COVID-19: What Every Veteran Needs to Know
Call centers at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and some VA health facilities are currently experiencing very high numbers of calls. They ask that you use their online tools for the following questions:
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s coronavirus COVID-19?
The CDC defines COVID-19 as a new type of coronavirus (or “novel coronavirus”). COVID-19 belongs to a large family of viruses that are common in people and different animal species. On rare occasions, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and then spread from person-to-person. This is how COVID-19 started. Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
To learn more about COVID-19, prevention steps, guidance for high-risk groups, travelers and more, visit the CDC.
What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you have a fever, coughing and shortness of breath, call your VA medical center before going to a clinic, urgent care or emergency room. You can also send your doctor a secure message through My HealtheVet.
Contacting the VA first helps us protect you, medical staff and other patients.
If you’re not sure about your symptoms, the VA’s Annie text messaging service can help you monitor them and advise you when to contact your VA care team or your facility’s advice nurse.
The messages also provide general wellness tips and steps you can take to protect yourself. You can subscribe to Annie coronavirus precautions messages yourself, or ask your VA care team to assign it to you.
Visit the CDC to learn more about the symptoms of COVID-19.
What’s the VA doing to deal with COVID-19?
The VA’s emergency management coordination cell (EMCC) have started clinical screenings at all VA facilities. Learn about VA’s public health response
Can I be tested for COVID-19?
Testing is based on many factors, including the severity of symptoms, other existing illnesses or conditions, possible exposure and other criteria. The VA health facilities have been testing Veterans who meet the testing criteria provided by the CDC. There’s no charge for testing.
What should I do if I have an upcoming VA health appointment?
For routine appointments, the VA recommends using telehealth (phone or video) for your scheduled appointment. You can also cancel and reschedule your appointment for a later date.
If you have a nonurgent elective procedure scheduled, the VA may contact you to cancel or reschedule for a later date. Note: Urgent and emergent procedures will continue as scheduled.
To change your in-person appointment to a telehealth visit:
- Use Secure Messaging through My HealtheVet to send a message to your provider.
- Use the VA appointments tool to request a telehealth appointment online. (Available only for some types of health services.)
Once your provider schedules a telehealth appointment, you’ll receive a VA Video Connect link (or another approved video meeting tool). Learn more about VA Video Connect.
What should I do if I have a community care appointment?
If you have a scheduled appointment with a community care (non-VA) provider, please contact them directly before going.
Some community care providers may be affected by closures, limited services, quarantining or social distancing based on the CDC and local health department guidelines. If your appointment is canceled, work with your community care provider to reschedule.
The VA is extending authorizations for community care referrals, so you can continue to work with your community care provider to meet your needs. If you have concerns about rescheduling your community care appointment, send a secure message to your VA provider.
Can I get a referral to see a community care provider if I can’t be seen at VA?
During the pandemic, the VA is continuing to make community care referrals when needed. Because of COVID-19, they are currently prioritizing referrals for urgent or other medically necessary care.
Note: Some community care providers may be affected by closures, limited services, quarantining or social distancing based on the CDC and local health department guidelines.
Appointments to see community care providers need to be approved by the VA (except for emergency and urgent care needs). Getting a referral depends on eligibility, type of care and other factors.
At this time, community care eligibility requirements haven’t changed. Learn about eligibility for community care
How do I reschedule or cancel my upcoming VA appointment?
Sign in to your VA.gov account to reschedule or cancel your appointments online.
Note: Some clinics are advising patients to not reschedule or schedule new appointments for some types of routine care, as they develop more guidance on safely providing care to protect patients and staff. Because this is a rapidly changing situation, the best way to get the most up-to-date facility information is to check your local VA health facility’s website. Find a VA location.
View, schedule or cancel a VA appointment online
Please sign in to use this service. Try signing in with your DS Logon, My HealtheVet, or ID.me account. If you don’t have an account, you can create one on the MyHealtheVet website.
What if I tried to call my clinic, and I can’t get through?
To help the VA address the most urgent needs first, they ask that you use one of their online tools for routine or nonurgent concerns. You can:
- Use Secure Messaging. You can send a secure message to your provider about any health concern or question.
- Try health chat (limited availability). You may be able to use health chat if your primary VA health facility is part of the VA health chat pilot. See if you’re able to use health chat
What should I do if I need to refill my prescription?
