My husband and I went to his mental health appointment today, it was a new doctor in training and a supervising doctor handling the appointment. My husband brings me to these appointments because he doesn't want to go alone, he says I am his security blanket, I make it easier for him to talk about hard things just by being there. I can calm him when he is about to explode and I know his body language. He also has memory problems from the TBI so by the time he left the office he would forget most of what had happened. When the doctors saw us standing there they told him he would have to go in alone, they said I could come in at the end, he said he wanted to me there for the whole thing when they said no, I could see the nervous look in his eye so I told them he had memory problems and I needed to be there, again they said no I could come in at the end. At this point my husband was looking very anxious, I told them I wasn't comfortable with that and they saw I wasn't about to back down so I got to go in (but was told not to speak for the first part- fair enough). So why am I telling you this? Because I think many people would not speak up and it is so important for you to speak up, you may feel like you don't have the right because you are "just a spouse" but you are so much more than that. You are your veteran's advocate. You know him better than anyone, you are with him/her day in and day out. Many times your vet won't or can't speak up, that is when you need to step in. Unfortunately in my experience I have found that the VA can be a bit of a bully but if you stand your ground, remain persistent and be that squeaky wheel they will comply. If you are having issues and have exhausted all avenues through the VA then contact your local Congressman, I have found that just asking for the patient liaison or suggesting to the staff that perhaps a Congressman may be able to help sometimes moves things along.
Don't be mean, don't be nasty, don't swear, don't lose your temper but do be firm, consistent and concise. When you run into a problem make sure you have an idea in your head of what you expect from the person you are speaking to. If the person says that they will check with so and so on this or that and will get back to you make sure you ask them when they will be getting back to you and let them know that if you haven't heard from them by that date or time you will call them to follow up.