Friday, May 27, 2011

Rocky Transition for Service Members Upon Discharge to VA

by Kristina Derro
Veterans Disability Lawyer

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 regarding the historically rocky transition for service members between leaving the Department of Defense (DoD) and beginning to receive medical treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Researchers found that increasing levels of drug abuse and suicides among recently-separated combat veterans can be partly blamed on inadequate coordination as service members are discharged from the military and become the responsibility of VA.

A lack of coordination was also found to negatively affect the treatment of combat-related injuries. At the DoD, injured service members receive state-of-the-art care, receive counseling services, and are prescribed narcotics to treat pain. When service members are discharged and begin to receive their medical care from VA, research has shown that VA improperly manages their narcotic medications, making them more likely to abuse drugs, become homeless, or commit suicide. Further, due to a rocky handoff, veterans at VA also have physicians who are unfamiliar with the course of treatment that those veterans were receiving while with the DoD.

The area of prosthetics is one example where the lack of coordination and lack of familiarity hurt the veterans. The DoD has outstanding prosthetics for its amputees. Upon arrival at VA, many VA physicians are fascinated by the high-tech devices, having never seen them before, and are more interested in examining the devices rather than examining the veterans.

Both the Deputy Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs recognized the need for a truly seamless handoff from the DoD to the VA medical facilities. Recognizing the problem is the first step, however it seems that the VA has a history of being unable to rectify the problems even though they have been sufficiently identified.

To learn more or to contact a Veterans disability lawyer, Veterans disability attorney, Veterans lawyer, or Veterans attorney call 1.800.693.4800 or visit

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