Tuesday, July 23, 2024


Another Saturday morning writing session, I have unsuccessfully deciphered the weather which includes rain, snow, wind, and the sun. Shortly before putting my fingers to keyboard, I was honored with a visit from a Veteran or friend. In a short 60-minute conversation (BS session), we were able to solve all the world’s problems.

I value my personal and professional interac­tions with my fellow Veterans. Each provides an opportunity for me to share information, but I also learn something equally valuable from each of you. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this Veteran is us­ing Community Care, a program that allows el­igible Veterans to receive free health care in the community (outside of a VA facility). There is no need to drive to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center (VAMC) when VA may authorize care in the Veteran’s own community.

Just one of the many “extras” you may receive when enrolled in VA health care. Do you need a medical service not currently provided at your VA clinic? Please talk to your VA primary care physician about a Community Care (CC) refer­ral. You need a CC authorization letter prior to receiving services outside a VA facility.

VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Services  (PSAS) provides artificial limbs, hearing aids, communication aids, eyeglasses, orthopedic brac­es and shoes, wheelchairs, crutches, canes, med­ical equipment, automobile adaptive equipment, ramps, and devices surgically implanted such as hips and pacemakers. Please note that your CVSO does not provide these devices or services. You must submit a request to your VA doctor.

Not all Veterans are eligible for all VA health care services. There are several factors used to de­termine the level of care (assignment in priority groups 1 – 8). VA may evaluate your military ser­vice, current financial need, distance from the near­est VA facility, and service-connected disabilities when authorizing care and medical devices. Hav­ing a service-connected disability rating is not required but may improve your opportunities for additional free health care services.

Are you uncertain about your enrollment or pri­ority group in VA health? Unfortunately, CVSOs do not have access to VA health systems that in­clude this information. However, you may call the Minneapolis VAMC eligibility office at 612-467-1991 or call MyVA411 at 800-698-2411.

No more excuses, apply for VA health care to­day. Apply by phone at 877-222-8387, online at va.gov/health-care/apply/application/introduc­tion, in person at nearly VAMC or clinic, or con­tact your CVSO.

Brad Anderson and Melissa Crandall are the Lake County Veterans Service Officers and can be reached at 218.834.8326 or cvso@co.lake.mn.us

Karen Christianson is the Cook County Veterans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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