Are All Veterans Treated Fairly with Hepatitis C? The Veterans Administration has definitely made positive changes for those infected with Hep C. More money and expanded programs are making huge improvements. Still there are those who may not be getting the benefits. Even with increased funding, not every veteran is being treated fairly. I have ties with vets who have HCV and hear very different stories from each of them. Let their experience speak for itself. For the sake of privacy, I’ll refer to them as V1, V2, and V3.
Are all veterans treated fairly with Hepatitis C?
V1 was diagnosed with stage 2 liver disease, and was advised to wait on treatment. He wasn’t sick enough. His work as an electrician required climbing on ladders. One day, he got dizzy and fell. He got banged up, bruised, and had a 4 inch gash in his arm. Because he had served as an Iraq infantryman, he knew how to tourniquet, and then sat quietly in ER without making a scene. The staff ignored him, moving others through the waiting room of the large hospital. After 4 hours, he was finally seen, stitched up, and sent home. He works 50 hours a week. He still has Hep C.
V2 found out he had Hep C about 15 years ago. After a round of Interferon, he still had the virus. He declined treating again until 2015. He is now Hep C free and leads an active life in the suburbs. He is semi-retired and can be found greeting people at a local store, or at the VFW watching sports. He tends a garden, and is screened for liver cancer every 6 months. He gets blood labs drawn to monitor for anemia and liver enzymes. His doctor at the small clinic he goes to enjoys fresh tomatoes that our best friend in the battle brings him all summer.
V3 loves his nurses. They feel the same about him. The clinic has monitored his Hep C since he moved to a rural area about 10 years ago. They did routine blood work and praised his “get up and go” attitude. They started his treatment after finding a tumor, which turned out to be hepatocellular carcinoma. After clearing the virus in 2016, they began monitoring him more closely. This Viet Nam vet was not listed for a transplant at his own request. He is now being treated using TACE. His health is declining rapidly with ascites, varices, and malnourishment. He has had several hospitalizations recently. He still praises the excellent treatment received from the medical staff.
These are just 3 guys that I’ve gotten close to. Some of their experiences were due to general health, but in every case, the facility played an important role in how they dealt with HCV.
I occasionally hear from other veterans. There are thousands of veterans who have personal experience with Hep C. I get emails, and get behind on reading emails…. With Veterans Day coming up, I always think of them, including my own family members who served in the armed forces. One cousin died from cirrhosis back in the late 80’s. He drank some for sure, but now I wonder if he had Hep C. There was no test at the time. The quality of care is definitely improving. The latest policy changes promise for even more help for our best friends who are veterans. Xoxo Karen