PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Men and women who served our country earn more than our gratitude. Veterans earn many benefits including some they may not know they are entitled to.
Many men and women may leave active duty without realizing the health services available to them. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller walked through the process to see what’s required and how veterans can benefit.
Signing up for benefits at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center is a process 43-year-old U.S. Army Veteran Chris Garza is familiar with. He’s done it at two other VA’s when he lived in other parts of the country.
“I had to transfer all of my benefits from where I was at before to here,” said the Mountain Top man.
Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Eligibility Specialist Myron Romanchick outlines the two main factors which determine a veteran’s eligibility.
“The financials and the character of service,” Mr. Romanchick said.
Mr. Garza gets medication and services through the VA to cope with some chronic conditions resulting from training and deployments.
“Whole right side of my body is just always in pain especially like from the knee down. I broke my ankle while I was in service. I have Osgood-Schlatter disease off of my right knee,” Mr. Garza said.
But just getting in the door to sign-up often becomes a barrier for vets. Mr. Romanchick said, “The biggest thing is trying to get veterans to come here so we can break that and show them all the benefits that they are leaving, effectively, on the table.”
“I don’t think some veterans recognize what we offer,” said Gloria Sharon, RHIA who is Chief of Health Administration Service at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center. “We are a comprehensive health care service. So, a veteran can receive services from start to finish in a full array of comprehensive health care.”
She believes the confusion often occurs for veterans who may think their private health insurance is better than what the VA can provide.
Ms. Sharon describes the role of the modern-day VA as being an advocate for veterans’ medical needs.
“All the way from primary care visits to mental health. We have women care services. We offer specialty services in many different lines,” Ms. Sharon said.
Mr. Garza added, “Veterans are missing out. If they don’t come to the VA. They don’t know what they’re missing out on.”
Veterans can come to the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center Monday Through Friday from 8 a.m. To 4:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary. They just need to bring their military discharge and any financial paperwork.