Ronald Hobbs Sr July 30, 2017 at 10:47 am

    I am a Veteran and I had a very bad Dental problem. I couldn’t get help from the VA because I didn’t have a service connected disability, I had to use my rent money to pay for dental services that the VA could have easily help me with. Why can’t we as Veterans receive help from all the departments of the VA? My situation could have easily been a health problem.

  11. Veteran NCO July 29, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    I agree with the veteran NOV we need a system that actually works here in new mexico as well. The VA needs to take care of us veterans. They should do there job. Just like us NCO’s take care of us like we take care of our troops in battle and in the leadership we instill.

  12. Arthur Fortson July 29, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Who or What are we calling Veterans;The ones that are Viet Nam Combat,Viet Nam ERA,Gulf War Combat,Gulf War ERA.Why is only one type can get benefit and the other cannot because he or she is not combat injury,such as diabetes etc.What about case laws on benefits?God Bless all that was in combat and injuried and they are my brothers and sisters.I have amputations and I feel for all.

  13. Patrick L Bowen July 29, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    This 40 mile rule to use the choice program is a bunch of crap. I live 25 miles from a VA Clinic. However I have to have surgery to repair a hernia in a hospital to stay overnight due to heart problems, The nearest VA Hospital is 110 miles away from my home. I was told I could not use the choice program because I live less than 40 miles from the clinic even though they can’t do the procedure. Does that make sense or is it just me. The patient advocate told me that almost everyone in the US lives within 40 miles of a clinic and mileage is hardly ever used to approve the Choice program. This is not fair,

  14. Rick Anderson July 29, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I have one comment for all you negative, whining, complaining veterans. Just go ahead and keep it up. The end result of your constant bitching will be the politicians’ dream-come-true: Elimination of the VA health care system and referral of all veterans to civilian community healthcare providers. If you think the VA is bad, just wait until you have to compete for care in the civilian world. You will be placed in the least important category of patients, along with the Medicaid and Medicare patients. You will wait unbelievable amounts of time for precious few appointments with a primary care doctor, just to be referred to an equally inaccessible specialist. You will also probably have to pay deductibles and co-pays up front and then fight the federal system to be reimbursed for part or all of those expenses.
    Caveat emptor

    • Jon L Kelsey August 1, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      You apparently have never been sick enough or hurting enough to do whatever it takes to get some relief. It sounds like you are doing all the whining. How about mind your own business. Were you ever in the service? Doesn’t sound like it. Are you a Trump family member? Sounds like it. And yes, we veterans will keep it up until someone who cares listens to us. Apparently you don’t.

  15. DorisJellison July 29, 2017 at 11:23 am

    My husband has been waiting 3 months for a referral to go to another facility because our local VA ones cannot help him It is ridiculous to have to wait that long for care. Everyday he is in a lot of pain and is suffering for the last 10 years. They misdiagnosed it for 8 years and just kept giving him pills. He doesn’t want medication, he wants to be treated so there is less pain or no more pain. Hasn’t happened yet. He goes 2 to 3 times per week to East Orange and Lyons in NJ. All they keep doing is making him go to pain classes and wanting to give him something for depression. Not what he needs! We need to be able to get a hold of this Dr. Shulkin

  16. Kathleen Hirschlein July 29, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Having dealt with the VA System as a Caregiver and trying to get care from the Choice Program, I can personally say it’s a mess. There are numerous Specialists that refuse to take patients using Choice because the VA is so behind on paying them. My daughter has been told, “Use your own insurance.”! What gives?

  17. Butch Lyles July 29, 2017 at 6:32 am

    The general public has no idea how the VCP really works. News media reports make it sound like we can just go to any doctor of our choice at any time and VA will pay for it. They never mention the rules, regulations, and stipulations we must overcome in order to utilize it. Nor do they ever mention that we have to call someone to get permission to use VCP.

    I got my VCP card when they first came out. At that time, I was told that I must call my VAMC to get permission. I responded to the nice lady on the phone that it was an absurd requirement. The very people who are lying about our appointments are the same people we have to call to get permission? No response.

    Fortunately I have not had to use VCP yet. But I am not looking forward to the day it might become necessary.

