CHANGES IN THE VETERANS CHOICE PROGRAM

The Department of Veterans affairs is working to improve accessibility to services by changing the way they determine distance between where the Veteran lives and the nearest VA Medical Center.

In the past, it was considered a hardship if the Veteran had to travel over 50 miles to get treatment, but mileage was measured by a straight line between home and VA Med Center. Now the VA is going to use driving distance rather than the straight-line measurement. That means almost twice as many Veterans will be able to go to their own physician in the community for treatment rather than driving to a VA Med Center.

In addition, the VA is also changing the way they calculate mileage so the Veteran may travel using the fastest route instead of the shortest.

If you are a Veteran and you have a Veterans Choice Card, these changes may affect you. For questions or to obtain a Veterans Choice Program Card, call (866) 606-8190. For more information about the program, go to: www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/factsheets_and_details.asp.

 

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BETTER MONEY MANAGEMENT

I think if I had to list the top problem most people face today, it would be money issues.  Too often we struggle to rob Peter to pay Paul, and we end up too far in debt to relax and enjoy life.  Creating and managing a budget can really help you get your finances under control.  People tend to shy away from the word budget because it makes us feel like we’re living under a microscope and that we’ll never have any fun with our money.  Nothing can be further from the truth though.  Creating a budget simply helps you track where your money is going.  And when you know where it’s going, you can make a plan to send it somewhere wiser.

Some of the things you may want to consider as you work on your budget may include:

  • Set goals for what you want in life and for how you’re going to financially get there. Unfortunately, it’s easy to drop a few dollars here and a few more there, then find out you’re short at the end of the month. Once that happens and the bank adds on their overdraft charges and the credit companies add in their late fees, you just keep sinking deeper and deeper in debt.

Setting a goal helps you target what you want and how you’re going to get there.  It’s easier to not spend those dollars on impulse items when you remember the long term goals you have.  Writing your goals down can help you remember them.

  • Keep track of what you’re spending. You may be very surprised to find where your money is going! I carry a small notebook in my car to jot expenses down. That way, I have a monthly account of where my money went. This helps me focus on what I really need verses what I want. I’ve found that if I wait a bit before making a purchase, in many instances I won’t spend the money because I’ve decided that having the item isn’t worth going into debt to get it.

 

  • Think very hard about credit purchases. I have found that my credit card is great for emergencies, but in most other instances, I either don’t need the item, or I shouldn’t be buying it anyway! With interest rates ranging from 12 to 24 %, credit card debt can be very difficult to repay.

 

  • Dedicate at least a small amount every paycheck to your saving account. If you don’t make a habit of it, you won’t put the money away. It’s so much better to have that nest egg to fall back on in the event of an emergency than it is to add it to your credit card and then have to keep paying interest on it.

 

  • Be willing to make some adjustments in your lifestyle if necessary to get things back on track. I’ve been working with several veterans looking for a budget they can live with, and it doesn’t work to start out with expenses over what your income is. You may have to look for a smaller apartment, or think about getting an older car rather than the beauty you’ve been looking at, but it’ll pay off in the end with better mental health and a stronger financial status.

 

Don’t let your finances run your life.  You can make a difference in your spending habits and you can pull yourself out of debt.  It’s not easy, but it’s sure worth it!

 

PERSON-CENTERED PLANNING

Most of us feel it’s important to direct our own lives and make our own choices, especially in the area of health care.  Most entities that provide health care are now charged with developing a Person-Centered Care Plan.  That’s real progress for those of us who want our own choices respected.  Person-Centered Care basically means that the care you receive will be driven by your choices, not the traditional medical team that used to choose how care was provided.

Those old teams often determined what you needed based on the medical staff’s belief of what “was good for you.”  I don’t know about you, but, as an adult, I think I know what is best for me, based on my own beliefs and desires.  It’s good to know that it won’t be someone else who is choosing what I need based on their view of the world, but I can choose for myself what kind of care is best for me.

Not only will you be choosing what kind of care you get, but you’ll get to choose who else will be involved in making those decisions.  Focus now will be more on ensuring that you have the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision about what is going to happen to you.  The team that is assembled to assist you in understanding your choices should be looking at what your strengths are that will support your decisions, and what your personal preferences are as well.

Person-Centered Planning allows you to make the choices you want about the things that are most important to you.  When you next visit your doctor or medical center, remember that their job is to support what you want in the way of care.  It may be necessary to remind the medical establishment of this as they have many, many years of following the “what’s good for you” plan.  You are entitled to Person-Centered Planning now…don’t settle for less!

Blogging 101

I’ve been writing this blog for a while now, but I’m not real computer literate, so it’s kind of a stab in the dark for me to make it better.  I work with disabled American Veterans.  It’s a job I love and I’m am blown away every day by the courage of the men and women I serve.  Blogging is a way to connect with others who live with PTSD- post traumatic stress disorder.  I hope the blog shows what’s common with PTSD as well as some ways to help live and cope with it.

I try to draw from my own experience with PTSD to help others.  I am living comfortably most of the time now, although in the past it’s been a real nightmare.  I guess my message is that PTSD can be controlled even if it’s never “cured.”  Happiness is possible.  Interacting with others without being hypervigilant is also possible.

To all the Veterans who stepped forward to serve our country, I’d like to say Thank You.  I know that’s not enough, but it is heartfelt.