How to not lose your mind when dealing with the VA

 


Warning: For this post I placed my political correctness off to the side and just let things kind of flow. This piece is quite long and contains course language, sarcasm, cynicism, and a healthy dose of “I’m trying not to lose my mind.”


va, veteran, spouse, military, military wife

As you may know by now, my husband is a combat-veteran with several service-connected injuries. At this point in time, our most viable option for treatment for his conditions is going to the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is also attempting this program called Vocational Rehabilitation that is supposed to aid Veterans gain professional and educational skills needed for them to become more independent and help with the transition of being a total basket case to becoming a productive member of society whose taxes shall help pay VA employees’ salaries in order for them to continue this ever present cycle of self-fulfillment.

I don’t think I’m supposed to be saying things like this, but oh well! I’m sure they’ll be just fine!

Side note: I am not saying that ALL VA employees are narcissistic assholes with a major superiority complex! There are a number of well-meaning, empathetic and wonderful people we’ve met and interact with on a regular basis, but those narcissistic assholes with a major superiority complex just seem to stand out.

But you know, living off pills the VA loves to prescribe, being perceived as wallowing in self-pity, never having enough money to do anything or barely pay the bills, and constantly living in fear of losing benefits that were promised to the veteran- because some bureaucrat with an self-inflated ego decides a Veteran is cured from all of his ailments based on a single side-note one of his/her providers wrote in their medical records decides that the veteran doesn’t qualify for a particular rating, is super fun! This is exactly what these men and women envisioned their lives to be like when they left the military.

As a wife, I totally envisioned countless nights of laying awake in bed, too worried to go to sleep, because my husband stops breathing at night. I wanted nothing more than having to physically help my husband cut his hair, because he can’t stand or bend over long enough for him to do it himself. It was my life’s goal to have to justify and explain everything on the level of a 1-year old when calling doctors and other providers in the VA system to explain a simple fuck-up that happened with my husband’s medication.

I enjoy being spoken to like I am some non-educated, lower-class, imbecile, because I want to know what I should do about that bottle of pills that broke in the mail and now all of my husband’s medicine is mixed in with shards of plastic and I have nowhere to put it. I can’t just put those pills in the old bottle, because it will throw the count off and will set off my husband’s hyper-vigilance and anxiety towards a level even the Almighty Dr. Phil couldn’t bring him down from. Yes, these people would know and understand things like this if they didn’t just see my husband as the last four of my husband’s Social and the reason they get their pay-check each month.

Fine! Whatever!

I will deal with them, because I have to and I would like to see my husband in a place he can feel comfortable in. He will never be cured, regardless of what some Psych PhD Intern or student comes up with in their non-peer-reviewed study that was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He can try to find ways to cope with the demons that follow him and will follow him for the rest of his life and I will be there right next to him! This goes for his medical and mental health care, as well as his Vocational Rehabilitation.

So here is a lovely story that drove me to writing this. Let’s see if I can amuse y’all a little with the sheer craziness I’ve been trying my damnedest to not lose my shit over:





My husband has been dealing with his Voc Rehab Counselor for a couple of months now. His intention of starting this program was to obtain the necessary skills he needed to become a productive member of society again. From the very beginning his counselor told him he would not sign off on a plan that included him attending a school such as University of Phoenix or DeVry University. We agreed, because my husband is looking at getting a specific degree that requires a certain accreditation in order for him to be successful in the field he’s chosen. However, we did try to explain to him that a traditional on campus institution may not be the best option for my husband due to his PTSD and TBI and other conditions he has because of the TBI. But for the sake of getting into the program, we took it step by step.

OK, so for months now my husband has been attending the local Community College that basically only offers a handful of classes he needs for his degree in class. This means that he’s been taking online classes either way. However, for some reason this is far more logical for his Counselor than just letting him attend a University that offers a degree completely online. He is adamant about the notion that people who attend online schools only end up being 70% competent in the field they are studying and that the VA is not in the business of creating incompetent people for the workforce.

