VA Boston Healthcare System
Reach Out and Call Someone
As servicemen and women return from combat, VA Boston Healthcare System (VA BHS) is developing new and unique outreach initiatives to reach them and engage them in VA health care. In addition to hiring a full-time Outreach Coordinator to organize activities, VA BHS’s OEF/OIF/OND program is piloting the use of a new initiative, in collaboration with the Call Center staff, to reach recently returned combat Veterans. VA BHS staff regularly attends demobilizations throughout Massachusetts to educate returning Veterans about VA health care, and to enroll them in our system. However, not all Veterans choose to schedule health care appointments after enrolling, and oftentimes end up not taking advantage of the wide range of VA care available to them.
OEF/OIF/OND staff recognized this as an opportunity to do further outreach to these Veterans. “We understand that many returning combat veterans are overwhelmed with readjusting back to civilian life, with health care put on a back burner,” said Dr. Mel Tapper, OEF/OIF/OND Program Manager, “this initiative is a way of reminding them of their very important health benefit and encouraging them to come in for care.”
The pilot project began by identifying large groups of combat Veterans who had enrolled at a recent outreach event, but never followed up to schedule an appointment. The OEF/OIF/OND team identified 2 recently-returned units, the 182nd Infantry Battalion of the Massachusetts National Guard, and the 1/25th Marines. These units had returned from Afghanistan in November of 2011 and January 2012 respectively. Approximately 750 Veterans from the two battalions were eligible for health care at VA BHS; one hundred thirty of those Veterans chose VA BHS for their health care and enrolled in the system, but did not make appointments to come in.
With the pilot project in place, the Call Center representatives began making telephone contacts to all of these Veterans who chose VA BHS as their preferred healthcare system. If, after speaking with a Call Center representative, the Veteran agreed to use the VA for health care, a referral was sent to the site selected, and an initial appointment was scheduled with Primary Care. At this point 37 of those contacted now have appointments with a Primary Care Practitioner.
This initiative will continue to grow as more combat Veterans return home, and as the OEF/OIF/OND Program identifies prior combat Veterans from the National Guard, Reserves and regular military who have enrolled, but have not yet had a VA medical appointment.
If you are a recently returned combat Veteran, or know of one, who has not yet made an appointment with a VA Primary Care Physician, please contact the Patient Call Center at 1-800-865-3384.
VA Boston Healthcare System welcomes you home, and looks forward to caring for you as you transition back into civilian life. Visit our website for more information on the health care available to OIF/OEF/OND Veterans.