That number, based on the department's eligibility projections, could increase as much as 30% under the new Mission Act, adding just over a half-million veterans to the pool seeking private care - although both critics and supporters of the change believe that number is low.
He said, "The launch of the VA Mission Act today represents a new chapter for veterans here in southwest MI and across the country". Veterans can see a private doctor if the VA doesn't offer the type of care they need.
The MISSION Act's creation of the Veterans Community Care Program consolidates and expands the efforts of all the VA's previous programs, including the Veteran's Choice Program.
Starting Thursday, more USA veterans will be able to start seeing private doctors - as part of a new law born out of scandal five years ago when some vets died because they couldn't get appointments at VA centers.
Under the new program, veterans who have to drive more than 30 minutes for primary or mental health care or 60 minutes for specialty care are eligible to go to a private doctor, and the VA will pay the bill.
A new urgent care benefit is also created, whereby veterans can visit non-VA urgent care clinics at VA expense without prior approval.
"The VA MISSION Act will strengthen the nationwide VA Health Care System by empowering Veterans to have more options in their health care decisions", said Walla Walla VA Medical Center Public Affairs Specialist Linda Wondra. The most noteworthy was Veterans Choice, established in 2014 during the Obama administration.
"We are honored to reaffirm our commitment to America's Veterans", said Butler VA's Director Jon Lasell. The Community Care program does not diminish the VA's obligation to directly provide care and continue improving its services, the agency said. The new community care program is a positive step toward that goal.
Veterans with questions can contact the Hampton VA Medical Center at 757-722-9961, ext.
While department officials say they are ready, veterans groups and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have expressed concerns about the VA, which has been dogged by problems with its computer systems for years.
Brahm says the staff at the Tomah VA have been training for months to make the transition as smooth as possible.