  18. Gregory Dean Wales July 28, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    I’m a veteran who is a hearing aid specialist of good standing since my honorable discharge from USAF in 1974. I am board certified in hearing instrument sciences, certified by Mn Dept of Health and past president of Minnesota Hearing Healthcare Providers, the local state chapter of International Hearing Society. I served by governor’s appointment on Minnesota Department of Health’s Hearing Instrument Dispenser Advisory Council. I have helped many veterans with there hearing aids but without compensation from the VA. The VA will not approve requests from the veterans to get served by me

  19. Joseph S. Clark July 28, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    I suffer from Parkinson’s Disease after serving in Thailand in 1968. My primary care doctor is okay for everything but Parkinson’s disease. He will be the first to acknowledge iit, so I have to see another doctor in the Boise VA Medcenter that s in the same boat. He is a neurologist, but he is not trained in Movement Disorder.

    If I want to see a doctor that is a Movement Disorder Specialist , I have to travel to Portland Oregon which is a 400 mile drive one way. I do get mileage reimbursement, and they will put me up in a hotel for 2 nights. There is a Movement Disorder Specialist here in Boise at the St, Als. Hospital, but in order for me to see him I have to pay a co-pay. I think I should be able to go see him instead of traveling 800 miles to see him because he is in my community without having to pay a co-pay..

  20. Jerrel Norris July 28, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Can Secretary Shulkin address the needs for health care for veterans living outside of the United states and if any support for these veterans?

  21. Jon L Kelsey July 28, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    The Choice Program is a joke. Trump bragged about every veteran being able to pick his/her doctor and hospital, but if you try to do it you will realize that is not true. If you live within 40 miles of a VA facility THAT HAS A FULL TIME DOCTOR the Choice Program doesn’t apply. In other words, it that clinic has a gynecologist and you need a cardiologist you are out of luck. I have to drive over 100 miles to see a specialist, something not practical and a financial burden. I’m sure Trump got a lot of votes, but did he read the bill? I voted for him once but never again. Fix the program and help the many veterans that are hurting because it doesn’t work.

  22. Gregory Dick July 28, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I am a aka amputee and cannot even get tranportation for my chemotherapy appt. Because the transportation company dropped the VA and they have not been able to find a replacement. Throwing all appts into chaos

  23. Fred A. Evans July 28, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Why do some get agent orange benefits when they were only in country one or two days, yet many like myself that spent a year or more getting sprayed almost daily, eventually ruining their health, cannot. I developed heart problems, had bladder cancer and a skin condition that nobody knows what it is or how to treat it. It isn’t right!!

  24. C.J. Atchley July 28, 2017 at 9:03 pm

    I have always had the best of care through the V.A. and the choice program.

  25. Don Zabinski July 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    If the va paid the doctors the same money they could make in private practice it would solve alot of problems.

  26. Terry Guilloz July 28, 2017 at 7:52 pm


  27. Dave Kinnett July 28, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    VA needs to improve. A veteran fights for a disability, only to keep fighting so the VA does not take it away. Title 38 needs to be updated. Lab tests need to be in line with the private sector. Some VA doctors do not even know of these newer lab tests and some have been around for over 5 years. You want a second opinion? Not at VA. Patient advocate, no help, because they have no power. People getting close to retirement are sent to patient advocate.

  28. VN vet July 28, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I have been in the VA system for nine years and overall have had good results with them. Try going to a regularDoctor clinic and there are problems with them too. All I know is the VA saved my life when I had agent orange lung cancer.

  29. John Downing July 28, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    These changes Dr. Shulkin has implemented and the ones he plans on implementing don’t seem to be for Veterans. The Choice program is nothing but a money pot for Health Net. The last billion in the bank for Choice disappeared. Twenty percent is a lot of money to just take. Why is everything so secret? Problem is; VA is still not holding SES’s accountable. Seems whistleblowers are not protected. VA doesn’t follow laws that are put there for Veterans. It’s worse today than a year ago. VSO’S do get paid, with bonuses. The VA is still hiding things and lying about many things. How is a pharmacy going to reach out to Veterans? Unless, now the VA is giving out My medical records to pharmacies now. The whole thing is very misleading.

  30. Nathan Thompson July 28, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    My name is SFC (ret) Nathan Thompson ,I was recently placed on the national registry for a liver transplant (service connected) I am having difficulty gathering my medical records to have my disability increased. I also had major reconstructive surgery on my shoulder and knee while on active duty. I later had extensive arthroscopic surgery on that same knee while on active duty. I later had extensive arthroscopic surgery on the same shoulder after being discharged.I also have hepatic encephalophaty because of the liver damage. All of this information is in my medical records.. I need help trying to gather all of this information to file my claim. Thank you.

