Tag Archives: VA

USAF to send B-1 bomber on a loud fly-by

The Navy has its Blue Angels acrobatic flying team; the Air Force has its Thunderbirds.

The Navy and the Air Force have been sending their teams to cities across the land to honor health care workers and other responders for their heroism during the coronavirus pandemic. The Blue Angels just this week flew over the Dallas-Fort Worth area … which my wife and I missed because we happened to be out of town on that day — dang it!

Now we hear of another salute from an iconic airplane. A B-1 bomber based out of Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene is going to fly over the Thomas Creek Veterans Administration Medical Center in Amarillo on Friday; then it will head south to fly over the Lubbock VA center before returning home to Dyess.

If you’ve never watched a B-1 bomber fly overhead, you need to understand that this airplane is real loud and I guarantee that if it’s flying low enough off the deck that it will set off car alarms and get dogs to barking for miles around.

Still, these tributes are so richly deserved and I am proud of the Air Force and the Navy for arranging these magnificent tributes to the men and women who work heroically every waking minute of every day to protect us from the killer viral infection.

Our heroes deserve all these tributes and so much more.

The B-1 will fly over the Creek VA Center at 11:21 a.m. on Friday and then visit the Lubbock center at 11:40. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges those who want to watch to practice “social distancing.” By all means.

And prepare for some serious noise. It’ll thrill you to no end. I promise.

VA takes ‘social distancing’ to a new level

In about three weeks I am going to have a first-ever experience, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

I had been scheduled to see my doctor at the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Bonham, Texas. Then I got a phone call from my doc’s nurse, who told me that the doctor doesn’t need to see me in person.

My physician is going to call me around 11 a.m. on the day of my appointment and will visit with me over the phone.

We don’t want to push our luck with this “social distancing” matter in place, the nurse said. I get it, I said. No worries.

I am unclear as to how this “examination” will enable the doctor to determine the state of my health. I suppose she could make me take an oath to tell her “the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth” when she asks me my weight, whether I am continuing to exercise, whether I take my meds regularly.

What about the labs I was supposed to take when I visited the clinic, you know, the bloodwork and peeing into the cup? The nurse said I could go to the clinic “if you want to,” but said I could hold off until the next in-person visit with my doctor.

I’ll wait on that one.

And so … the pandemic has upset one facet of my life. I’ll report back to you how the “examination” goes. I will be anxious to see how my perfectly competent doctor determines whether I continue to enjoy good health.

Dr. Carpetbagger set to seek 13th Congressional District seat

What do you know about this?

A fellow who hasn’t lived anywhere near the 13th Congressional District for many years has decided to run for the House of Representatives seat being vacated by an incumbent who’s been there since 1995.

This Republican candidate, though, does have some name recognition. He is Ronny Jackson, a now-retired U.S. Navy physician who once served as personal doctor to two presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Jackson wants to succeed Mac Thornberry of Clarendon.

Dr. Jackson is a native of Levelland. However, he has been serving his country for more than two decades in the Navy. He also got tapped by Donald Trump to become veterans secretary. His nomination derailed, though, amid controversy arising from the absence of any administrative experience, not to mention allegations that he abused his staff, overprescribed drugs and drank too much while on the job as the president’s doctor. Jackson pulled out.

So now he wants to serve in Congress.

Jackson joins a crowded GOP field, with 13 other candidates running in the Republican Party. I am left to wonder whether this guy is going to parlay his name ID into a congressional job, representing a congressional district about which he likely knows next to nothing.

What fascinates me is that while he does have West Texas roots, Levelland is in the 11th Congressional District. Has the good doctor ever lived anywhere near the district he now wants to represent? Has he ever attended a grange hall meeting in Claude, or Fritch, or Dumas, or Memphis? What does this fellow know about farm policy, or water conservation, or any of the issues unique to communities such as Amarillo, or Wichita Falls?

The 13th District is spread out a long way, from the Panhandle toward the Metroplex. It is as reliably Republican as any congressional district in this nation. With apologies to my good friend Greg Sagan, who’s running as a Democrat again this year for the seat, it isn’t likely to flip to the other party in 2020.

However, the district’s constituents need to representation from someone who at least knows the issues that are unique to the sprawling region.

Dr. Jackson looks like a carpetbagger to me.

VA medical care: still top notch

I am happy — indeed, delighted — to report that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical care system is still tops in my estimation.

Now I will explain why.

I had an appointment at 10 a.m. today way down yonder at the VA’s Medical Center in south Dallas. Why mention that? Because I live about 40 miles north of the medical center in Collin County.

That meant I had to leave my house in Princeton at 8 a.m. to get there in time to check in and prepare for a medical examination I had scheduled. The VA told me to get there 30 minutes before my appointed time, which meant I had to leave extra-early.

