OEF Or OIF: Then Off To The VA You Must Go!


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As a current or recently returned member of Operation Enduring Freedom ("OEF") or Operation Iraqi Freedom ("OIF") if there is only one more "military" task you undertake it must be that you visit your local Northport VA Medical Center and get your Post Deployment Screening - at no cost to you, and right away (see Dental Screening below). This is a must - and it is addition to any medical processing you might have been given as you were being released from active duty. In the long run it can save your life - yes, save... your... life.... At the least it will facilitate any future VA processing. I wish I had been told this when I left active duty. It took 25 years for my major illnesses to begin to crop up. And to this day (another 12 years later) I am still paying the price for not having had my Post Deployment Screening. Just Do It!

What Does It Entail - Part I

At a minimum there are seven to nine areas that will be included.

Primary Care & Depleted Uranium Screen

: most VA processing revolves around your primary care physician and consults and referrals they request for you as a result of the basic physical review they give you. We all understand the concern about Depleted Uranium - still, perhaps another topic for another day.

Women's Health Primary Care

: Northport has a Women's Health Care Clinic that comes highly recommended.

Serum Lab

: you have to have your blood work done - they do it.


: many veterans can attest to the damage their hearing has suffered, including the ever-present tinnitus.


: at the least you can expect to have your chest x-rayed.


: an eye exam with the latest equipment. Even if you think you are 20/20, it's good to have that verified.

Dental Screening

: Unless you are being separated at 100% service-connected (and I hope that is not the case), you only have 90 days after your Date of Separation to take advantage of the dental screening. And this is something you do not want to pass up - even if you ha, er, dislike having your teeth worked on as much as I do. The Northport VA Medical Center Dental Clinic is one of the best kept secrets at Northport. As a teaching facility for Stony Brook, it requires them to have the latest in equipment and to understand the latest procedures - and this they do I can assure you from personal experience.


: can you say EKG? Again with the latest of equipment and process this is a several-minute simple (for you) procedure.

Combat Veterans Case Manager

: a few minutes discussion with our (I speak with him regularly) resident social-worker can provide you with much insight into the benefits and services available to you.

What Does It Entail - Part II

Depending on the results of the physical given you by your primary care physician and your discussions with him / her, there are over a dozen additional services of which you might avail yourself. They include the following: Mental Health Clinic - do not, let me say this again, do not pass on this one; Orthopedics; Podiatry; Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Dermatology; Neurology; Infectious Diseases; GI (Gastroenterology) services; Pulmonary Function Testing; ENT (Ear / Nose / Throat), and; Urology.

Anything Else I Should Know About The VA

Yes. In addition to health care, the VA offers a full-spectrum of programs for veterans, including disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, prosthetic services, life insurance, pension, education benefits, specially adapted housing and automobile grants, and survivor and burial benefits. Many of these VA services are provided at a higher priority or on an expedited basis for the newest generation of combat veterans.

Also, the VA programs for veterans with a service-connected injury or illness apply equally to those who served in the regular active duty forces, to National Guard members, or reservists returning from federal activation.

Military Services Briefings: Military Services Briefings are designed to ensure that servicemembers are aware of their VA benefits and to provide assistance as needed. Briefings include separation and retirement seminars, pre- and post-deployment (as in parts I and II above) briefings as well as a formal Transition Assistance Program ("TAP"). For those leaving active duty due to medical problems, the outreach effort is intensified to ensure a full understanding of the VA compensation process and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

Generally briefings range from one to three hours; however, the formal TAP workshop is a three-day seminar conducted by VA, Department of Defense and the Department of Labor at military installations for personnel within 90 days of separation. It provides a number of services to assist military personnel in making a smooth transition to civilian life. For more information on TAP, ask your Combat Veterans Case Manager during your (Post-Deployment Screening) discussions with him / her. You can also find general and some detail TAP information at



--- Regards, Walt Schmidt