Editor, After completing 23 years of active military service in the United States Army, I retired in 1988 and became a member of the inactive reserves.
I served all of you in Vietnam and all over the world. I looked forward to using the medical benefits for my spouse and myself that I was promised.
Two years passed. Military retirees were asked to report to Fort Stewart to receive a briefing on the Tri-Care Heath Plan. Our promised lifetime of free medical benefits will cost each of us $460 a year.
We would be placed into teams. We would be seen by the same doctor at Winn Army Hospital. We would wait no longer than three days for an appointment. Lab results would be provided quickly, and we would have a patient representative to help us if we needed any assistance. Everything appeared to be anticipated and well planned, except for retirees paying for our free medical benefits.
The current situation is this: CHAOS! There are teams. When calling for an appointment we are often sent to the emergency room. We wait hours for a 15-minute session with someone in a white coat.
If lucky enough to get an appointment, there is no assigned doctor. Waiting could be two to three weeks, being seen by someone irritable who is in need of sleep, has dirty, long fingernails, wearing scrubs and can barely speak English.
We are passed around from one clinic to another. A doctor-patient relationship is never established. It’s more like that of a pimp/prostitute. Each visit, a patient starts by explaining why we’re there. We are not called or informed of lab results. By the time lab results are pried from them, you’re likely to be terminal. One should have their “last will” ready and ensure funeral arrangements are current. Try to contact the patient representative. This person is not in, may not be real, and the sign saying be back in 30 minutes has been there for days. Who do you turn to? It’s not the hospital commander, sergeant major or the inspector general office. They will just refer you to the patient representative. We shouldn’t be surprised that over 1,000 veterans are dying daily?
In closing, the Army’s motto “an army of one” must refer to retirees” and is likely based upon the assumption you could be the only one left alive. Everything that I have written here is true, and has happened to my spouse, and me and is still going on. I see similarities with what the Nazi’s of WW II told Jews as they were herded off to receive their benefits. We have been lied to.
First sergeant (retired)