Guidelines for emergency care in non-VA facilities

SUN Columnist

VA guidelines and recommendations for emergency care in non-VA facilities are summarized as follows:

A medical emergency is when you have an injury or illness that is so severe that without immediate treatment, the injury or illness threatens your health or life. In your best judgment, if you believe your health or life is in danger, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

The nearest VA medical center must be notified as soon as possible, within 72 hours, so you as the veteran are better aware of services the VA may limit payment for. You, your family, friends or hospital staff may make this notification. Provide the VA with information about your emergency event and services being provided to you. Ask the VA for guidance on how they will consider reimbursing these emergency charges on your behalf so you can plan accordingly. The veteran bears the ultimate responsibility of VA notification.

If the doctor wants to admit you into the hospital because the admission is an emergency, the veteran is still required to notify the VA. If a VA bed is available and the veteran can be safely transferred, the veteran must move to the VA hospital. Refusal will result in VA not paying for any further care.

Note: If the veteran leaves the emergency room prior to being treated by a physician, the VA may not consider claims for that emergency event, and the veteran may be liable for some or all resulting ambulance and emergency room charges, regardless of veteran eligibility.

Payment by the VA depends on VA eligibility. The VA may pay all, some or none of the charges, based on the veteran’s service-connected conditions, or non-service-connected conditions. The veteran may also have copays based on VA enrollment. Sometimes the extent of healthcare services reimbursable by the VA is limited by federal law.

A veteran’s enrollment in the VA HealthCare System may affect eligibility for emergency care at VA’s expense.

For more information, contact the  VAMC Albuquerque emergency notification at (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.

The office of Archuleta County Veterans Service Officer provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs program assistance, benefits and claims. This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the State of Colorado.

Further information 

For further information on VA benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment at home or in the office so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.

I will be out of the office on the following days for regularly scheduled meetings:

• Vets4Vets: Tuesday mornings, 9 a.m.-noon.

• Arboles Community Center, first and third Thursdays. Back around 2 p.m.

• Pagosa Outreach Connection, 8:30-10 a.m. every Thursday.

• Home visits/Pine Ridge outreach, second and fourth Thursdays, back at 2 p.m.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and email is The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. If the office is closed, I am out assisting veterans; leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

Veterans’ groups

The following veterans’ groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday at 10 a.m., Quality Resort.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: every other Monday at 6 p.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte: 731-1025.

• Point Man Ministries’ Breakfast for Veterans: 8:30 a.m. each Tuesday at Buffalo Inn, 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Vincent: 731-2769,

This story was posted on May 22, 2014.