VA’s Office of Community Care (OCC) aims to place the choice of provider in the hands of eligible Veterans and assist them in finding the best options for their care.

On this episode of Borne the Battle, Dr. Elizabeth Brill, chief medical officer at OCC, breaks down the process of determining eligibility, making appointments and receiving care through community care.

Types of care available under Community Care include:

  • General care
  • Urgent care
  • Emergency care
  • Foreign medical care
  • Home, health and hospice care
  • Indian Health Services
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
  • State Veterans Homes
  • Flu shots


Eligibility depends on the individual Veteran’s needs and circumstances. For example, travel distance from a VHA facility is now calculated by drive time, not mileage, and Veterans living over 30 minutes from a VHA facility are eligible for community care.

The other eligibility categories include:

  • Needing a service that VA doesn’t provide.
  • Not having a full-service VA in the state or territory in which you live.
  • When VA cannot schedule appointments in a timely manner.
  • When available VA care isn’t meeting quality care standards.

It is also possible for Veterans to receive Community Care authorization at the recommendation of their VA doctor, even if they don’t meet any of the eligibility criteria.


Once Veterans are approved to receive care in their community, VA will make the necessary appointments or assist the Veteran in making the appointment.

Dr. Brill also provides instructions for providers to apply to become Community Care Network providers for VA. If a Veteran wants to be seen by a provider that isn’t in the Community Care Network, they can ask that provider to follow the instructions to care for Veterans under VA benefits instead of private insurance. Providers can also receive CCN provider status without a Veteran’s request to better serve the Veterans in their community by making themselves available under VA benefits.


Borne the Battle Veteran of the Week:

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By Jana Jenkins is a podcast intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. She is a recent graduate of the College of Saint Benedict with a bachelor’s degree in Communication.

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Published on Aug. 9, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 758


  1. Theresa Martin August 16, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    I was denied even though I’m more than 30 minutes away from the VA , and I was also not receiving quality care! The VA SUCK!!!!

  2. Robert F Ford August 13, 2021 at 6:22 pm

    When did they change the drive time to 30 minutes. I was told it was an hour about two weeks ago. Also getting any Doctors to be in the Community Care System is hard because they don’t want to deal with the red tape, late payments and all the other hurdles.

    I had finger surgery last week and have been waiting for Physical Therapy even though my finger operation Authorization included physical therapy. The PT office said THEY need an authorization before they will care for me. It has been 5 days and no word yet. I called the Comm Care office in Syracuse, NY and left all the info and requested a call back. None yet.

    Maybe they need to disband the VA and give disabled veterans a VA Care Card like any other insurance card so we can get proper care.

    • Theresa Martin August 16, 2021 at 3:53 pm

      Yes, absolutely they should disband the VA!!!!

  3. Robert F Ford August 13, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    this is crazy

  4. Emile Huesmann August 13, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    Everything about community care seems like it could be much more simplified. For instance why can’t a specialist be approved for more than six months. It’s no wonder VA employees are hard to reach. They are kept busy renewing refferals.

  5. william e. heston August 13, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    I tried to get a local check of my carotids under the vetrean’s choice.I have to go 70 miles to cleveland for a ten minute check.I was disapproved because i live
    within 5 miles of a va facility.I told them they do no do carotid checks there and was told tough S–T.i talked to the va rep and he said most all of the requests
    are denied.I see this new deal is still a bunch of crap.

  6. DAVID A RUDDELL August 12, 2021 at 7:53 pm


    • Steve Lange August 21, 2021 at 4:15 pm

      First of all, I am a combat vet! At the Denver VA Medical Center, I’ve had both good and bad (sometimes really good and really bad) service. I had cancer (stage 3C) in 2006. The care I got from Oncology and Infusion departments was top notch. I’ve also been impressed with the quality of the Cardiology department. However, a couple of other departments need to be improved. Also, I’ve had nothing but REALLY BAD experiences with Community Care (I call them “Community Cares Less”). So, in summary, I think it depends on the city (Denver might have better overall VA care than Cleveland, for example) and the department within the Medical Center.

