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A Veteran's Story: How I Manage My Health

Contributed by Garland "Gar" Dean Wiggs
Wytheville, VA

1930 was a great year and so is 2011, thanks to the VA's My HealtheVet

It is hard to believe that this old Korean-police action, U. S. Navy Veteran is still alive and keeping himself relatively healthy. I once thought anyone over 80 was ancient. Now that I have reached that age, life certainly is not bad at all, in spite of the normal aches and pains associated with old age.

Gar Wiggs during his navy years

My, how quickly the years have gone by. It seems it was just yesterday that I joined the U.S. Navy as a raw Seaman Recruit. I was on my way to Great Lakes IL Naval Training Center for sixteen weeks of boot camp. Oh yes, back in 1948 it took a lot longer than today to train young recruit "boots" to become U.S. sailors!

My initial entry into the USN as that raw Recruit was followed by four years, 11 months and 12 days of varied active duty assignments as a Seaman, Yeoman 3rd Class Petty Officer, Personnelman 2nd Class Petty Officer and ultimately, as a Personnelman First Class Petty Office serving as ship's company at state-side facilities, aboard ships and finally, as an enlisted member of the staff of Commander Fleet Air, Japan at Atsugi, Japan.

Upon my honorable discharge from active duty in late May 1953, with a good conduct stripe on my sleeve, I reenlisted in the USNR for yet another four years. This time however, for inactive duty. Here now in 2011, I am still receiving some great benefits from my years of service to the USA.

Gar Wiggs current

Thanks to the VA's ingenious MyHealtheVet program, I am able to manage my health. I do this by keeping track of my vital signs and my prescription drugs. I can view lab results. Above all, I can contact my primary health care team using Secure Messaging. I can do this in the privacy of my home office on my personal computer or from anywhere else where Internet service is available. I found getting started on My HealtheVet only took a few simple steps:

Step 1

On My HealtheVet I found and followed the simple instructions on how to register. When I registered, I set up my new account with my preferred user name and password. The on-line form will ask you what your relationship to the VA is. If you come to the VA for your health care, be sure to check both Veteran and VA Patient. After I registered, I took some time to preview the many different resources. I also checked out the key tab menu headings located there. I found it to be a comprehensive health data resource site, covering all the bases.

Step 2

This step was to upgrade my (My HealtheVet) account. I completed this during my next appointment at my VA Medical Center. This consisted of my stopping by the Release of Information Office (ROI) to sign the Authentication form[VA Form 10-5345a - May 2005]. Doing this gave the VA permission to release all my personal health information electronically to my My HealtheVet account. If you are served by a VA Community-based Outpatient Clinic, you can obtain the Authentication form from a Clerk. They will check any government supplied ID card and fax the form to your Regional Medical Center's ROI office.

Step 3

Once your Authentication form has cleared the ROI, usually with a few working days, it is time to put My HealtheVet to work for you! Instead of having to use the phone or snail mail, I now regularly use My HealtheVet to:

  • Keep track of and reorder my prescribed medications

  • View my upcoming clinic appointments

  • Review and print my recent lab results and get an interpretation of what they mean even to a layman like me

  • Finally, I no longer get into the "playing phone tag" with my VA primary health care team, since I use Secure Messaging to contact them

I urge you to join me in managing your own health. Partner with your VA Patient Care Team. Do this by using My HealtheVet as your personal convenient health care management tool.

Oh my, modern technology - "ain't it great?"

Important facts to remember when you register on My HealtheVet

Do you get any of your care at a VA facility? If yes, it is important that when you register make sure:

  • Your name is an exact match with the way it is in your VA health record

  • Enter your middle name or initial as it is printed in your VA health record

  • Be sure to check both Veteran and VA Patient under the section titled Relationship to the VA

Active Learning

Track Health My HealtheVet allows a registered user to record and track their health information in one convenient location. You can record and monitor your pain levels, body weight and more in the Vitals section. Even see a graph of your progress. You can also journal your exercise routine and food intake in the Journals section. My HealtheVet has provided you dozens of way to manage your health care. Start tracking your health today!

Read More

What is Healthy Living? Practicing healthy living generally makes people feel good and have more energy than people who do not practice healthy habits. So what are these healthy living habits?

Taking an Active Role in Your Health Care One of the best things you can do for yourself is to take an active role in your health care. This means learning about your health, participating in decision making, and following the treatment plan you have developed with your health care team.

Talk to your Health Care Provider Your health care provider is there to help you with your health, and the two of you are partners for that purpose. That means that you need to be involved in your health care and do things to make your visits productive.

Updated October 1, 2011