Last week’s article titled VA Provided vision care, corrective lenses, eyeglasses, frames, contact lenses, and more, found at http://bit.ly/3ldN8tB resulted in some great questions from our readers.
This article will attempt to answer those questions and more.
One reader asked, “I am eligible (for VA Healthcare) …. (but) when I did ask, I was told the VA doesn’t offer or pay for any portion of Lasik.”
Answer: First, the last paragraph of last week’s article titled Contact lenses and LASIK Surgery stated that “The VA provides contact lenses (non-cosmetic only) and LASIK surgery services.” That should have said, “The VA provides contact lenses (non-cosmetic only) and LASIK surgery services (non-cosmetic only).”
This writer did some more research at the VA’s VISION website at http://bit.ly/3RKgPyA and the Department of Veteran Affairs YouTube SITREP titled, Does VA Provide LASIK Surgery? which is found at https://youtu.be/_fYjAtNeQbQ. That VA video interview says (My paraphrasing):
The VA is not doing laser vision correction (LASIK or PRK) for cosmetic reasons. This means the VA is not doing laser vision correction for veterans when glasses or contacts will correct the vision.
Although the YouTube VA Video does not come out and say it directly, it implies that the VA would approve laser surgery for a medical reason that could not be treated or corrected with glasses or contacts. The YouTube SITREP also implies that the VA may not have Vision Laser equipment everywhere and may have to refer a veteran to a Community Care Provider for any medically needed laser eye care.
This writer also did some more research at the VA’s VA VISION website https://bit.ly/3RKgPyA and the Department of Veteran Affairs YouTube SITREP titled, Does VA Provide Contact Lenses? which is found at https://youtu.be/zzcCHzdjLHk. That VA video interview says (My paraphrasing):
The VA does not provide contact lenses for cosmetic purposes. Meaning, the VA does not provide contact lenses when glasses will provide the corrective vision. It is true that a person wearing contacts has a whole different type of vision wearing contacts versus a person wearing glasses. This is especially true for persons in the medical field, persons with compromised immune systems, workers subject to dust and other airborne particles, and others who are required or recommended to wear a medical or industrial protective face mask.
For those who are wearing glasses and those glasses are constantly getting fogged up, contact lenses can be a lifesaver.
Unfortunately, the number of in-house VA eyecare providers is limited and the number of available VA appointments for eyecare is currently requiring the VA to only offer contact lenses to those veterans whose contacts are medically indicated.
For example, the VA does authorize contact lenses for those patients who have an irregularity of the corneal surface, which results in a big difference in the prescription between the eyes. In other words, sometimes only contacts can correct the condition the veteran has.
One reader asked, “How do I get eye care services at the VA?”
Answer: The simple answer is to determine if you are eligible for VA healthcare and, if you are eligible then enroll in VA healthcare. Veterans can read about VA Health care benefits, eligibility, how to apply, applying online (VA Form 10-10EZ), what to do, and family and caregiver health benefits at https://www.va.gov/health-care/. VA health care includes inpatient and outpatient health services at VA Medical Centers, Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), and (potentially) community health services. Veterans can call the VA Health Care Line at 877-222-8387 and press 1 to ask questions about VA Health Care.
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System (RHJVAHCS) and Medical Center (RHJVAMC) Eligibility & Enrollment Office at 843-789-7008 can tell veterans what medical benefits they are eligible for and enroll (eligible) veterans into the VA Health Care System. Veterans can also find out if they are eligible for VA Health Care at any of the RHJVAHCS CBOCs. The RHJVA Health Care System operates the following CBOCs:
Beaufort VA Clinic – 1 Pinckney Boulevard, Beaufort, S.C. 29902-6122, phone: 843-770-0444.
Savannah VA Clinic – 1170 Shawnee St., Savannah, Ga. 31419-1618, Main phone: 912-920-0214, Mental health clinic: 843-789-7311.
Hinesville VA Clinic – 500 East Oglethorpe Highway, Hinesville, Ga. 31313-2804, Main phone: 912-408-2900.
