The MyVA Cascadia Board held a town hall meeting in Bend, OR at Central Oregon Community College on May 9, 2016 to discuss on-going issues with veterans and families in the region. The following is a list of issues and concerns discussed.

The Board will be meeting later in June to begin discussions as to how address these issues in both the short- and long-term. More information will be provided as solutions, partnerships, and ideas are formulated. If you have ideas regarding these issues, please weigh in!

 

Bend, Oregon
Category Need Resolution
Benefits The claims process.  It seems that disabled Veterans are guilty until proven innocent.  The VA demands expert opinions from a private doctor, but Veteran is already disabled so they are struggling emotionally and financially Laws need to be changed where when it is obvious based on where they were stationed in combat, the wounds make sense.
Continuity of Care My son’s doctor left and clinic did not set up an appointment with his new doctor.  They said it was my son’s responsibility (TBI, PTSD).  Couldn’t get through on phone line so went into clinic Keep track of Veterans and contact them to see if they need appointment with new doctor
Benefits The DOD sends soldiers into battle and order them to perform unhealthy tasks and as a result they are wounded.  DOD then sends them to VA.  DOD should take the blame  
Benefits How do I get a HIPAA? There are instances when you can help.  Sometimes you have an ethical duty to reach out to help.
Benefits Law needs to be changed so it is not worked for claims, “as likely as not”  
Health Care The Choice program is good in general.  I try to help my son find a mental health provider but I’m not sure how to use Choice as his advocate.  Can he use an outside provider  
Health Care Walk in care Find PA or local doctors to volunteer one day a month to assist with walk-ins
Benefits New to VA system.  Still learing about VA and what they offer, and learning about what others have experienced with the system  
Transportation The continuation of the Central Oregon Veterans Medical Transportation program.  50-120 Veterans per month will not make it to medical appointments Interested and caring volunteers, alternate funding sources, smart ideas
Mental Health Coordinator for making appointments for mental health.  Called over a period of several months with no return calls.  MH not notifying Veteran of appointment  
Health Care Continuous rotation of caregiver at CBOC Increase their pay so it meets local pay scale
Health Care Dental care – 90+day wait; cardiology care – have to go to Portland Persuade congress to change rules
Transportation Getting drivers certified to drive to Portland or just around central Oregon We can now get physicals in Bend, but can’t do fingerprinting in area
Health Care Hiring people who care An evaluation once a year
Coordination of Care Who is the Veteran’s advocate with direct access to COO/CEO of St. Charles Health System or Bend Memorial Clinic? Develop this person to have the personal relationship to problem solve the myriad of access issues
Benefits Allow for more % for travel pay to cover the loss of work, child care, fuel Policy Change
Health Care Walk in care Hire extra staff and rotate doctors into walk in care
Beneft Allow Veterans to use their GI bill benefits no matter how long it has been.  We paid for it. Policy Change
Housing Access to affordable housing for students Partner with developers who focus on and offer affordable housing
Health Care Bend health care has almost all of the medical resources without going 150 miles away Fund the VA to provide people and resources as needed
Benefits Timely processing of claims/benefits applications; 6-8 weeks to see a VSO Additional funding for VSOs and assistants
Health Care The Choice program is a joke for Bend/Redmond residents.  Very little services at the clinic, but that prevents us from using outside doctors Allow Choice for specialties not available at clinic
Resources   Suggest offering a publicized service to Veterans helping them find volunteer opportunities to help other Veterans
Health Care Access to medical care/PCPs turnover of doctors and morale Increase funding/staff/capacity and care for front line staff
Coordination of Care Smooth transition from purchased care to Choice.  Too many Veterans confused/unsure of how to access care Education forums or open house to explain how it works
Health Care Increasing the availability to contact providers Get rid of telephone line to Portland
Health Care Timely hiring of providers and staff within the VA system along with wages Decrease the bureaucracy of the HR system
Benefits Knowledge of what’s available to Veterans: services, benefits, etc. Increase advertising to create awareness
Resources Sharing resources (non-profits) that want to help fill in the gaps that VA has Start a resource list that is easy to follow and share
Resources Caregiver support meetings Allow VA to share information if caregivers give okay.  Set up meetings so caregivers can meet and start group
Benefits Have VA left hand talk to right. Communicate better on benefits
Health Care Communication – it takes several tries to get through to VA, put on hold and then disconnected.  Calls not returned, no follow-up Hire competent, knowledgeable people who actually care.  This includes, but not limited to receptionists, technicians, providers
Health Care The Bend CBOC mentions how busy they are, but visiting with staff members state otherwise. Needs to be more transparency with CBOC and let their community know what is happening
Benefits   Hire one person for Central Oregon who can navigate VA, Choice program, claims, updates, transportation.  Someone who will advocate for Veterans
Benefits   It would be nice to have people in place to assist with filing claims, other than VSOs
Resources Travel that Central OR Veterans have to endure to get specialty care Consider an additional inpatient/speciality facility for local community
Health Care Not reaching out to local practitioners to fill gaps in Choice program Reach out to physician organizations with Choice details
Health Care Communication about processes and procedures with Choice program Partner with VSOs to liaison between Veteran needing care
Communication Misinformation and lack of information to Veterans Every Oregon Veteran gets a subscription to ODVA newsletter
Resources Each community has a bunch of Veteran organizations that do not communicate or advocate Each community establish a Veterans council consisting of VSOs, AL posts, etc to get updates from MyVA Cascadia
Health Care Communication via phone Need human voice on VAPORHCS telephone options
Health Care When calling Choice or any VA facility, VA rep should be in your areas and not on the east coast Break areas of service into local centers
Benefits Access to benefits, problems with constant change in caregivers  
Resources Food for homeless and affordable housing Central Oregon Kitchen wants to help
Health Care Creating trust between VA and service user.  This is especially true with MST survivors Clinicans need to use trauma informed interventions
Health Care Access issues; compressed tours for leadership in local clinic  
Resources Lack of support to family members who live with a Veteran with PTSD Allow counseling for marital individual and children
Benefits Travel reimbursement, length of time for disability claim reassessment, too long to see a specialist  
Resources Immediate emergency medical care, affordable housing, local drug/alcohol rehab options Effective networking at every government and local level
Health Care Veterans with PTSD are still being prescribed multiple medication instead of receiving quality mental health care Allow more trauma informed interventions
Coordination of Care Tri-West and Choice problems. 30 days to get an appointment through them Communication
Health Care Same day appointments Pay local providers more or inform local providers they can help Veterans
Benefits Stopping benefits for Veterans who go on active orders when they request it and not 8 months later Honor the requests of the Veterans when they are made
Health Care Same day appointments Get more doctors for the Bend clinic or work with local doctors to handle the workloads
Benefits Sufficient funds for the VBA and VHA and Vet Center operations so they can do their jobs timely Properly report shortcomings to congress and OMB
Health Care Not enough mental health providers and funding.  Veterans coming back from combat are generally waiting a month or longer to be seen Pay providers more money, fund mental health before issues become so profound
Resources A phone book number for a special clearing house of any veterans issues
Health Care The long distances that Veterans have to travel from Bend for specialty care Allow Veterans to use local hospitals and doctors
Benefits A better information filing system – it should not be difficult to change marital status or address Electronic filing system that is better than current one
Health Care Appointment times that work for people with full time jobs A better appointment making system; more flexible hours
Transportation VA Driver Certification  
Health Care A long wait time for doctor’s appointments Need 48 hour appt options
Health Care Dental Care Change the rules
Health Care Doctors bills denied and sent to collections  
Health Care Pain meds being shut down without notice  
Transportation Transportation to VA hospitals Change the rules