So eventually I got a little upset and told him that I obtained my degree online, ended up with a 3.69 GPA, am a member of two Honor Societies and I have a 4.0 GPA in my Masters; which happens to also be online. And I do not consider myself only 70% competent by any means, as many people have told me I portray myself as a well-educated young woman who is also well spoken. I research my shit (see how well-spoken I am?), I study A LOT and love to learn new things, I give 110% to everything I do; including school! I have attended on-campus and online programs, so it’s not like I decided to attend some diploma mill. But he’s the genius here!

Given the fact that my husband doesn’t drive long distances and does not drive frequently, I am basically his chauffeur; which means that if he was to attend a school 35 miles away from our house (as his counselor said he wanted him to) I am the one who would have to take him! Seriously? It normally takes us about 1 hour to drive from our house into the city- that’s not counting traffic though.

Add the traffic and the occasional idiot that wants to drive 30mph in a 55mph zone and you have the perfect storm for a 1 hour 30 min or longer trip. So, I would have to take him then wait on him to finish a 90 minute class and then drive back home, somehow make sure that we beat rush hour in order for us to make it home in time before Elijah gets home. Because going to jail for negligence isn’t really something I look forward to. Oh and somewhere in between all that I am supposed to still do everything else the VA expects me to do as a caregiver, provide my family with the same level of attention they are used to, go to school at least part-time and find a job or start my career somewhere along the road. Yes, I’ll get right on that!

So his Counselor told my husband to go to the local community college and hesitantly approved for him to go to some other local college that doesn’t necessarily provide the type of education and program my husband needs for the career he is aiming for. But, for sake of staying on the program my husband obliged and signed the contract. We kind of figured he’d be able to deal with all the Bullcrap at a later day.

Well, we thought wrong!



His Counselor is seemingly laying one road block after another into my husband’s path, all the while getting extremely upset about my involvement in this whole process. Yes! I have been involved because this man is practically trying to intimidate and threaten my husband into a plan that doesn’t suit him and doesn’t take his disabilities into consideration at all! How in the Hell is my husband supposed to become a productive member of society that pays this man’s salary if his sole purpose seems to have rested on his ability to make my husband’s life a living Hell by jeopardizing any progress he’s made on the clinical side, not taking his disabilities into consideration for this rehabilitation process and flat-out piss his wife off with extremely chauvinistic comments?

How do I not lose my shit when dealing with the VA, you ask?

  1. Nutella!
    • Nutella is the best invention since Neolithic people’s intentional wine making! Nutella spread on a toasted piece of whole grain bread- that way I don’t feel like I am a total fat-ass- is one of the best ways of coping with just about any level idiot I encounter.
  2. Wine!
    • Preferably either a Red Moscato, a Sweet Riesling or one of our local Pinot Nior! If I have time, this pairs well with an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, How to get away with Murder, The Night Shift, Lucifer, or any other show I have set to record but never have time to actually watch.
  3. I stand my ground!
    • No, not like that law! When I know I am right, or I fully understand a concept, or I have the slightest feeling that I know a certain treatment or medicine or practice may not be the most viable option for my husband, I make sure I let them know! I try to be as polite as I can be and portray myself in a well-spoken manner, but I do not have an issue going above someone’s head to get my point across! If I feel as though you are jeopardizing my husband’s well-being, YOU WILL KNOW!
  4. Pilates!
    • Not only has this helped me get some frustration out, I’ve also lost 15 lbs so far in the process! I’ve been slacking the last couple of weeks though, because things around here have been quite buys.
  5. I lose my shit!
    • Yes, I technically said that this article is about me NOT losing my shit; HOWEVER, every once in a while my meter simply overflows and all the Nutella, Wine and Pilates in the world wouldn’t help to calm me down. So…I lose my shit! Depending on the circumstances that means:
      • I cry my eyes out, because I’m so pissed!
      • I lock myself in the bathroom and literally pace back and forth until I either cry or somehow calmed down. (This sounds a little crazy now that I read it, but that’s OK)
      • I go on a rant! I literally just walk around my house just ranting and bitching. I feel a whole lot better afterwards, but everyone in the house seems to hide every time this happens- not quite sure why they would do that though. 🙂

 

Any of this sound familiar? Please tell me I’m not the only one losing it every once in a while. 🙂


Disclosure: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. Some posts may contain affiliate links. For more details please view my disclosure policy.


2 Comments

  1. Tammy Masters October 11, 2016
    • Alisha October 11, 2016

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