  7. Eugene Kolinchak August 12, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    Long Beach VA Community Care delayed my follow-up dental visit by not returning phone calls and recordings. Beginning in February 2021 and extending until July 2021 at which time I was again seen at the Long Beach Dental Facility. The “dental” branch of the Long Beach Community Care is not on any good list of mine. Other parts of the Long Beach VA are very good as are the Santa Ana Clinic and the Laguna Hills Clinic.

  8. mary a blom-rose August 12, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    I too have found out that once you are out in the community for care it is only good for 1 year and then the cc doctor has to request another authorization to be able to see me for one more year. when the doctors were pushing me to go to community care they must not have known you would have to get authorizations every year. I just happened to find out when I had a question about something else for the community care center at the VA hospital I was going to before community care. I also have found out if you do not stay on top of everything they say they will do, it does not get done. It is very frustrating to have to run around and jump through hoops that a lot of people just give up trying.

  9. Bob McDuff August 12, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Community care is a really bad joke, what they dont lose they screw up. Primary care was one of the worst doctors Ive ever seen, with no two way communication to report they have a dud for a doctor.

    rated a 0 out of 10

  10. Dale Brevik August 12, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    I have used Community Care for several years.
    The best advice I can give to you is keep calling them until they do their jobs.
    I have had them get nasty with me and tell me that they “have 30 days to complete the authorization”. The 30 days is really the maximum for problem cases.
    I can’t wait for all the people who think government controlling your healthcare is a good thing to have to live with this ridiculous system.

  11. Bill Rouse August 12, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Nice video. It is too bad that the person with young ears decided to turn up the volume as loud as the speaker.

  12. Ronald Vontroba August 12, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    I have been informed by local doctors they will no longer do VA CCN because there is Too much red tape, paperwork, and late payments.

  13. Wayne Fisher August 12, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    All baloney. I live 26 miles from my Primary and 76 miles from the medical center for spealty care. First, they measure distance for CCN to your Primary care facility,, even though the care is coming from the Medical center. It just didn’t make sense. Then they measured the distance “as the crow flies”. Again just doesn’t make sense. Second, the individual who determines if you can see someone in the CCN due to appt delay’s is a member of the clinic that is having the problem with appointments. It’s in their own interest to NOT allow outside care (and don’t even think of contacting the Patient Advocate as they just forward the message to said clinic. What does a patient advocate actually do?). Again just doesn’t make sense.

    As a matter of fact, such things clearly are purposeful as the VA is not stupid. I think well of the care the VA provides. They do what is needed without the worry of profits, billing, and pre-approval. They have a number of programs to help outside of direct medical care. At the same time, the long drive to see my speacilty clinics is tiresome and hard, especially in a midwest winter. I would like to have some options.

  14. Gary August 12, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    Called VA Community Care, Durham,NC at 919-286-6899. After 15 mi Ute hold time, agent (rep) , when she asked for my name and last four of social, I asked who I was speaking to. She was rude and would not give me her name, asked what I wanted, explained to her, asked again for her name, she did not reply. I asked why she could not give her name as the proper thing to do when you answer a call and she hung up.
    I was appalled at how unprofessional and rude she was. I called and left a message with the Durham patient advocate office as this should not occur.

    • larry lynch August 12, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      I agree with your accessment of Va Comm Care. I use the CNN at Fayetteville, NC and WITHOUT FAIL AFTER my Dr has made a refferal request I have to call them to get my status— and the refferal never gets forwarded to the health care provider until I demand they do their job. I stand 100% by that statement and I can also say — STAFF at the GOLDSBORO VA UNIT WILL NOT answer the telephones……. a level of incompetance of which I have not the the like of….. yea I stand 100% behind my criticism of 1- CNN of Fayetteville 2- GOLDSBORO VA SATELLITE OFFICE.

