Now that Sean was home his medical care would fall under the Veterans Health Administration through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Aberdeen has a Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) and there is a VA Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD 203 miles to the south.
The transition from the Department of Defense (DOD) to the VA system is not exactly streamlined. Sean had to make copies of all his military medical records to bring to the VA as the two organizations do not yet have electronic record sharing. The doctors then had to review extensive records along with Sean’s accounts of the past 19 months in Iraq, Germany, and in medical hold. Every encounter with a new provider meant starting at the beginning and going over the details.
Sean was evaluated for persistent GI symptoms and mental health, specifically, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. He was assigned a psychiatrist at the CBOC along with a Social Worker for therapy.
The CBOC did not have a doctor on staff, so Sean was evaluated by the Physician’s Assisstant and then referred to a physician at the VA hospital. Thus began our regular travels to Sioux Falls for appointments.