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UNHS offers healthcare, other services for veterans - Medically Speaking, Volume One, Number Nine, 4/10/14

UNHS offers healthcare, other services for veterans

Military veterans, who have been looking for an easier way to receive VA medical services, other than traveling to Grand Junction, Colorado or Salt Lake City can actually receive those services right here in San Juan County.

Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. contracted with the Grand Junction VA Center more than four years ago to provide a wide variety of VA healthcare and other benefits. Melissa Curley, Veterans Administration Coordinator for UNHS, has been working with UNHS VA program for over four years. She said the program now has 50 patients on the roster, nearly all Vietnam War veterans. She runs the program, for Native American and Anglo patients, from her office at the UNHS Montezuma Creek Community Health Center. UNHS providers and staff can see VA patients at all four UNHS community health centers; Blanding Family Practice, Montezuma Creek, Monument Valley and Navajo Mountain. All UNHS Doctors and Physicians Assistants are eligible to treat VA patient's at all four locations.

The medical services provided through the UNHS VA program include; Medical, X-Ray Diagnostic, Physical Therapy, Pharmacy, Echo-Cardiogram, Mammography, Dexascan, Podiatry, Ultrasound, Nutrition, Counseling, Behavioral Health, Women's Health and Prenatal/OB. Other benefits the UNHS VA program can assist with include, General Benefits Information. Melissa said she can also help veterans obtain replacement documents such DD-214's, if they wish to apply for veteran's benefits. She explained that the VA prefers veterans select one VA facility as their primary facility to receive services. In this area, that can be either Grand Junction or Salt Lake City. Since UNHS has contracted with the Grand Junction facility, all appointments, paperwork and interaction from UNHS is with Grand Junction. Veterans can choose to use the Salt Lake City VA facility, but they will not be able to use the UNHS services under the VA program.

VA patients requiring major medical procedures, not available at the UNHS clinics, are referred to the

Grand Junction VA Hospital. Curley also explained veterans are placed in priority groups for services. The VA Health Benefits Administration is the agency that determines which priority group the Veteran falls under. Also, patients requiring long-term medication are given an initial ten-day supply of that medication. From then on, the medication refills are delivered by mail. She said this system has worked very well for her VA patients, and there haven't been any problems getting medications refilled on time through the mail.

Another aspect of these VA services is that veterans are required to make at least one visit each year for a

physical, or even a flu shot, to remain on the UNHS VA roster. Those visits can be made at any of the UNHS community health centers in San Juan County. Veterans are not required to visit the VA facility in Grand Junction each year.

Curley said she gets a lot of questions about VA Identification Cards. She said ID Cards are not given out at the UNHS facilities. Veterans must go to Grand Junction to receive their ID Cards. According to Curley, these ID Cards entitle veterans to various discounts on services and items they purchase.

Some transportation services are also facilitated through UNHS. If a veteran has a scheduled appointment in Grand Junction, and they have no transportation, UNHS can arrange transportation through the VA satellite facility in Moab. Curley said she can schedule transportation with the Moab VA facility, that sends a vehicle to Blanding to pick up veterans needing a ride to Grand Junction.

"I love working with the veterans program," Curley said. "I like to see the veterans being awarded something they never thought they would qualify for."

For more information about the UNHS VA program, or to be placed on the UNHS VA roster, contact Melissa Curley at 435-651-3788, or contact her by email at

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