  15. E. Drew Moore, DDS, MS August 12, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    My name is Dr. (Edward A.) Drew Moore, DDS, MS – COL (ret), DC, US Army/ TX ARNG. I am a board certified periodontist in the DFW/Denton area. If you need cleanings, periodontal care (surgery, extractions, grafts) or even general dental care, I AM in the Community Care Provider program and have been for several years. We see patients from the Dallas VA, the Fort Worth VA, and some have driven from other areas. You have to be eligible for dental care, already, based on your %. But, we usually get approval fairly quickly, once we are able to see the Veteran for an initial exam. It is not a perfect system. But, keep trying, and you should be able to be seen by a local dentist. I have a general dentist who practices here, part-time. There have been comments about poor care, cheapest and worst providers. Perhaps in the medical outreach that is sometimes the case. But, I am in my own private practice and we do not treat VA patients any differently than my other paying private practice patients. I use the same techniques and materials with all my patients. Patients are my neighbors and sometimes friends. Family members get treated for free, so I try not to see them. Just kidding! ;-) Anyway, don’t give up trying. And, if you are near DFW, get approval to come see us.

  16. John Gauer1 August 12, 2021 at 11:36 am

    The nearest VA hosp. Is 67 mi from my home, and is an hour and a half drive.
    Every time I attempt to get community care, I end up getting a run around! They make sure to put you off as long as possible, with the intent to get you to break down and drive the 67 miles for treatment!
    I haven’t seen a doctor in several years years! They hire NP’s to see you, and they make a diagnosis (always the wrong one)and by the time you see a real physician it’s several months, and your condition has worstened, and it takes much longer to recover than it should have! The treatment you get at the VA leaves a lotl to be desired to put it mildly!

  17. Edward H Ward August 12, 2021 at 11:23 am

    How does one get transportation to a community care provider for a disabled veteran confined to a wheelchair?

  18. Mel Thomason August 12, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Community Care is a joke. I live 10 miles from a town of 30,000. Plenty of doctors, optometrist, dentist, etc. I have to drive 35 miles just for an eye exam or hearing aids. There is NOT one doctor in this town that will accept a VA patient. It worked good when it was TRI-WEST, but now, after the last President, it is OPTUM and it does not work. Example: I did a search on Emergency Care. There are 5 in this town. Results: a VA cemetery 30 miles away. NOW, that’s what I call Emergency Care.

  19. John E Spratlin August 12, 2021 at 8:53 am

    It’s been two since I had my teeth cleaned, I’ve called every month. My next appointment is May 2022. I have tried to get some one to schedule me an appointment outside the VA without any luck. Because I’m 72 it seems that no one cares if I loose my teeth or anything else. Get real people we need help!!

    • Jean Crist USAF veteran August 12, 2021 at 11:19 am

      I live in a rural area two hours away from the closest hospital that has a cardiac unit. I had a major, unexpected heart attack 5/2020. I am still receiving some unpaid bills and collection calls and letters from attorneys asking to be paid for these hospital bills. I have been faxing these bills to Alicia Henley at CCN since 6/2020. I have sent email attachments to Rita Charles on a number of occasions. I have called the WH hotline twice to get these remaining bills paid. I received a letter from am attorney two weeks ago threatening action if I don’t respond in thirty days. The WH hotline assigned a case number and told me they’d resolve it in SIXTY days. This isn’t a benefit, it’s a burden.

  20. Shawna Pagan August 11, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    My husband has left side hemeparesis and is in a wheelchair. He was approved for a C Brace and has been going to physical therapy through community care. We live 1.5 hours from a VA facility. We have a difficult time renewing his pt authorization when he is out of pt visits. What is the best way to get additional pt visits in a timely manner. It usually takes a couple months and during that time without pt he regresses.

  21. Micheal August 11, 2021 at 10:54 pm

    This is all well and good. I have been using a Community Care Provider for almost 2 years and have had so many problems with the program, I have to wonder if it isn’t all by design. I don’t have problems making my appointments, or being seen by my CCP, but the problems are with getting consults with specialty doctors. My doctor keeps putting them through to the VA, but that seems to be the end of the story. I have been waiting for over 2 years to get neck surgery, over a year and a half to see my ENT for a chronic sinus infection, and shoulder surgeries have been put on the back burner as well! I can’t get in to see an orthopedic surgeon to address a failed knee surgery!
    I am beginning to think they want me die first, so they don’t have to worry about treating me! And I’m not that old!