  31. Dave Stamer July 28, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    My 91yr old father-in-law is a WW2 veteran. He has never asked the VA for anything, however now that my mother-in-law is in the stages of dementia he has applied for assistance, his advocate has been working with my brother-in-law, however the VA continues to ask for paperwork that has already been forwarded. It seems, and I’ve heard this before the VA is in awaiting game with its older veterans. While my father-in-law has been waiting for needed financial help he has since fallen and broken his hip. He has had surgery and is on the mend, hoping to be released home shortly. Our family has complied with everything that has been requested, it just seems the system just drags on with no help on the horizon.

    Myself, I’m a VFW member and veteran who hopes somewhere along the line the VA can get it together. I hear the words from the Administration about making changes, but it seem we are in a “Hurry up and wait mode.”

  32. LMR July 28, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Article is supposed to inform us of his/VA’s 5 Priorities, yet mentions one?

    Article supposedly has a link to a video that can’t be played on certain devices?

    Finally, some of the waste and abuse in costs, vacant properties, removing corrupt Directors and leadership, ceasing to ignore the fact that many, if not most veterans claims go on to appeals and generally take at least 5 years or more…

    Also, one selfish reason VA may be claiming to push Choice is so VA can claim, in the future, that they are not responsible for infections, and negligence by stating, “It could have happened from an “outside” provider”, thus not paying vets on their claims, and not accepting liability.

    Let’s now work on putting the hotline phones in ALL VA’s in conjunction with the new Whistleblower’s initiative and let’s start giving monetary rewards to veterans who expose gross mismanagement, and volunteer their time in “righting the wrongs”. The IRS does it, so should the VA.

    That being said, there are many, many fine practitioners, researchers, and VA staff, that, unfortunately get an unfair reputation due to the “bad apples” who commit illegal acts.

    Finally, VA Physicians and Nurses deserve Leadership that makes them proud, listens to their concerns, and quickly works to solve problems.

    Simply print ALL of the benefits a vet is entitled to in the annual Veterans Benefits Brochure, including no cost Hearing Aids, Glasses, “Help Me, I Fell Down and Can’t Get Up” alert devices, etc. and mailing out through the U.S. Postal Service AND via email to each veteran with a known address and to veteran service organizations, Salvation Army, Goodwill locations, etc.

    Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Administration, both White House and Veterans Administration, delivers on their promise and puts into place practical, cost effective, and deserving procedures that withstand the test of time, and encourage DIRECTLY Helping the Vet, not just numerous PR staff, Informing or “Reaching out” to vets, only to produce more brochures and pamphlets, and Administrative Costs.

  33. John Thomas July 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I was going to V A with Sciatica pain. After treatment I would get 15-20 miles away and be in pain. After several months I went to a civilian, and walked out pain free. Hmmm.

  34. Richard White July 28, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    I’m 100% disabled. Can’t even get a primary care doctor. Don’t know where to go or how to do it. I’ve written serval emails. No one responds.

  35. Phil Bateman July 28, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Be aware. When republicans use “providing more choices,” they’re always talking about privatization to let cronies make more money. I have used both private and VA health care. Private insurance doctors couldn’t find my cancer for two years. The VA doctors found it the first time they looked. Fix the VA, where it needs fixing but but be careful about promises without knowing the true cost to veterans. Con men have targeted the VA since it was formed.

  36. Louis July 28, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    operate the VA just like Medicare and private health providers.

  37. 9 injuries 10percent disability July 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    It’s nice and all to hear people get a choice but they don’t give you the option to pursue multiple locations to get seen as quickly as possible. Even with the choice program I have to wait between 1 and 3 months to get seen outside the VA. The whole point is for us to get seen and taken care of. People can’t wait months at a time for each appointment. I tried their online pain management option. Waited a month then the day of they realized they had no idea who I was and forced me to reschedule. I had so many problems with them I never even got seen. I called the VA and asked to be seen by another provider and the next option they gave me was another month and a half wait time. This wouldn’t feel so bad for most people but it’s taken me FOUR YEARS TO GET THE VA TO SEE ME AND I STILL DON’T GET MY VA BENEFITS.

  38. Stan Lightner July 28, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I have excellent care at the Owensboro KY, Evansville, IN VA clinics and the Marion ILL hospital. I too have used Veteran’s Choice and find TriWest to be a bureaucratic nightmare. In fact my civilian pulmonologist dropped me due to the actions of TriWest.

    I want a medical system for Vets only where it does not take weeks to schedule an appointment and quality care. Of course this is of no concern to 45’s administration as their only constituents are the top 1%.

    One should also note most of the problems started with the Bush/Cheney administration that cut and cut and cut VA medical care closing hospitals and clinics. Using vets as political pawns is one of the most disgusting ploys of the GOP.

