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SERVING OUR VETERANS: ‘Fast track’ to VA oncology services
February 14, 2020

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On October 8, 2019, the Fargo VA Health Care System (HCS) announced they are taking part in an initiative that offers eligible veterans with active cancer, who have not yet enrolled in the VA HCS, the ability to "fast track" to VA oncology services. Through this initiative, eligible veterans with active cancer, who are not yet enrolled in VA, can call 1-833-309-1349 to determine eligibility for VA health care benefits, enroll, and make an appointment with a cancer specialist.

Previously in the Veterans Heath Administration, after enrolling in VA health care, veterans had to see a VA primary care provider and receive a consult or referral from a primary care provider prior to scheduling an appointment with a cancer specialist. But now, fast tracking makes it easier for veterans to quickly receive the care they need and for providers to deliver care in a streamlined and efficient manner. Fast tracking to VA cancer care is improving timeliness for veterans accessing specialty services by getting rid of unnecessary consults and helping veterans get the care they need.

Fargo VA HCS area veterans with active cancer who are not yet enrolled in VA can call the above toll free number to find out if they are eligible for VA health care benefits and make an appointment to see a cancer specialist. As mentioned, previously the process required multiple phone calls with different offices, followed by an appointment with a primary care provider just to receive a referral to a cancer specialist. The goal of the "Fast Tracking to VA Cancer Care" initiative is to improve clinic access, reduce wait times, as well as enhance veteran care and satisfaction. Veterans with cancer face many challenges and accessing the care they earned should not be one of them.

"Fast Tracking to VA Cancer Care" is currently available at some VA facilities, with the Fargo VA HCS being one of them. The goal is that soon this cancer care initiative will be available at all VA facilities nationally. This is just one of the many ways that the VA is evolving and adapting to make sure veterans get the care they need, when they need it.

There are 45,135 veterans in North Dakota, which is 7.8% of our population. Based on population, this ranks North Dakota 29th out of the 50 states. Comparing North Dakota with the other states, statistics show:

- There are 15,677 Vietnam War Veterans in North Dakota. This makes up 34.7% of our veteran population, which is 13th lowest in the nation.

- There are 11,207 veterans in North Dakota that have a disability. This makes up 25.5% of our veteran population, which is the fourth lowest in the nation.

- The veteran labor force participation rate in North Dakota is 85.2%, which is the highest in the nation.

- 7.7% of North Dakota veterans live in poverty. This is the ninth highest in the nation.

Whether it is for cancer care, or any other medical care, meeting our veterans' needs is a challenge. The same is true for all the other benefits they and their families are entitled to, including financial, employment, educational, and death and burial benefits, just to name a few. Let it be our challenge, as thankful citizens, that we do all we can to support our veterans to see they receive the benefits they have earned and have been promised.

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