Hmm. Eight in the morning driving along the Central Expressway through Dallas is dicey, yes? You bet it is! I got caught in morning rush-hour traffic. It became obvious to me around 9:15 that I wouldn’t get there 30 minutes early. I took a moment while stopped on the highway to call the office. I informed the voice mail machine that I would be late, that I was stuck in traffic; I’ll get there when I get there.

Right around the LBJ Freeway, the traffic jam broke up and we sailed along the Expressway, then on to Interstate 45 toward the exit I needed to take.

I pulled into the VA parking lot at 10:10, parked the car and rushed to the clinic where I was to be examined. I checked in. Then I waited for about, oh, 15 minutes before a young resident doc called my name.

We went to the exam room. He asked me a few questions. Then he got started. The exam took all of about 50 minutes. Then he said his “boss,” the attending physician would come in to go over the results of the exam.

She did. We chatted. I got a reasonably clean bill of health and was on my way.

I walked out of the VA medical center at noon. 

They could have pushed to the back of a long line. They didn’t. They could have asked me to reschedule, given that I didn’t get there 30 minutes beforehand. They didn’t.

I waited just a few minutes, which has been my experience dealing with my pre-paid medical plan.

I have been blessed since enrolling with the VA medical plan with good health. I have suffered no medical emergencies. My visits in Amarillo, where I enrolled initially and in Bonham, where I go now for my routine checkups have been routine. In and out just like that.

Today, though, presented a situation that could have turned out differently. It turned out just fine.

And the young resident, as so many of his colleagues have done whenever I have been examined, thanked me for my service to the country.

Still an ardent fan of the VA medical services

You might have seen on this blog that I have received marvelous service from the massive U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical operation.

I enrolled about a half-dozen years ago at the Thomas Creek VA Medical Center in Amarillo. It took me about 20 minutes to get signed up, after which the admitting officer said simply: “Welcome aboard.”

I received great care there. It was timely. The medical staff is always courteous. I rarely had to wait for anything.

Here is what I wrote shortly after enrolling at the VA in Amarillo:

Better late than never

Then we moved to the Metroplex. I have switched my enrollment to the Sam Rayburn Memorial Veterans Center in Bonham. The early verdict? It’s still great.

I went for a routine checkup this past week. The doctor asked me if I had any concerns. I mentioned that I have these “skin tags” on my neck. I told her I want them removed.

“You will have to go to our VA clinic in Dallas,” she said. Fine. I’ll do it.

As I checked out of the Rayburn center, a young secretary took my information and said I should expect a call to set up an appointment in Dallas. Great. Have a good day. I got the call later in the week. I set up an appointment for this morning to have those annoying “tags” removed.

Here’s where it gets really stellar.

They told me to report 30 minutes prior to my 11 a.m. appointment. I drove this morning from Princeton to south Dallas … via McKinney. I got to the massive VA complex in Dallas. I blundered my way around the chaotic complex, parking finally in a covered garage. I walked into the main entrance and asked the receptionist: “Where is Building Two?”

“You are standing in Building Two,” he told me. Well, OK, then. I am living right.

I took the elevator to the clinic where I was told to report. I checked in. The young man behind the counter said I’d be called in for blood pressure testing prior to the doc’s visit. Fine. I waited about, oh, 8 minutes.

They called me in. The nurse took my BP, weighed me and escorted me to an exam room. At this point it was about 10:45 a.m., 15 minutes prior to my appointment.

Then a young man in physician’s scrubs walked in and said, “I’m sorry, I have another procedure to do before I get to you.” No worries.

He returned at 11:10 a.m. Dang! My appointment was for 11! He was 10 whole minutes late! He took care of the issue I had. He told me to call if I had any problems. Roger that.

I walked out of the building at 11:25 a.m. and headed straight for the house.

With all of this reported to you, I hereby declare categorically that my pre-paid medical plan obtained through the Department of Veterans Affairs remains a stellar benefit.

Happy Trails, Part 156: Change coming in health care

I learned a while ago that I am not crazy about change. At my age these days change can be a bit problematic.

This latest change chapter, though, seems a good bit less so as it approaches.

I’m hitting the road Thursday for Bonham, Texas, a few miles northeast of our home in Princeton. I am going to see a new health care provider at the Sam Rayburn Veterans Center.

The Thomas Creek VA Medical Center in Amarillo had been my health care provider since I enrolled in the Veterans Administration program a few years back. I have been impressed with the care I received at the Creek center.

Now it’s time to relocate to a more conveniently located VA center to obtain my pre-paid health care.

I managed to transfer all my medical records from Amarillo to the regional office in Dallas. Modern technology allowed me to do all of it via the phone. No sweat, man.

Well, now comes a bit of a test. We’ll see if I can get in and out of the Bonham VA center with the same timeliness I was able to do when I reported for my regular checkups at the Thomas Creek center.

The Department of Veterans Affairs came under intense criticism during the final years of the Obama administration. The DVA had that scandal involving patients who were dying while awaiting medical care in Phoenix. I’ve been fortunate to date in that I have been relatively healthy. My visits to the VA medical staff have been routine. I know that eventually my luck is going to run out, given that I am approaching my 70th birthday near the end of this year.