    • Damian Bennett August 12, 2021 at 1:28 pm

      Michael, I’ve been dealing with the same issues here in S.E. Texas. When we were the Mission Act I had several Specialty Doctors in the Community but, now that it’s the Community Care Program none of my Doctors are IN Network and even when I Requested that the rejoin they turned it down because the VA is not paying the bills.
      I had ELEVEN Collection accounts on my credit report for Authorized VA Appointments that were never paid. What I learned while trying to get these issues resolved is that the Providers have a statute of limitation to bill the VA. The VA plays games and these Providers cannot reach them until after the statute expires and magically the VA is Accessible to tell the Providers that they Didn’t file in time and have to eat that debt. No provider is going to re-join a system that they’re not getting paid from. It’s another set up for failure.

    • Dale Brevik August 12, 2021 at 3:26 pm

      The only way people in Community Care do their jobs is when you call them and be a PIA.
      If you don’t call them the authorization just sits there.

  22. Kenneth McKenzie August 11, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    This article only talked about eligibility, but didn’t explain how a veteran asks for, applies, or otherwise requests Community Care.

  23. James Keck August 11, 2021 at 10:26 pm

    My Concerns are that the VA does not provide PSA (Prostrate) exams / tests or Colonoscopy Exams for VA personnel after 70 years of age.

    The Private Sector sets the age at 80 years of age. It is said that one might live only 10 to 15 years after being diagnosed. WHY?

  24. William Redd August 11, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    That’s BS. We have been trying since May to get my husband care through community care. Argh what a pain in the butt. He has a small neck aneurysm and no one seems to be able to do anything. We are now waiting for a response from UC health at Anschultz in Aurora Colorado.

  25. Donald Hayssen August 11, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    Happy u r here for us -DE Hayssen

  26. Robert Bekins 5924 August 11, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    PLEASE reduced the background music on the videos by 50. Or 75%. It makes it hard to hear the speaker. Otherwise a good video.

  27. VonHagen David August 11, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    You can no longer get community care. The local providers jumped through the VA rules to get into the system. Once they did, the VA restricted the community care again. All of the community that was approved n Spring Hill, Tn was cut off by updated distance from the VA rules. As of now 11 Aug 2021, the VA will not allow you to participate in community care.

  28. Rodger Fausey August 11, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    The veterans in NW Indiana need to have a VA Hospital in the area. Shutteling from the Crown Point VA Center is a big problem. There aren’t enough busses to Chicago and back and it takes over an hour to get to the Jessee Brown Hospital in Chicago. To bad we don’t have a high speed train to Chicago if we can’t have are our own hospital in Northwest Indiana.

  29. R. Guzulaitis August 11, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    If a veteran iš staying for an extended time, say three- four months in a foreign country / Europa can he receive some type of medical care trough the VA program?

  30. Fredrick Riley Schneider August 11, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    Can I get the name of the current VA Secretary – name, address and an actual contact address and email? Robert Mc Donald was one of the best VA Secretaries ever and gave out cell phone number and email address. Even After he left he still tries to help Veterans- what a super star!!!!

  31. karl knutson August 11, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    I cannot find out how to apply for community care

  32. jim knocke August 11, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    how do you get presscribed medications?
    My local MD sent a letter with alist of

  33. joe August 11, 2021 at 6:32 pm

    anything mentioned regarding dental work?

  34. W.E. Provine RN August 11, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    Episode of low back pain months ago. VA offered PT only at the main hospital (25 mile drive each way and No parking). I declined. Today (8/11/21) I get a call informing me that NOW I can get PT anywhere- my choice, however WORTHLESS since I recovered months ago. Typical VA procedure…..

  35. Quent Kinderman August 11, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    My spouse, not a vet, has Medicare primary and FEPBC secondary. Recently she needed serious medical care. Providers screwed up her records allowing Medicare to falsely claim to be secondary and not pay. I noticed that they now make providers ask about VA eligibility. Does this mean that Medicare will start denying care claiming VA needs to billed first? This will be a big problem if it happens!!!

  36. Unhappy August 11, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    Va has contracts with the cheapest and worst providers. Because of COVID-19, the providers are pushing you through like a herd of cattles. You can’t see the VA in less than 30 days or outside care. They don’t care. I would never have served had I known this is the care id receive.

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