Chris Dorsey, a former Army specialist, says after he was turned away from a VA clinic in Lawrenceville, Georgia, he decided to record his experience at a second facility using his smartphone camera.
When he reaches the check-in counter at the Oakwood Community Based Outpatient Clinic, Dorsey informs the clerk that he’s transferring from the office in Athens, and needs an appointment.
The VA employee responds to him by saying, “We’re not accepting any new patients — not this clinic.” The receptionist also doesn’t provide any additional information, assistance or follow-up guidance for treatment.
Dorsey, who served as a cavalry scout from 2001 to 2005 and deployed to Iraq for most of 2003, says the VA paid for him to see a civilian psychologist a few years ago. But when his symptoms recently began to worsen, he says he went looking for a clinic close to home.
Now he tells the Navy Times, his only remaining VA option is the medical center in Atlanta, more than 50 miles from where he lives.
VA Choice, a program introduced last year, allows vets like Dorsey to see a civilian therapist. But apparently neither of the employees at the clinics that turned him away mentioned this option to Dorsey.
“It’s devastating for me to go in to two places and say I’m here to get help and they are essentially saying ‘I’m not going to help you,'” Dorsey said.
Fellow veterans who live in Dorsey’s area say the Oakwood clinic is state-of-the-art and for the most part has caring employees but some are not very helpful and the clinic is often overwhelmed by the number of patients it serves.
As far as the VA Choice card, those familiar with the program say there are lots of doctors who won’t accept it or who just don’t understand it.
The VA itself does admit to having problems implementing the program. Roughly 50,000 appointments were reportedly made since May, but the VA says it received more than a half million inquiries about the program.
Dorsey says he wanted to make the video because he knows there are so many vets out there like him who are suffering and he wanted people to see what they encounter when trying to seek help at a VA clinic.