VA Expands Health Care Benefits

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

BIG SPRING- You've seen the commercials but Army strength or Marine pride can become an obstacle for service men and women who need help to transition into civilian life, according to Wayman Wells, RN at the West Texas Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Big Spring. Wells works directly with veterans returning from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We make our American Soldiers Tough," he said the men and women are trained not to waiver. "But when they come home they're not at war anymore. They're at Wal-Mart or McDonalds. They have a hard time separating what they just walked out of when they return home."

Wells wants the veterans to take advantage of the services at the VA hospital.

"We want them to know that if there suffering from PTSD, anger management." He said his office can help,"It does take the strength of a warrior to ask for help."

New Veterans have just 180 days to sign up for dental care. Veterans can receive health care for five years after they leave active duty. After five years they must qualify based on their income but last month the United States Department of Veterans Affairs raised the income threshold by 10 percent.

"It's all veterans. If you are a veteran we are encouraging you to contact us," Donna Saffioti, Acting Medical Director at the West Texas VA systems, said.

The VA staff also wants more female veterans to learn about the services.

"Today's female veteran has children in tow, they have jobs. They're just busy, busy, busy. They don't have time to spend all day at the VA," Settles said she tries to make a trip to the VA a one stop shop for these female veterans.

Settles encourages female veterans to check out the variety of services they offer women and says what they can not perform at the VA they will contract out to other facilities. Settles says even though the help is out there she says many women are not taking advantage.

For More Information: www.va.gov/healtheligibility and 1-877-222-VETS or call 1-800-472-1365.