Charleston VA Clinic – 2424 City Hall Lane, Community Resource & Referral Center (CRRC), Suite B, N. Charleston, S.C. 29406-6538, phone: 843-789-6804.
Goose Creek VA Clinic – 2418 NNPTC Circle, Goose Creek, S.C. 29445-6314, phone: 843-577-5011 x3100.
North Charleston VA Clinic – 6450 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston, S.C. 29406, Main phone: 843-818-5100.
Trident 2 VA Clinic – 9229 University Boulevard, N. Charleston, S.C. 29406-9150, phone: 843-789-6975.
Myrtle Beach VA Clinic – 1800 Airpark Drive, Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29577-1412, phone: 843-477-0177.
Patient Advocates Office
If you are a veteran has trouble getting the healthcare they need, getting a hold of a VA office, or just need help to answer a question about the VA, they should reach out to the PATIENT ADVOCATES. Veterans can find VA healthcare facilities and advocates thru the VA website http://bit.ly/40t70sN.
Ralph H. Johnson VA Healthcare System (RHJVAHCS) Patient Advocates
According to the RHJVAHCS PATIENT ADVOCATE webpage http://bit.ly/3Ygr548, the patient advocates at VA Charleston health care are specially trained to help veterans and their family members resolve issues with their care.
The following RHJVAHCS Patient Advocates are available:
Hannah P. McCoy, RHJVAHCS Patient Advocate Supervisor, VA Charleston healthcare, Phone: 843-789-6066.
Traviell Hartsfield, Patient Advocate, N. Charleston, and Goose Creek VA Outpatient Clinics, VA Charleston healthcare, Phone: 843-789-6066.
Traciee M. Prioleau, Patient Advocate, VA Charleston health care, Phone: 843-789-6066.
Tiffany M. Hadaway, Patient Advocate, Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic, VA Charleston healthcare, Phone: 843-789-6066.
Valeria Edwards, Patient Advocate, VA Charleston healthcare, Phone: 843-789-6066.
Lakiesha Long, Patient Advocate, Savannah, Hinesville, and Beaufort VA Outpatient Clinics, VA Charleston healthcare, Phone: 843-789-6066.
The Patient Advocate line 843-789-6066 is attended by all six advocates plus one assistant.
Optometry Services and Scheduling – https://youtu.be/Yv2p4njItUA
VA vs. Private Sector – https://youtu.be/QICQ3vXjA7A
Types of Lenses Available – https://youtu.be/ggsz3B3lo7E
Does VA Provide Contact Lenses? – https://youtu.be/zzcCHzdjLHk
Does VA Provide LASIK Surgery? – https://youtu.be/_fYjAtNeQbQ
Does VA Provide Eye Medications? Does the VA Pay for EXPENSIVE eye medications? – https://youtu.be/_U-NoXQtzO4
Visual Rehabilitation – https://youtu.be/Obb4p937cNg
Does VA Pay for Private Sector Exams? – https://youtu.be/zPcCJfl_38M
Types of Frames Available – https://youtu.be/FmMxB7ohI08
How Often Should Veterans Have Exams? – https://youtu.be/kFIePf7_Lqo
VA Eye Care Services for the Blind, TBIs, & Assistive Tech | VA Health Care | theSITREP – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Obb4p937cNg&t=6s
How to Enroll in VA Health Care – https://youtu.be/ZO9snrUHP_A
VA Disability – https://youtu.be/aX9FEYEiXwM.
Larry Dandridge is a Vietnam War wounded warrior, disabled veteran, ex-Enlisted Infantryman, ex-Warrant Officer Pilot, and retired Lt. Colonel. He is a past Veterans Service Officer, a Patient Adviser at the RHJ VA Hospital, the Fisher House Charleston Good Will Ambassador, and the VP for Veteran Affairs for the local Army Association Chapter. Larry is the author of the award-winning book Blades of Thunder and a contributing freelance writer with The Island News. Contact him at LDandridge@earthlink.net or 843-276-7164.