Spark Matsunaga (former Senator of Hawaii) Department of Veterans Affairs is located at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. With The VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (VAPIHCS) Honolulu serving approximately 127,600 veterans in Hawaii AND the Pacific Islands I commend the work they have done to help the Veterans of the Armed Forces.
My son served in the Armed Forces and he was on the USS Kitty Hawk in the Persian Gulf when the war broke out on March 19, 2003. It was his 23rd Birthday.
When he came home the summer of 2006 he started the process for VA Benefits so he could go back to school. With all the military red tape he finally is able to go to school in this Fall Semester. He had a job but they closed and he lost his medical benefits.
But wait! He has VA Medical Benefits! "GOOD THING" because he got so sick yesterday morning that he called MOM. He WAS really sick to call me and say, "Mom, I'm really sick and I'm scared". We immediately picked him up and rushed him to Tripler Army Medical Center Emergency Room.
FOUR HOURS LATER!!: And watching everyone walk in the door with children with coughs and go ahead of my son. My son mumbled something about Active Duty first, Active Duty Dependents second.....and Veterans ....LAST! What kind of protocol is that? The lady at the front desk said that there is no such thing as first come first serve and said the severity of the case goes first.
HOW DO THEY DETERMINE who goes first WITHOUT seeing a doctor to determine the severity? My son could hardly talk....he was in a fetal position in the back of our car from severe stomach cramping. So bad that his teeth chattered so hard from chills his jaw hurt. So bad I was afraid he would go through a seizure (he has a history of periodic grand mal seizures). So bad I had to talk to register him.
My son's cramping got a little better during those FOUR hours.....but the lady at the front said the "NORMAL" waiting period is up to six hours. For who? Vets? WE LEFT with the intention of just going to our civilian hospital and paying for my son. My son declined.
This is the ONLY facility Veterans can go to for "emergency" care and I was very disappointed in the care for Veterans. My son wasn't the only one.....I watched closely as two other older gentleman who were retirees were going through the same thing.
I have been a military dependent for the majority of my life and never knew of this protocol. I have heard "war stories" about how the Veterans of the Armed Forces do NOT get that attention they need. I heard of the men coming back from war who don't get the care they need from the mental health issues they receive after going through traumatic situations they encountered in war zones.
I just got off the phone with my son. He's a little better. But what about the rest of the VETERAN'S? What about ....next time? Maybe he'll be lucky and be able to make an appointment for a regular office visit in the VA section of the hospital.
Following is informtation that may help a vet or even a honorably discharged war vet get a step ahead of the game to VA Benefits.
VA Pacific Islands Health Care System (phone: 433-0600)
Health Care Patient Advocates : The Patient Advocate is located at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center and serves as a liaison between patients and staff when a Service issue cannot be resolved. The Patient Advocate is Barbara Morgan and she may be reached by calling (808) 433-0126. Her office is located at: 459 Patterson Road, Ambulatory Care Center, Room 1B08
National Headquarters Info for Hawaii Office of Veterans Services:
459 Patterson Road
E-Wing, Room 1-A103
Honolulu, HI 96819-1522
(808) 433-0385 fax
Other Helpful Links:
- Other VA Facilities on Oahu
- Old Timer Speaks Out (Veteran's Blog)
- State of Hawaii - Office of Veteran's Services
- VETERANS CEMETERIES on Oahu
- Senator Daniel Kahikina Akaka- Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
- National Coalition for Homeless Vets in Hawaii
- Congresswoman Maizie K. Hirono -Military and Veterans
Homelessness is also very high on the list for aide for Veterans in Hawaii and after reading many stories on this subject I will do many follow up stories as well. One important factor you Veterans should know about....if you are a Disabled Veteran and have a service related disability ...you are exempt from the VA Loan Funding Fee. Did you know that? First time use of the VA Guaranteed Loan the funding fee is 2.15% and second time use is 3.35 and of course it is lower is putting money down. The Hawaii VA Loan amount is currently capped at $625,500 (including the funding fee)
Yes, Active Duty Personnel are to be commended. My son was Active Duty and served and I am proud of him. And...yes, the Veterans of the Armed Forced are to be commended and NEED to be remembered as well.
My son is a Veteran and I am proud of him still.
Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman is a Realtor-Associate with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocating to Hawaii, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents. Website: www.hawaiihomesmarket.com