Please request refills as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days before you run out of your current prescription. And please check that the VA has your current mailing address on file in your VA.gov profile so they can send your prescriptions to the right address. If you need to, you can sign in to change your address online.
Note: If you currently get your prescription sent to you by mail, you’ll continue to receive your refill requests as normal.
You’ll need to actively request your refill in one of these ways:
- Online with the My HealtheVet prescription refill and tracking tool.
- Through your mobile device with our new Rx Refill mobile app.
- By phone. Call the number on your prescription label for your VA pharmacy’s automated refill line or to speak to a pharmacy representative. Be sure to have your Rx number from the prescription label and Social Security number ready.
- By mail. Complete the prescription refill form that came with your medication. Mail the form to the VA pharmacy address listed on your medication paperwork.
For questions about your prescriptions, send a secure message to your healthcare team through My HealtheVet.
What should I do if I run out of refills on my prescription?
You can request a prescription renewal in one of these ways:
- Call the number on your prescription label. Be sure to have your Rx number from the prescription label and Social Security number ready. For some medications, your healthcare team may need to contact you before you can get more medication.
- Send a secure message to your provider through My HealtheVet.
- Call your local VA medical center.
Find a VA location
What if my prescription renewal requires an in-person evaluation?
If you need to renew a prescription for a medication that requires an in-person evaluation, the VA has temporarily updated their policy to allow this type of evaluation through telehealth (phone or video) appointment.
To request a telehealth appointment for a prescription renewal, send a secure message to your provider through My HealtheVet.
Can I use emergency care?
If you’re experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest ER.
If you have an urgent care need, the VA asks that you contact them first. You can use secure messaging or call your facility’s advice nurse before going to a clinic or walk-in urgent care facility. By not using the ER for nonmedical emergencies, you can help the VA protect you, medical staff and other patients, as well as help address critical medical needs first during this period of COVID-19 outbreak.
Symptoms that may need emergency medical (immediate) attention include:
- Chest pain
- Numbness or tingling in your arms or on one side of your body
- Severe fever or violent vomiting
- Bleeding that doesn’t stop
Symptoms that may need urgent care attention (within 24 to 48 hours) include:
- Sore throat, earache
- Sprains or strained muscles from sports or exercise
- Minor cuts and injuries
Note: For emergencies, you don’t need a referral or approval from the VA to go to an ER in your community (an ER that’s not a VA facility).
I don’t have symptoms, but I feel anxious and overwhelmed. What can I do?
First, it’s important to know you’re not alone, and the VA is here for you. Concerns about COVID-19 can be stressful for many people. You can take steps to manage stress and get support.
- Stay connected and healthy. Stay in touch with friends and family by phone and social media. Follow your normal routine as much as possible, and get enough sleep and exercise.
- Keep your existing mental health appointments. If you currently have regular sessions, you can change them to telehealth (phone or video) appointments by sending your provider a secure message through My HealtheVet.
- Ask for a new mental health appointment. If you need same-day mental healthcare—or want to request a new appointment. Find a VA location.
How do I know if my VA health facility is still open for regular appointments?
Because this is a rapidly changing situation, the best way to get the most up-to-date facility information is to check your local VA health facility’s website. Find a VA location.
Can I visit a patient at a VA facility?
The VA is currently following CDC guidelines and limiting visitors for patients receiving care in a VA facility, including a hospital, nursing home, or spinal cord injury and disorder center. Limiting outside visitors helps protect older Veterans and those who already have health issues.
The VA does make an exception for Veterans who qualify as a “compassionate case.” This means the Veteran is in their last stage of life in a hospice unit and you can only visit that Veteran’s room.
Visit the CDC website for more tips on stopping community spread.
Will my benefit payment be delayed because of COVID-19?
The VA is currently processing all benefit payments as normal. Benefit payments include payments for disability, pension, education payments to your school and more.
How can Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, help?
If you are not receiving your benefits or have been denied benefits, we are here. COVID-19 is a major “distraction” for the government but should in no way impact the needs of those Veterans in need of benefits today – and tomorrow. To date, Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, is practicing the guidelines of the CDC (social distancing), but still able to seamlessly serve both new and existing Veterans’ Disability cases. If you’d like to learn more about filing a Veterans disability claim, feel free to contact us at 877.526.3455 or Fight4Vets.com for your free evaluation. We hope this post has been helpful, but for more information about your individual benefits and claims, please be in contact.