My Personal Experience with the VA Healthcare System has been excellent with the exception of two issues.
The current issue is that I am unable to get scheduled with a regular 'Doctor.' There is quite a bit of shuffling of 'providers' within the VA system that it is difficult to see the same one every time you have an appointment, if you can even get an appointment; which is the current scandal involving the VA Healthcare System.
When I returned to the VA system in 2009, after having walked away from it in the '80s due to their lack of concern for my health coverage, I found that it had improved a great deal. Of course my situation had changed as I was now in the category of 'service-connected' disability, which had taken over a year-and-a-half to get approved by the VA.
My care-provider at the time was excellent. He knew his stuff plus was a Veteran himself. Two years later, he reached his retirement age and took advantage of it. That's when there was no 'provider/Doctor' assigned to cover my ills. What had happened is that the VA knew my 'Doc' was retiring, but didn't seek to replace him until after he departed. That went on for several months, as I was shuffled around from 'Doc' to 'Doc.'
Eventually, the VA hired someone to take me and many other Vets on as his assigned group. That didn't even last a year, when he was assigned to another function within the agency. No was was given the task of covering for his former patients. This is still the case as I wait for an appointment with God knows who.
The other practices/specialties at our local VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) are superb. I have no qualms with the services they've given me. But most of them require a referral by my 'Doc' and I don't have one.
The influx of Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan "wars" have overwhelmed the entire VA Healthcare system. It was not prepared to handle an increased volume as these conflicts dumped folks into the system. Nor, of course did Congress even consider care for these Veterans when they sent them off to fight the 'wars' they fund. Buy bullets, but care for the injured and maimed warriors . . . oops, sorry . . . . we forgot . . . and continue to do so. (We Vietnam Veterans know that all too well).
Granted the Grand Rapids area is about to have a brand-new clinic building opening later this year, but that facility is located at the south end of the county, and transportation could very well be a problem for some of my comrades. We'll see what is done to resolve this point.
So, overall, I am content with the healthcare I receive . . . but I have to wait my turn; just as they trained us to do during our military service . . . . "hurry up and wait" and "stand in line."
The biggest gripe I have with the VA Healthcare system is the lack of follow-up or communication which happened to me in May of 2012. Here is the description of the incident I wrote up at that time:
To this day, I've neither been reimbursed or received an apology for the 'pain' I've experienced as a result. I decided that it wasn't worth the grief and turmoil which it would take to have the scenario resolved, so to keep my blood pressure and temper under control, I've moved on. But I have a constant reminder of this snafu every time I step on my left foot.
I shake my head and remember the phrase . . . . "I'm from the Federal Government and I'm here to help you." Yeah, okay, thanks for your concern."