  39. Mike James July 28, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    First lets try fulfillment of the promises made to all the Vietnam Veterans !!! This would be a good start… No one who has EVER honorably served this Country should have to fight for the benefits/promises made to us !!! I deon’t5 know how any Politician, appointed official can ever sleep at night, knowing that he has allowed this ABUSE/NEGLECT to continue !!! Mike

  40. John C. Davidson July 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Even down to our county veteran service centers in Ohio.the VA will not let those like me that got better care using Medicare get assistance.. I am told the VA only allows them to help local vets buy food and pay housing costs. I was shocked..

  41. ROBERT E FIELDING July 28, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    I have had SUPERIOR care, concern, attention and treatment from the VA since Dr. Graves in Apr 1997and Byrle Brunton in 2 002. Recently, there are so many than I can not name them or
    thank them all.
    I would like to name at least some:
    All of the caregivers at the Springfield, IL clinic.
    All of the caregivers at Danville
    All of the caregivers at Peoria
    Special thanks to:
    Janet Whitehead
    Kelly Belenger Sahr
    Extra thank you to:
    Donette Gray, a wonderful, caring guardian angle.
    I have sent letters like this to the Sec of VA but, received
    no notice of receipt. Would you please forward this message
    to your Sec of VA ?
    My Thanks to all of your caregivers but, especially to the ILLINOIA
    Bob Fielding
    E5/O5 USAF/RET

  42. James Tobleck July 28, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    I never had a chance fighting the VA for the benefits I was promised. The greedy bums that run B.C. VA have only looked after themselves. When non doctors over rule trained doctors putting vets at risk. 2 separate anasthes instead of one to find bleeding AFTER 3 year delays by them. Narcotic pain pills instead of surgery. Decades of appeals, lost , shredded forms, x rays, never action FOR the VET. Just look at my pictures, news paper articals. I’ve come to the end of the frustrating life dealing with a uncaring VA . I wish them all to hell.

  43. James Tobleck July 28, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    41 years and after 40 VA finally wants me to go to John Dingell VA Hospital where 41 years ago a drunk ,sleeping doctor that peed his pants branded me a 5 % after I woke him! I’ve wrote IG, congressmen,Senate, presidents, nothing changes except the name of the pain pills. VA personal using me for their bonuses,promotions. Thousands of pages of appeals, ect. Constant overruling of civilian doctors, now 2 of their own doctors. I’m owed well over a million in back pay, yet not one Washington, beauracrate would dig and find out the scope of the betrayals at Battle Creek VA . 41 years on a butchered knee, bone on bone.

  44. Nellie Hampton July 28, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    I called the VA clinic in Tyler tx and she had no knowledge of the chose program, my husband has had 2 hip surgeries and degenitive arthritis and there is no spine and joint doctor at the VA in Tyler tx, so he, he goes to Texas spine and joint in Tyler tx and he live his doctor, I was trying to get it authorized by VA and no one knows anything, please help!!!

  45. William Mahocker July 28, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    We want Veterans to get the right care at the right place. Then why is the grant funding for an organization that provides transitional housing for up to 40 homeless military veterans being denied, forcing them to curtail its services or possibly close its doors.?

  46. George Avila July 28, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Why can’t I get ED medicine ?
    I don’t have a medical problem and my Primary Doctor will not RX because it’s not his job ????? ?

  47. Veteran NCO July 28, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    He is right about this one. We do need a choice. VA still needs a lot of reform but this is a good start.

    • james smith July 30, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      if you think the VFW is bad, try the DAV

  48. old marine July 28, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    “I believe we need a system that’s not based on rules…What planet is he on, The VA doesn’t go by any rules they have now.
    And speaking of patient advocates BRYON they should rename it to hospital administrator advocate…
    And then you have those funny hat wearing guys saying they speak for veterans, they speak for their WALLETS not us…
    1.7 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary, I kind of doubt it, show me proof

  49. too bad July 28, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Why keep pushing pills and NOT CURES?

  50. Donna Lenz July 28, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Great questions!

    Our Patient Advocate is awesome, and does everything she can to help – but she can only do so much. She is a true advocate for Veterans, and she understands the challenges.

    Escalating problems with VA Care is something I have been dealing with for ages – I understand what you are saying..

    Hoping things continue to change for the better – especially with flexibility with care.

