MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest healthcare provider to U.S. veterans, but many are reluctant to use its services, researchers say.
Rachel Widome of the Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center said since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, 51 percent of eligible Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have sought care through the VA.
This is in part because of unfamiliarity with the system, distance from the VA medical centers, misconceptions about the quality of VA care, or reluctance to visit a large VA hospital for routine care, Widome said.
"One pressing issue in providing any kind of services to veterans, especially those who have separated recently, is that the Military Health System and VA are not well-integrated, which makes continuity of any type of service more challenging," the study said.
"The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 has enabled hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans to attend college and some natural partnerships could emerge between universities and organizations devoted to promoting veteran health."
The findings are scheduled to be published in the January issue of Preventing Chronic Diseases.