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28 March 2017

NOW you want to talk?

This is primarily an update to Why I'm Done With The Vet Center (see https://stillinthedesert.blogspot.com/2017/02/why-im-done-with-vet-center.html) but I'm going to recap a little about everything that's going on, just in case you're dropping into this in the middle.

After the Lawrenceville GA Vet Center dropped me through the cracks by canceling that appointment on February 15, I didn't hear from them again until a month later. No one noticed when I didn't show up for the group session that I'd been scheduled for the next week. After that appointment was canceled, and after I hadn't been missed for group, I didn't see any point in trusting the social worker who had bailed or the Vet Center as a whole.

I still don't.

When the Vet Center bailed on me, I figured I'd at least be able to get an appointment with someone in mental health. I'd just had an initial appointment with a primary care MD in Lawrenceville, and a referral was supposed to have been sent.Two weeks after I was at primary care I still didn't have a mental health appointment. After a week I got two phone calls from a psychologist; I called back both times and left voice mails and never got a response.

I went to the Atlanta VAMC emergency room on February 27 (see https://stillinthedesert.blogspot.com/2017/02/visiting-va-emergency-room.html) after my PTSD symptoms kept getting worse. After I'd been to the emergency room and after it was promised there that a referral would again be made to get me an appointment in mental health, I got a letter from the psychologist I'd originally referred to saying they were closing the referral.

I got a call from Lawrenceville primary care on March 1 to set up an appointment with someone in mental health. The soonest I'd be able to get in to see anyone would be March 28.

On March 9--  two weeks after I'd been to the emergency room-- I got a follow up call from someone in the ER (see https://stillinthedesert.blogspot.com/2017/03/vamc-er-follow-up-to-follow-up.html). The details of that call are in that post, but I did mention (loudly and often) that the Lawrenceville Vet Center had canceled my individual appointment, not missed me in group, and I hadn't heard from them since. The ER person doing the follow up couldn't (or wouldn't) do anything to get me in front of a mental health professional sooner than my already scheduled appointment on March 28.

That the Vet Center bailed on me and primary care bailed on me at the same time is what's making things so serious now. (Okay, so now you're caught up.)

On March 15, just about a week after that ER follow up call, the social worker I'd been assigned to at the Lawrenceville Vet Center called and left a message. She's called twice more since then-- on March 21 and on March 27. She wants to talk to me. She wants to set up an appointment.

Blah. Blah. Blah.
 
I haven't answered, or returned any of these calls. I don't intend to return any of them, ever. I won't go back to that Vet Center. I won't likely go to any Vet Center again, considering that this wasn't the first time that a Vet Center hasn't been willing to help.

In early 2015, I was back at the Vet Center in Madison WI with a new social worker. The SW I'd had before that had moved to a different job within the VA, and I was supposed to be reassigned to someone else-- the reassignment never happened. I had to go there in person to get assigned a new counselor. The new counselor told me after a few visits that I was doing just fine, and didn't need to come back for another appointment. That was two years ago, and until I decided to contact the Vet Center in Lawrenceville GA that was the last time I'd talked to anyone at a Vet Center.

I don't know if the person doing followup from the Atlanta VAMC ER called the Lawrenceville Vet Center and asked what was going on, or if someone saw my blog and put two and two together, or if my name popped up on a list of people that they hadn't had contact with for 30 days.

It doesn't matter.

In six weeks since they called and canceled that appointment, my mental health has gone from "there's a problem and I need to talk to someone" to "okay, what the fuck is going through my head" to "all right, I'm meeting all of the indications of being a short step or two away from suicidal".


Two Vet Centers in two different states, two years apart, I got dropped through the cracks twice.

I've asked myself more than once if I'm just speaking from emotion, not being logical-- isn't it all or nothing thinking to say that because two Vet Centers turned out to be useless, that all Vet Centers are useless?

At this point my conclusion is that they are. Not just useless, tits on a bull useless. Of course, YMMV.

I don't have a vendetta against them. I'm angry, I'm disappointed, I'm even hurt, but it's not personal. That's why I don't (and haven't ever) called out specific people. I've bounced around long enough now to have realized that it's not just one person, not just one location.

There was a time when I actually looked forward to my Vet Center visits, when I was getting help from someone who really gave a shit about the work she was doing. When she left to take another VA job somewhere else, not at a Vet Center, I wondered (although I never got a chance to ask) why she was leaving someplace where she was obviously doing good work.

Now I know.

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