  51. Raymond E Vogel July 28, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    I have used Nashville and Murfreesboro VA medical facilities and they are both VERY GOOD! HOW EVER Myou primary care doctor is @ The VA Cookeville Clinic, I have been assigned to FOUR different ones this year (have seen two). How is this good care, there is no continuity.
    Is there a way I can use a primary care doctor from FREE CHOICE?

    • Robert McClung July 28, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      I have had the same experience as Raymond. I also go to Murfeesboro and Nashville and am very happy with both. I also goto Cookeville and have seen 5 different doctors in 3 years.

    • Charlene Scott July 28, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      I agree, in the 60’s when you enlisted they contracted with all veterans, free health care, education, and the ability to own a home was guaranteed if and when you came home. Now they are threatening our choice program not only are they threatening our choice program but are disability benefits and Social Security. When they begin to Target veterans you have to think when your sons and daughters go to war what’s going to be there when they get out a big lie.

  52. Shelby Flores July 28, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    That’s all fine and dandy but nobody seems to be too concerned that disability benefits are on the chopping block. Our benefits are going to be sacrificed and nobody’s watching. Can’t take benefits from veterans to pay other veterans. This whole choice program is going to be private doctors fleecing the gov. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is ludicrous when dealing with people’s lives at stake. If the choice program works, that’s great but not at the expense of other veterans. We’ve all earned these benefits, literally mind, body and soul, but to take away from one to pay for the other is unacceptable.

    • Emme Barra July 30, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      We found out already through the VA that if you are already recieving your disability it will not be taken away from you at all.All new claims will probably be less and are under new cuts, which I still don’t think is right.

  53. John Rock July 28, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I have always thought that having 2 separate health care systems in this Country was a waste of money. One would always be better than the other. I think Secretary Shulkin’s position, if I understand him right, is the beginning of veterans enjoying the best of both systems.

  54. Ramon Davila July 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    That is correct they did my denture three times and still its not right so I gave up I be going to a regular dentist and try to see if I could get my denture to fit proper.

    • gary bakka July 28, 2017 at 11:51 pm

      Shulkins lies like a rug and speaks with forked toung

  55. Bryon deaven July 28, 2017 at 10:11 am

    I have several questions for secretary shulkin…
    1. Have you ever used the va health care system for your care? Because if you had, you would see how broken it is.

    2. Do you know how difficult it is to get DME through va prosthetics?

    3. Why do patient advocates have no authority to do their jobs? So they can BE AN ADVOCATE FOR VETERANS!

    4. Why is it so difficult to escalate problems with veterans care through the system?

    5. Why is it, if he represents the va, whose purpose is to serve veterans, he is so inaccessible to veterans? There currently is no way to contact him via us mail, email or phone. Sometimes the head honcho needs to see what is actually going on in the trenches. Or is he isolated and insulated on purpose?

    • Grant Fisk July 28, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      There is a bad side to this though. I had a claim appointment. The VA couldn’t get me in for two months, so they forced me to drive to a civilian Doctor in Stockton for one issue and to another civilian in Concord for the other. What really sucked is the second appointment was for my shoulder, and they sent me to a frigging WEIGHT LOSS CLINIC in Concord for it. I was examined by, what I thought was an MD, but she was only a CNA. After the examination, I had to wait in the damned waiting room for one and a half hours, so the CNA’s results could be evaluated by an actual MD. I say forced because when I asked to wait the two months so I could be seen by a VA MD, the VA said that my claim would be denied if I didn’t go to these civilian MDs (?) So, it’s not always a good thing.

    • Joseph Harty August 5, 2017 at 1:07 am

      As a 71 ear old veteran my concern is the privation of the VA. These other issues that keep pooping up are created by the retire officers and civilian bureaucrats in charge of veteran benefits. Replace these worthless, corporate agenda folks and hire only real enlisted veterans with good pay and benefits to operate this system. [leave out CEO/directors/bureau chiefs] Fact is the same group pushing for this privation allowed the pharmaceuticals to blow-up drug costs, deliberately to make ObamaCare fail, just because their racist! Who are still trying to take it away from 30 million folks already on it! And don’t forget the folks who because of existing conditions could not get insurance! Then theirs the elderly medical costs arbitrary limits, which when they run out there forced to sell their homes to stay alive! Do not allow these sob near our VA, unless an armed guard is with them, as they have no business being near honorable americans. As there only aim is to screw veterans, like their trying to do to the elders on SSI and MediCal. These parasites think nothing of cutting care to make more money, think twice about even letting them in, this choice is a ruse to take our benefits, nothing else. Veterans need to unify and totally deny any access, from this administration of Russian lovin colluding corporate trolls:) Get them out of here!!!

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