United States Department of Veterans Affairs
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Active Duty Service Memebers

Accessing VA Health Care Services

Scheduling an Appointment and Canceling Appointments

VA is committed to providing high-quality, clinically appropriate health care - when you want and need it . This commitment includes the ability to make appointments that meet your needs, with no undue waits or delays. We monitor the wait times for scheduled appointments, and give you the opportunity to complete a survey to tell us whether you received an appointment when you wanted one.

How do I schedule or cancel appointments?

Call your primary care/specialty clinic during regular business hours to:

  • make an appointment,
  • change an appointment, or
  • cancel an appointment.

If you know you are going to miss an appointment, please cancel it as soon as possible so that another Veteran can get an appointment.

What if I just walk-in without a scheduled appointment?

Although we will evaluate your condition if you decide to “walk in” to a primary care clinic without a scheduled appointment, you may have a wait, depending on the severity of your medical situation.

Social Work Services

VA social workers are assigned to all patient treatment programs, including community-based outpatient clinics . They provide social and clinical services to Veterans and their families in resolving the social, emotional, and economic problems associated with the stresses of illness.  Social workers bring skills in individual, group, and family treatment to the care of Veteran patients as they move through the continuum of care.

VA Social Work Service has responsibility for the Fisher House Program, the Temporary Lodging Program, policies on reporting suspected abuse and neglect, and family support for polytrauma patients. For more information, you can contact your local Social Work Service Office.

Interpreter Services

If you think foreign language (or American Sign Language) services would help you or your family understand your medical or health care benefits, contact your Patient Advocate.

Urgent and After-Hours Care

If you need non-emergency care, call the after-hours telephone advice care line to get advice about your health concerns.  The advice line is staffed by registered nurses who will discuss your medical concerns and work with you to determine the care you need. The registered nurse will document the telephone call in your electronic medical record and notify the appropriate medical provider. 

What if I Require a Hospital Admission?

Your VA provider will make appropriate arrangements to admit you to the nearest VA hospital that is adequately equipped and staffed to furnish the care you need.  Depending on your eligibility and other factors, VA may admit you to a non-VA hospital.

Emergency Care

What if I think I am having a medical emergency?

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You do not have to contact VA in advance.

What is a medical emergency?

A medical emergency is generally defined as a condition that would cause a prudent layperson (a person who possesses an average knowledge of health and medicine) to reasonably expect that a delay in seeking immediate medical attention would be hazardous to life or health.

Non-VA Facilities

You should go to the nearest emergency room whether in a VA or private facility If you are in an ambulance, the paramedics will usually take you to the closest emergency room.

If the doctor wants to admit me to the non-VA hospital, must I obtain approval from VA?

  • If the admission is for a medical emergency - NO
  • If the admission is not for a medical emergency - YES . You, a friend, a family member, or someone from the non-VA hospital should call the closest VA medical center and speak to the patient transfer or patient administration representative within 72 hours of your arrival at the emergency room . You will be offered a transfer to VA if a VA bed is available and you can be safely transferred.

Does my enrollment in the VA Health Care System change my coverage for emergency care?

It might. Call your local VA facility’s Enrollment Coordinator to find out what your options are.

Does my other insurance (TRICARE, Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross, etc.) change my VA coverage for emergency services?

It might. Call your local VA facility’s Enrollment Coordinator to find out what your options are.