No choice for Giles veteran when doctors don’t join VA Veterans Choice program



By Luanne Rife

A Giles County veteran who lives more than 40 miles from the Salem VA Medical Center could see a doctor closer to home if only he could find one willing to participate in the Veterans Choice Program.

Guerry Goode said he’s been told by the VA’s program administrator that only one regional provider has signed on, and that doctor is in Roanoke, which is even farther from his home.

 Goode suspects that what’s happening in Southwest Virginia is happening all over the country as veterans still can’t quickly access health care. A VA spokeswoman agreed to check into the program this week but then did not respond with information.

Veterans Choice was a $10 billion Congressional response to last year’s scandal that found veterans were often waiting far too long to access care at VA facilities. The VA hired third parties to administer the program, through which veterans who can’t get a timely appointment with the VA can secure one with a doctor outside the VA system. It also gives veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA clinic the option to see doctors closer to home.

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