Originally published in the Veteran Writers Network
One of the ten smartest people I’ve ever known told me this story: During the height of the 1930’s Depression, she graduated from high school at the top of her class. At her graduation, college scholarship recipients were announced, and she sat there, eager and curious to hear which college had chosen to award her with a scholarship. The announcement never came. She went home, puzzled and disappointed, and shortly went out and found a job at Woolworth’s. Her parents weren’t in a position to fund a college education for her.
Next summer, one of her high school friends, back from the college she’d been attending on a scholarship, said to her, “Janice, I could never figure out why you didn’t get a scholarship. You graduated a lot higher than I did.”
My friend replied, “You know, I couldn’t understand it either.”
“Where’d you apply to?” her friend said.
No one had ever let her know that, to get a scholarship, you had to ask some college for one. She figured they just handed them out to the most deserving students. That one little piece of missing information changed the course of her life considerably.
A conversation I recently had with a couple of my old friends reminded me of that story.
Gary was telling me that he’d recently gotten accepted into the Veterans’ Administration health care system, and how surprisingly painless that process had been. I’d never imagined I’d be eligible, since I’d been a mere draftee, serving for not even two years. I said as much, and Gary said, “No, I think you’re eligible. You should check it out.”
He gave me a phone number to call, I did, and next day I was given preliminary approval and – of course – an application form to fill out. I did that, took it back to the main VA clinic, and within an hour I was enrolled in the VA health care system, and told that my financial situation was such that I qualified for zero co-payments for both primary and specialized care.
Without exception, every person I dealt with at the clinic was knowledgeable, efficient, helpful and human. Hands down, it was the most relaxing and pleasant experience I’ve ever had in any medical facility.
The main VA clinic, the PFC Floyd K. Lindstrom Outpatient Clinic, is at 3141 Centennial Blvd. (just off the corner of Centennial and W. Fillmore), phone numbers (719) 327-5660 or 1(800) 278-3883.
Satellite Clinics are the Union Boulevard VA Clinic, 3920 North Union Blvd, (719) 327-5660 / Garden of the Gods Clinic, 1365 Garden of the Gods Rd, (719) 327-5660.
I had to take my application form home to collect some required information I hadn’t brought along. That included my Medicare Supplement company’s address and phone number, mine and my wife’s gross annual income and Social Security income (I didn’t need, but you might need to provide separate listings for business or investment or interest income), and total non-reimbursed medical expenses for the previous tax year.
If you collect that stuff and take it into the clinic, you should be able to get enrolled in one visit. (I’m assuming you’ll bring a copy of your DD-214, your Medicare and any supplemental health insurance cards with you.)
By the time my friend got her missing “Apply” information, it was a bit too late to do her much good. I’m grateful that I got enlightened in time to help me out, and, if by some chance, you’re an honorably discharged draftee and you didn’t know you could get health care from the VA, I hope this will get to you in time to do you some good.