A Thought About Our Warriors and Veterans

On the TV show Navy SEALs, a disabled SEAL veteran tried to get treatment for a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) at the VA hospital. The doctor could not prescribe anything as there was no record of TBI in his medical history file. In the show, the SEAL went to his truck and…committed suicide.

This is not a comment on the VA, their doctors or their procedures.

It is comment on relevant information in a patient’s file.

Every Spring, I work in the local county VA assistance office. I set up appointments, do filing, and submit paperwork and other clerical work. One of the fascinating parts of my task is meeting and talking to Veterans and their family members as they wait to see the county Veteran Service Officers. It is a fun and rewarding time. It is also a bit disconcerting as I watch people in need of help stymied by their medical history and lack of paperwork.

Many of my Veterans need to either open claims or expand on the ones they have. (To be sure most are sincere; there are modicums of charlatans trying to scam the system. We do not make judgments.)

This process is long, drawn out and tedious. It can take years before a judgment is rendered either way.

The key thing for all Veterans is establishing medical and military history that would substantiate their claims. The Service Officers are trained and expert in the process.

The Service Officers emphasize the need to establish medical and military history for a claim.

To be honest, many of the (potential) disabled veterans have no idea how to do that.

As a point of information, a service member who served in Vietnam is now ‘presumed’ to have been exposed to Agent Orange during their time there. There was an Air Force pilot who flew both transports and gunships for over two years in the area. In order to establish his claim (he had related symptoms to Agent Orange exposure), he needed to prove that he was ‘in theater’. By constructing his time in theater and where his plane landed and was rearmed, he was able to show photographs of his ‘hootch’ that proved he was in country. His claim was approved.

Using this pilot’s experience, I wondered if there were a personal health history of each service member as part of his file that might help establish the true facts.

The Inner Reach Health Information Gathering System (HiGS) allows the patient/service member to record their personal health history and exposures in a digital format that can be part of their personal medical history file. HiGS is extensive and covers an extraordinary range and depth of health issues, histories and risks. These can be found in the HiGS Warriors and Veterans Health Issues collection of health risk assessments (HRAs) in 3 categories: Major Physical Traumas of War; 2) Major ENVIRONMENTAL illnesses of Wars; and 3) Emotional Miseries of War. They each include companion videos toward further understanding.

Having a history established by such a powerful tool as HiGS would certainly provide historical and relevant patient biographical data that might rally round a Veteran in need of help.

I continue to support my fellow Veterans at the local county assistance office. I wonder if incorporating HiGS would help them establish their medical data history and Health Biography that might better assist them.

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