Veterans now able to use benefits at Carilion

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Veterans in the area now have more options when it comes to healthcare providers.

Carilion has partnered with the VA medical center through the Veterans Choice program, meaning that veterans can use their benefits at any Carilion location.

Carolyn Chrisman, senior vice president at Carilion has worked for the past year to become an in-network provider.

"We as a community owe a lot to our veterans, so we want to do the best we can for them," Chrisman said.

For Carilion, that meant making their doctors available to veterans who wanted the option to see a provider outside of the VA hospital.

"We feel like it's very, very important for Carilion and the community to provide good access to medical care, especially when the VA has said that they can't,"  Chrisman said.

Congress started the veterans choice program in 2015  after reports that veterans often had to wait too long to be seen at VA facilities.

Carilion began seeing veterans on April 1, 2016 after working since June of 2015 to become a part of the program.

In less than a month, 65 veterans have already accessed these services.

With a variety of Carilion doctors across the region. Chrisman says it doesn't make sense for veterans to be forced to wait.

"I hope it provides better access. That's what this is all about. I want them to have continuity of care as well," Chrisman said. "Once we see a veteran, we share back with the VA all of the medical records so that they stay in the VA system. The next time they need care they can still go back through the VA."

The program is available to any veteran who cannot be seen by the VA in less than thirty days, or who lives  more than a forty mile drive away from a VA medical facility.

Chrisman says it is important that any veteran wanting to utilize these services contact the VA first then request to use a Carilion doctor.

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