Veterans who are seeking medical care have the same options as any American; however, many choose to turn to veteran-specific hospitals and medical centers for their care. These facilities are run by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, better known as the VA. The Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated health care system in the U.S. and is comprised of 153 medical centers, outpatient clinics, community living centers, veteran centers, and domiciliaries.
The hospitals and medical centers that are part of the VA system offer a full-range of medical services—surgery, critical care, physical therapy, orthopedics, oncology, mental health care, and dental and vision care—and treat a wide range of illnesses, including mesothelioma. Some VA hospitals also offer advanced services such as organ transplants and plastic surgery.
Veterans’ healthcare facilities serve both men and women and eligibility for treatment at a VA hospital is based solely on active military service in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Those individuals who served in the Merchant Marines during WWII are also eligible. Reservists and National Guard members who were called to active duty by a Federal Executive Order may qualify for VA health care benefits as well and eligibility is also not limited to those who served in combat. WWI or WWII veterans from allied countries may also be eligible for treatment at a Veterans Administration hospital. Other groups who provided military service to the U.S. may also be eligible for care through the system. (Refer to www.va.gov for particulars.)
Some of the hospitals in the VA healthcare system include:
Albany VA Medical Center
Part of the Upstate New York VA Healthcare Network, the Albany Medical Center (also known as the Stratton Medical Center) serves vets in 22 counties of upstate New York, western Massachusetts, and Vermont. The facility offers specialized services including cardiac catheterization, cardiac rehabilitation, nuclear medicine, radiation oncology, stereotactic radiosurgery, hospice/palliative care, adult day health care, post-traumatic stress disorder, compensated work therapy, memory clinic, geriatric assessment, nursing home and respite care. It is also a designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Manhattan Campus of the NY VA System
This campus is located on East 23rd Street on the east side of the city. This facility offers a daycare for veterans' children, primary care programs, free "hoptel" units providing lodging to eligible vets, a homeless veteran' treatment program, mental health services, a pharmacy, and readjustment services for recently returning war vets. Women's health is also specifically addressed.
San Francisco VA Medical Center
This San Francisco hospital is a large facility that offers a wealth of services for eligible veterans ranging from audiology and cancer care to visual impairment services and everything in between. There's also a homeless center on site as well as a post traumatic stress disorder clinic and a psychosocial rehab and recovery center. The San Francisco VA hospital serves an 8-county area of Northern California. Affiliated community-based clinics are in Ukiah, Eureka, San Bruno, and Santa Rosa.
Dallas VA Center
This facility is located on an 84-acre campus in downtown Dallas, employing more than 3,600 staff members and utilizing about 1,000 volunteers. It consists of a 289-bed acute care Medical Center as well as a transitional care unit, domiciliary care unit, a spinal cord injury center, a small telemetry unit, and a psychiatric residential rehab treatment program.
Fayetteville VA Medical Center
This VA center serves veterans in 19 counties in southeastern North Carolina and 2 counties in northeastern South Carolina. Consisting of one main center and three outpatient clinics, the Fayetteville VA Medical Center offers an extensive range of treatments in its primary care facility as well as extended care and rehab, specialty care including oncology, a spinal cord injury program, and a women's health program.
Puget Sound VA Medical Center
The Puget Sound Healthcare System consists of two divisions. The American Lake facility in Tacoma, which opened after World War I as a neuro-psychiatric facility, is now a multi-care facility, affiliated with the University of Washington. The Seattle division was built after World War II and includes the VA's first bone marrow transplant unit, a geriatric research, education and evaluation unit, a same-day surgical unit for outpatient procedures, a substance abuse treatment facility; and a spinal cord injury center.