Brown County Browser: What every veteran should know; Part 4

Greetings to all reading this article; we are only a few days away from the 243rd anniversary of America’s birth. Less than 30 days ago we marked the 75th anniversary of the 156,000 allied troops who made the treacherous D-Day invasion; many of those men were from right here in Brown County and hundreds more from greater Minnesota.

Marvin Haberman of New Ulm and the former owner of Marv’s Barber Shop next to Mowan’s Bar was our last surviving D-Day soldier. Marv passed last winter just 20-days shy of turning 103 years old. There are now thousands of D-Day Veteran’s graves throughout Minnesota as over 15 million soldiers returned home to America after the war to marry, start a family and a business, and live to be very old men, just like Marvin Haberman. I wonder if there are any Revolutionary War Veterans buried here in Minnesota. Naw, how could there be; Minnesota didn’t become a State until 83 years after the Revolution started.

Strange but true, a Massachusetts soldier who knew George Washington and fought alongside Ethan Allen at the Battle of Ticonderoga is buried in Winona’s Woodlawn Cemetery. The 15-year-old lad named Stephen Taylor drew up his arms and enlisted in the Continental Army and fought courageously for the Colonies, and for the Western Frontier which he would eventually enter and live to be 100 years before passing in 1831. Taylor is the only known Revolutionary War Veteran to be buried in Minnesota. But so much for reminiscing our past, I should tell you about the Veterans Administration’s new Community Health Care program called the Mission Act.

Why is it called the “Mission Act” you might ask? Although I can’t find a reference to it, I believe the name stems from another great war fought by Americans. That would be the Civil War, and found imbedded in President Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address is this phrase which the VA identifies as their motto: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan,” President Lincoln affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who perished on the battlefield.

It has been the VA’s mission to care for our Veterans, their widows, and their orphans and therefore I believe the Mission Act follows that strong lineage of care from 1865 to present day. The Mission Act is designed to allow Veterans to receive health care from civilian physicians, where and when they chose.

Some of the criteria includes being enrolled in VA health care; that means having filled out an application and being approved for VA care. One must have seen a VA physician in the past 24 months; that does not include compensation exams for disability claims, it means seeing your VA primary care doctor. You must live more than 30 driving minutes from a VA primary care physician to see your civilian doctor. Or 60 driving minutes from a VA specialty care physician.

Living in the 56073 zip code area almost guarantees that you are 30 diving minutes from the VA clinic in Mankato, but you’re also more than 60 driving minutes from any VA specialty care (i.e. orthopedics, podiatry, optical, oncology, etc.) physician.

Are there copayments? Of course there are, that’s how our civilian health care system works, and so with the Mission Act that will provide access to civilian physicians there will be copayments, even if you don’t have a copayment when you go solely to the VA for care.

Oh, and if you like Mayo doctors, find someone else because they won’t sign on to be a provider under the Mission Act, and that goes for Avera in western Minnesota too.

The Mission Act is also our new mission to help Veterans obtain health care where and when they want it. We’re ready to fight for your rightful benefits; all of them from health care to widow’s pensions, we are here for you.