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      Struggling with the VA

      Recently, the VA has been in the spotlight regarding care of United States Veterans. However issues have been hovering over the VA long before it garnered media attention.

      Erik Johnson is just one of almost nine million veteranâ??s receiving healthcare from Veterans Affairs. Outside of the VA, patients have the ability to choose the care they want, but for something as simple as switching psychiatrists, Johnson has a few hoops to jump through.

      "You have to fill out a form, you have to go back and talk to the doctor, and I've had rationale where well the doctor should be able to understand why you don't want to see him. If I fire him in the civilian world, I'm sure not going to fill out a form, go back and talk to him about it. I want to go see someone I can relate to," said Erik Johnson, veteran under the care of the VA.

      Granted Johnson has a lot more to worry about than just switching doctors. For years he has been dealing with pain in his back and after no results with the VA he made a trip to the ER outside of the VA with numbness in his hands.

      "I started noticing little twinges. You bend over and at first, the doctors, this is VA doctors, it's like well it's age. I pushed and pushed to get more pictures and X-rays and MRI's and stuff just in case," said Johnson.

      That trip to the ER led to the VA putting in the first of a number of plates in Johnson's spine. The struggle continues for Johnson to receive the care he needs, but he does have a piece of advice for veterans.

      "Veterans got to get all the records they can find, because if the VA comes back and says well you're looking really good, you can come back and say well you know this is what you didn't find, this is what's going on, they can't boot you out," said Johnson.