Letter: Doctor showed little interest in veteran
On behalf of all veterans, I would like to offer the following comments about the care I received at the Reno Veterans Affairs Medical Center today (March 28).
A vast majority of the veterans who receive treatment at the Reno VAMC were placing their lives on the line, at the request of our country, so that the staff of the VAMC could enjoy the jobs (and pay) they now receive in a free country.
A lot of us were doing this when a lot of the staff was not even a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. When I first served in Vietnam in 1962 and 1963, I was given a U.S. diplomatic passport and told that if I got caught, the U.S. government didn’t know me. When I came home, I was told that I really wasn’t there (in Vietnam, once again at our nation’s request. When I returned that time, after no shower or change of clothes for three months and 72+ hours without sleep, I was greeted at the airport with jeers, derision, being spit at and called a “baby killer.” I still felt that I had defended the American way of life. I retired after 22 years service in the U.S. Army and have always felt proud of my contribution to my country.
I have been receiving medical care at Reno VAMC for approximately 17 years. The care I have received has been, with very few exceptions, excellent and provided by a staff that has been friendly, caring, professional and respectful. I drive a round trip of 100 miles each time I go to the VAMC for an appointment; many others drive considerably further.
On this day (March 28), I had an appointment at the dermatology clinic. I was called in within five minutes of my appointed time. I thought this was great, as I know that clinic is extremely busy. The doctor had just started to talk to me when there was a knock at the door. It was a person who said they just stopped by to say hello to the doctor and see how she was doing.
I don’t know the doctor I was seeing by name since she never introduced herself. She told me she would be just a minute to say hi to this person (who she said was a doctor). After 10 minutes, I was getting edgy, after 15 minutes, I was getting mad and after 20 minutes of hearing them laughing and talking outside the door, I was pissed. I then got up and left to get checked out.
While I was checking out, the doctor came up and said she could see me now! All of this time I foolishly thought she was already supposed to be seeing me. The clerk than said I was canceling the appointment since I refused to go back in. They asked if I wanted to reschedule and that there was about a one-year wait, so I just said no. I just wanted out of there before I completely blew my top.
I feel that not just myself but all veterans deserve respect. We do not deserve to be treated like second- or third-class citizens. If it weren’t for us, you folks would have to find other work. We are not having our medical care given to us, as I have heard stated before by some VAMC employees. We prepaid for it when we served out country.
I also do not feel that I canceled my appointment; I feel the doctor did that when she stood outside the door socializing instead of treating the patient in her office. Our time is important too! Therefore, I feel the doctor should reschedule my appointment, not me.
I also feel that if this is apparently the way she feels about treating veterans, perhaps she is in the wrong line of work.
All veterans deserve respect and should be treated respectfully!
SFC SAMMY W. JEPSON
U.S. Army (Retired)