Why I Choose VA
“You earned it, check it out, give it a chance” - Dewayne Roper
After 16 years and six deployments, Dewayne Roper was ready to take early retirement from the military in 2015. He had heard a lot about the VA from his Marine Corps brethren, some who had served 30-plus years and many of their stories weren’t positive, but he didn’t let that discourage him. He decided to check it out himself.
There was the element of the unknown, but Roper jumped right in.
“At first it seemed like a maze while attempting to navigate the VA program and location within the different medical facilities. There was a lot of information to take in,” he says. He visited the Baltimore VA Medical Center, the Perry Point VA Medical Center (which he discovered was just a few miles from the new home he would be moving into) and a local Vet Center. Then he met his health care team, signed up for support groups at the Vet Center, and started to digest everything he was learning.
Roper experienced what he calls a few “hiccups,” but nothing that couldn’t be worked out. “Since then I’ve never really had a problem getting where I needed to go.”
In fact, since retiring from the Marine Corps, Roper gets all of his health care through the VA Maryland Health Care System, even though he has private health care insurance. “I haven’t used my insurance for myself since I enrolled with VA,” he says. “My wife and kids do, but I use VA.”
His advice to those leaving the military? “You’ll hear things – good and bad. But word-of-mouth is not good enough. You need to check it out yourself.”
“Take that first step and go into the VA. Don’t call, walk in. That’s the only way you’ll be able to figure out exactly what’s going on and how the process works,” he advises. “And don’t let one person or one bad experience turn you off from the VA for good. Stick with it.”
In addition to being a Veteran enrolled with the VA Maryland Health Care System, Roper is also now employed with VA Maryland as a manager in the Employee Education department. See more of Roper on Veterans’ HealthWatch Episode 140.