I might be retired, which gives me a lot of time to think about “things.” I have no particular concern as I change the place where I receive my regular medical checkups and care.

My experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs has been trouble-free. I intend to ensure that it stays that way for as long as I possibly can.

Hoping the VA health system keeps working — well!

You know already that I am a big fan of my pre-paid medical insurance plan provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

My wife and I are venturing back to Amarillo in a few days to get ready for a trip out west in our recreational vehicle. Before we shove off, I have a routine medical examination scheduled with my health care provider at the Thomas E. Creek Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

To date, the VA med center has run like a well-oiled machine. I show up at the appointed time, I wait a few minutes, I get called back, the nurse practitioner gives me the once over, tells me I’m in good health and I’m on my way out the door.

I just received a text message from the Creek Medical Center. It asked me to confirm my scheduled appointment next week. I did.

Then it sent a message immediately after that, ordering me to report to the medical center “15 minutes before your appointment.”

Here’s the deal. My appointment is late in the morning, which means that the VA will have plenty of opportunity to get backed up. That means — at least that’s been my experience over the years with private medical providers — that the later in the day one sees a doc, the longer the wait times. Am I right about that? Yep. I am!

So, my question is this: Is the VA going to ask me to wait 15 minutes longer than I need to wait or am I going to see the health care provider at the appointed time?

I will have faith that the latter is going to happen.

Oh, I do cherish public health care.

Trump gets it right — apparently — with new VA pick

How about this?

Donald J. Trump has nominated a proven administrator to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Yep, Robert Wilkie is the acting VA secretary who’s been filling in since the firing of David Shulkin in March over Shulkin’s expensive travel habits.

The president turned first to the White House physician, Dr. Ronny Jackson, to lead the VA. This, despite Dr. Jackson’s lack of administrative experience. Then came allegations of some bad behavior: hostile workplace, over-prescribing of medicine and — oops! — drinking on the job.

Out went Jackson.

Now the president has selected Wilkie. Man, I hope he sails through the U.S. Senate confirmation process and is able to assume the role formally that he has been performing for the past three months.

Let’s not just yet put this nomination in the bank. Trump’s inability to vet these nominees has gotten him into trouble.

The president didn’t vet Jackson’s past adequately before nominating him to lead the VA.

The VA is a huge federal agency that needs an experienced hand to lead it. The agency also needs someone who is clean, ethical, sharp and has the veterans’ issues at the top of his mind at all times.

I am one of those 20 million veterans who is enrolled in the agency’s medical care program. Therefore, I demand a careful selection process when choosing a veterans affairs secretary.

Meanwhile, I will hope Robert Wilkie is the right man for the job. It’s good that senators on both sides of the aisle are much more enthusiastic about Wilkie than they were about Jackson.

My first benchmark for the correctness of this selection is whether Wilkie will reject the notion of privatizing VA functions.

Do not go there. Ever!

Dr. Jackson no longer the White House doc

When it rains, it … um … pours all over Dr. Ronny Jackson.

The one-time nominee to become secretary of veterans affairs now no longer is the White House physician. Jackson pulled out of the VA job over allegations that he over-prescribed medication, promoted a hostile workplace and drank on the job.

The allegations infuriated Donald J. Trump.

Now he has a new White House doctor. Sean Conley, a Navy officer, is now looking after the president’s health.

As for Dr. Jackson’s future, let’s just say he’s now tarred with the allegations that came from several sources from within the military. It got nasty as the questions kept piling up around the Navy rear admiral. His conduct was called into serious question.

He reportedly is a fine physician, having examined Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama in addition to Donald Trump. He just was considered unqualified because he never had led an organization as huge as the VA.

Then came the questions about his conduct.

His backing out of his job as White House sawbones does bring to mind a question: Was there actual substance to the allegations that scuttled Dr. Jackson’s nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs?

Trump knows things? Spill it, Mr. POTUS!

Donald Trump said the following — among many other nonsensical things — at a political rally in Michigan: “I know things about Tester that I could say, too. And if I said them, he’d never be elected again.”

What do you suppose they are?

I’m guessing they’re the kinds of “things” Trump said he knew about former President Barack Obama’s place of birth. Or about the “millions of illegal immigrants” who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Or about the wiretap that President Obama ordered on his campaign office in New York.

Of course, the president produced not a shred of evidence for anything he said he had.

Now he’s threatening Sen. Jon Tester with “things” he allegedly knows. Tester’s sin? Oh, all he did was question whether Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Ronny Jackson, was fit for the job.

The Montana Democrat is not to blame for the president’s failure to vet Dr. Jackson properly before offering him as a VA secretary nominee. Tester isn’t to blame for Trump’s shabby and sloppy appointment process.

So now he’s threatening a U.S. senator? You know, I’m understanding better now what fired FBI Director James Comey means when he says Trump governs like a “mob boss.”

Disgraceful.