Interview with Mr. Hackney Concerning the Medical or Healthcare Issues Among
Claire- Have you ever served in the line of duty?
Ron-I have never served in direct combat.
Claire- If so what was your branch of service?
Ron- I served in the United States Coast Guard for nine years.
Claire- What are you personally in charge of or responsible for?
Ron- I am not personally in charge of a section or service line. I am a member of the OEF/OIF
Seamless Transition Team. I am responsible for outreaching to returning combat veterans and
educating them about their benefits/entitlements.
Claire- What do you do for the veterans who have returned home after war?
Ron- I attend demobilization to educate returning combat veterans about their benefits and
entitlements available to them as combat veterans.
Claire- Are there any certain procedures that are required in order to receive medical care, or is
it just given almost as a guaranteed right?
Ron- Military veterans, including Reservists and National Guard members, who served in
combat since Nov. 11, 1998, including veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, are eligible to receive
five years of enhanced enrollment eligibility for VA health care services which provides cost-
free health care from VA for conditions that are potentially related to their service in the theater
of operations. I encourage them to enroll for VA health care now whether you need health care
services or not. VA clinicians are especially trained to evaluate combat-related illness or
injuries and health concerns.
Claire- How is it that you personally ensure that the United States government provides for the
Ron- I personally ensure that returning veteran receive their VA benefits through my outreach
efforts in the community. I outreach to several non-traditional areas in the community to reach
veterans and educate them about their benefits/entitlements.
Claire- Are the veterans receiving every opportunity for health care that they should be serving
Ron- I think that veterans are given every effort receive health care and many other benefits
available. There has to be personal contact for the message to get across, and the VA designed
National Outreach office to coordinate those efforts. The Seven Touches of Outreach is designed
to engage National Guard and Reserve Veterans at least seven times during the deployment
cycle, with targeted messages and face-to-face encounters with VA staff members.
Claire- Is there a certain medical care system, besides VA hospitals set aside for veterans?
Ron- The VA system is the only one designed with the purpose of treating veterans. TRICARE
is the health care provider for the Department of Defense (DoD). They treat not only the veteran,
but his family as well.
Claire- Is it true that it is common among returning veterans that they are not provided for and as
a result go though many mental setbacks and distress?
Ron- I disagree that it’s common for returning veterans to not receive the care they need in a
timely manner. The issue of timely service will always be a hot button topic, what constitutes
timely care is it 30, 60 or 90 days. We at the VA are held to a higher standard than other health
care providers in the private sector because of the patients we serve (military veterans). As I
mentioned early, this generation of combat veterans need personal contact for the message of
what’s available to them to get across. They tend to self medicate and just deal with their
problems internally without seeking medical assistance; even when they are aware of the
Claire- As a nation are we doing what we should to better care for our veterans?
Ron- I think that we as a nation are doing a great job with this generation of combat veterans.
When veterans returned from Vietnam it was totally different, they didn’t receive any “Welcome
Home Celebrations” or “Thank You for Your Service” from strangers in the streets. We can all
ask the question “Are you enrolled with the VA for health care”? Lastly, we can all lobby our
congressman to push for more funding for the VA, funding is and will continue to be an issue
with any health care system. Our men and women in uniform who have put “boots on the
ground” abroad deserve only the best.