As a service-disabled Veteran, I can certainly identify with many who are frustrated with the frailties of the VA healthcare system. And there is no doubt that a long, hard look at the current model is sorely needed. However, I would like to use this week’s blog to talk about a very narrow part of the VA healthcare system in Montana.

Did you know that the VA contracts directly with only top-tier hearing aid manufacturers and only for their most advanced products? Despite popular belief, there is no lowest-bidder shenanigans going on with VA hearing aids. Only the most sophisticated hearing technology is acquired for the Veterans.

Some of the most thorough and respected research in this field is conducted by the VA. If the VA puts its stamp of approval on a hearing aid, you can and should recommend that technology to all of your friends and family. They really are that good. The same can be said for VA-contract providers.

Speaking only for the Montana VA system, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the Veterans are working with some of the finest and most knowledgeable professionals in the state. In an exceptionally rare and well-conceived move, the Montana VA system put hearing care in the hands of the most qualified local providers rather than in their own clinics and hospitals. VA fee-based contractors are rigorously vetted and most have been providing services to Veterans for years. This length of tenure ensures the strongest of relationships with the VA and therefore the best service to the Veterans.

Non-VA fee-based hearing health care also means shorter drive times, faster wait times, longer appointments, more attentive providers, and little perks you can’t get at a VA hospital. Immediate service, walk-in allowances for cleaning and maintenance, and concierge service for repairs and programming. The use of local fee-based providers also saves the VA millions of dollars a year in payroll and infrastructure costs. This money can now be dedicated to considerably more important services.

The VA contracts with local providers for the assessments and distribution of the hearing aids as well as necessary follow-up care and services. The VA does not purchase any equipment directly from the provider. Because of this unique relationship, your VA hearing care provider must meet very strict education, qualification, and service standards to maintain the contract. What does that mean for you? Top notch service. Period.

When you have a moment, call your VA Service Rep and support community based contract hearing health providers. It’s good for you, your fellow Vets, your local community, and small businesses.