NJ Veteran Journal
Summer 2004 Edition

Disabled Vets Get Priority From VA

From the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Under a new directive, all veterans with serviceconnected medical problems will receive priority access to health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi issued the new directive to all VA medical facilities to give “priority access” to qualifying veterans seeking medical treatment.

“ Caring for veterans with service-connected medical problems is a major reason VA exists,” said Secretary Principi. “This directive should ease the minds of veterans who no longer have to wait for health care

The new directive provides that all veterans requiring care for a service-connected disability — regardless of the extent of their injury — must be scheduled for a primary care evaluation within 30 days of their request for care. If a VA facility is unable to schedule an appointment within 30 days, it must arrange for care at another VA facility, at a contract facility or through a sharing agreement.

The directive covers hospitalization and outpatient care. It does not apply to care for medical problems not related to a service-connected disability. However, veterans needing emergency care will be treated immediately. The new provision is an extension of rules that took effect in October 2002 for severely disabled veterans. Under the earlier rule, priority access to health care went to veterans with disabilities rated at 50 percent or more. For the severely disabled, the priority includes care for non-service-connected medical problems.

The number of veterans using VA’s health care system has risen dramatically in recent years, increasing from 2.9 million in 1995 to nearly 5 million in 2003. Although VA operates more than 1,300 sites of
care, including 162 hospitals and more than 800 outpatient clinics, the increase in veterans seeking care outstrips VA’s capacity to treat them.

Table of Contents
Governor’s Letter
Deveraux Appointed
Old Glory Grand Opening
NJ Korean Service Medal
Stand Down 2004
Retirees Get Pay Increase
SAA News
Veterans News You Can Use
Veterans Get Priority Care
Veterans History Project
VSO Listing
General Information

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