Pete served as an Army medic in the late 70s. In 2010, he was injured and couldn’t work, so he came to VA for help.

Why did you go to VA for help? What kind of services did you find?

I was an ironworker for 20 years or more and I was working on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I had a couple of injuries. I couldn’t do my job anymore. I went down to VA and told them that I was having pain issues, chronic pain issues.

They said that they’d treat me, but when they did, my life history – you know, I was a single man and I had spent my times after work sitting in the bars – but they wouldn’t treat me unless I’d stop drinking. They gave me a drug and alcohol treatment. This was all out at Perry Point.

How did your experience compare to private hospitals? What was your general sense?

I felt very fortunate [about] the care that I got. It’s almost like being active service again. You feel like you’re in a family. I feel like I’m in a family-type situation. I had the drug and alcohol treatment. Quite a few surgeries.

I’ve had a lot of counseling, a lot of group activities with other GIs. Physical therapy. I had acupuncture.

Suppose you had unlimited funds, unlimited access, you could go anywhere. Would you still choose VA?

Yes, I would. I’ve been in with VA now on a very regular basis since May of 2010, and I just want my medical history just to stay there.

I don’t ever intend, you know, to go outside of the VA for my medical care anymore, no matter what happens down the line. I’ve had nothing but success.

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By Bronwyn Emmet is a public affairs specialist for VA's National Veterans Outreach Office

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Published on Oct. 12, 2021

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