“We Have a Process” or one TG/Intersexed/Lesbian/Decorated Veteran’s experience with the VHA

I would like to welcome the newest member of our writing team, Lisa O’Connor. In her first post with us, she tells us her story of dealing with the bureaucracy of the Veteran’s Health Administration. Thanks for sharing with us, Lisa!

New VA motto: “In VHA, Nos Pedicabo tu Cruda.” or “In the VHA, We Will Fuck You Raw.”
Very appropriate motto. Not necessarily needed, as anyone who has dealt with the VHA will attest, but it is kinda cool, almost akin to, “Spes, omnes qui ibi intra, – “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” (TY Dante)

Truly, everyone who works there, with a few exceptions, I believe suffer from the most baleful, beastly and blighting case of hemorrhoids. It must be an occupational hazard. There is definitely a lot of sighing to be heard and never any eye contact. Oh, sighing when in person, “No! There is a process!” when on the phone – doing exactly what you were told to do by the sighing clerk earlier in the day.

Today’s real-life example contains many “SIGHs,” as the experience was in-person. Had the experience been via phone, I would have heard, “No! There is a process, Ma’am!”

Today’s Real Life example: “ O’Connor? !”

Me: Smiling, “Hi, I’m Lisa O, 3PM with Dr Kumbarberrycoast. My last four are XXXX.”

VHA employee: “ What’s your name?”

Me: Biting bottom lip, “O’Connor? Lisa? Last four XXXX.”

VHA employee: “ What’s the last four of your social security number?”

Me: Continues to bite lower lip but with different teeth, “XXXX?”

VHA employee: “ First name?”

Me: Confused, “Lisa?”

VHA employee: “Last four of your Social?”

Me: Pouting, “XXXX???”

VHA employee: “You have an appointment???”

Me: Pouting and biting lip, “Yep! 3PM with Dr Kumbarberrycoast. ”

VHA employee: “ For what time?”

Me: Pure pout-mode, “3PM. Is… something wrong?”

VHA employee: “ What’s your complete social security number?”

Me: A flash of murderous rage which I instantly – and miraculously – manage to self-squash, “XXX-XX-XXXX.” (At this point, approximately 15 minutes has elapsed since my name was first called so I could sign in. Meanwhile, my severely arthritic knee is on fire. This after I have just gone through Mephatopheles’ version of “Who’s on first?” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sShMA85pv8M)

VHA employee: “ You are 10 minutes late. Hold on…… “

Me: Now hopeful, “OK!”

VHA employee: “ I don’t know if she will see you. Your chart is in the ‘No-Show’ pile.

Wait one… “

Me: Now I have a heretofore never before seen expression of embarrassment, anger, fear, resignation, sorrow, indignation; did I say embarrassment? “Um…”

VHA employee: “ She will see you.”

N.B.: At no time did the clerk look at me.

Me: “Um, do I go somewhere or wait to be taken to her office or stay here… ?”

VHA employee: “ Take a seat! Someone will be out to get you in a minute ”

Me: As though the thorn was just removed from my paw, “OK! Thank you very much for your help. ”

VHA employee: “”

N.B.: This is for the second specialist visit for a potentially life ending condition, first detected over six weeks ago. No hyperbole. The VHA is quick and efficient if anything!

I have had either that exact dialogue, or a close variation, scores of times, in three different VHA facilities – usually being dragged there by my GF or a dear friend as I do not enjoy the behavior/atmosphere there.

(I’m not sure I am really that lucky to have such caring friends.)

The atmosphere/behavior not only tweaks my PTSD, I have openly wept, in the local VHA, thinking “This is the treatment our returning soldiers/heroes are receiving? The ones with limbs blown off by IEDs? The ones with TBI? The ones with PTSD? The ones who saw their best buddy’s head blown to pieces?”

Thinking, “You… dare… treat… our… soldiers… like… maggot… ridden… pieces… of… meat?”
I have never been ashamed to be a decorated military retiree.
I am slowly becoming one. Let’s not forget, it is a process.

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