Disabled services, Tricare, and the VA

I have a disabled son that will be an adult by the time we arrive there. He'll probably always stick close to home. However, independence is the goal. Are there services available to assist in meeting this goal and if so, how are they? He's very high functioning. He has Autism, ankylosing spondylitis, and bipolar with schizoid affective. He's in remission and off all meds. We have Tricare, so how widely is that accepted? And the VA.  Does it suck? Or does it rock?

My brother is fifty per cent service-related disability and uses the VA here in Puerto Rico.  He is very happy with them. So, I will say it rocks.
I use a psychiatrist here for my clinical depression and am glad to say that I like him.  Even in the States it is hard to find one that speaks English.
I do not know about Tricare, but generally speaking healthcare here is far less expensive.   My primary is Medicare and my secondary is from my former employer.  Never had to pay extra.

My latest VA example:.......... I showed up, unannounced, and checked in with flu symptoms and chest congestion. Within 45 minutes I was discussing my problems with a doctor; she sent me off for blood work and chest x-rays; 90 minutes later I'm back in her office and she explains the treatment she has prescribed and sends me to the pharmacy. An hour later, I'm walking out with 3 prescriptions and a nebulizer. Total elapse time about 4 hours.  I've been down here for the last six years and have no complaints, whatsoever.

thanks for taking the time to share that post. I'm a fellow veteran who has had mainly positive experiences with the VA hospitals as well and I was wondering what the VA hospital in San Juan was like. You've taken away some worries I had about it being a really screwed up hospital.

One question, what about your primary care doctor, do you see one regularly? If so, do you see the same doctor again and again and have good relationship going. Or, do you get a different doctor overtime you go? Also anything else about VA medical care outside the hospital.

What branch of the service were you in? I was Army and served with an assault helicopter unit durning Vietnam, 2nd/17 air can, 101st Airborne Div. I was a 19 year old kid with a brand-new helicopter and all the bullets I could shoot, I loved flying. Maybe after I hit town, we can get together and swap stories as only veterans can.

Until recently, I saw the same primary care doctor for the last four years. She transferred  to the States and I now have a new doctor. My experience has been that you don't get passed around.

If you're not sold on living in the San Juan Metro area, check out the various Outpatient Clinic locations scattered around the Island. I don't have any health issues that require frequent visits to the regional hospital in SJ and there's an outpatient clinic near me that makes the routine lab and primary care visits a breeze. I didn't plan it that way, but if I were to move again, I'd certainly make the clinic location a consideration.

Sj is a large, crowded city with all the "trappings" (restaurants, casinos, shopping, cultural events) but also has some major traffic congestion, parking issues, heat, etc. Public transportation is barely mediocre. Being retired with a car, I really don't have a need to be in all that BS on a daily basis. A few years back, I migrated out and now live in the coastal mountains 45 minutes from SJ.

Hey Boxzilla;

Thanks for the useful information about getting bounced around from doctor to doctor at the SJU VA hospital.

Not only is this good news for me, but I have an Army buddy living in Nicaragua and whenever he has an appointment with the VA he fly's to Florida. He's been doing this for years and almost every time he returns, he is treated by a different doctor, and he has to start from scratch with his medical history to each new doctor, which sucks. When I told him about my planned to Puerto Rico he wanted to know about the VA hospital there. From the sound of it, he'd be a lot better off if he switched hospitals.

I'd like to live in old san juan for awhile, but I think it might be a little too expensive from some of the adds I'm seeing. There is just me and my wife, no kids or pets, we're looking for a 2 bedroom with the rent under $1200 a month.

I'm thinking about doing what you did and move out of the city. Until I become a little more sure about myself and living in Puerto Rico, I'd like to find a place where there are some other expats from the mainland living there, you know, "birds of a feather" I'm thinking about Rincon, do you know of other places that have a a population of expats? hopefully close to a beach?

From one solider to another, thanks man, I hope to run into you when I move there.

frog rock

That's good to hear about how your brother feels about the VA and the medical care he is receiving. Even though his disability is rated at 55%, while I'm rated at 100%, there isn't any difference between us for receiving the level of medical care without making a co-payment, I think from 50% to 100% there isn't any difference. We're at the top of the heap, the only ones above us, and rightly so, are the ones who received the (MOH) medal of honor.

I think if there is any difference at all, it dental coverage. 100% er's get it for free, I don't know if free dental care extends to those rated 50% or not. It's no big deal, it takes forever to get an appointment. Tell your brother, one vet to another, thanks for your service.

So far, I like what I'm hearing about the medical care for veterans that Puerto Rico is offering.

There are expats all over the island, largest concentrations are Rincon, Aguada, Aguadilla, Dorado, Condado, Isla Verde, Luquillo, Fajardo.

That's what I've been looking for, a list. Now all I have to do is check it out and see if there are any VA outpatient clinics near any of these places.

They are all sea towns by the way.
Click on the town names to learn something of each of them, sorry no VA info in it.


That is an excellent link, thanks for sending it. I'm checking out this 2 bedroom house in Rincon that is just across the street from the beach. It's furnished and has a carport and has wall around it, not a high wall, but one that gives privacy, I like the way the place is laid out and at $750 a month, it's well within our budget.

I just got an answer to my email about the place, I don't if it's the owner or a agent from a real estate company. I'm hoping the place will still be available when I get there. In fact, I like the place so much, I'll make a special trip there next month if it's still available, I don't this place to slip through my hands. Although, my plan is to rent a place for 2 or 3 months and take trips to various locations to find the place that is a "perfect fit" I don't want to rush while looking, so I think I should a good idea after I've been there for a couple of months.

Excellent idea, the price is good, you may be able to get better, but it is close. If you can have them rent it to you for less than 6 months then it is a steal, that will give you time to check around or decide to keep the place. Hope it is available.
Good luck
Likely you will like Rincon.
Check around for places to eat where locals go in bunches, not the tourists, this will tell you the food is good and at good price. Tourist places may not be that great as the owners will always get people to eat there if only once or twice, but there is always more tourists so their business stays afloat. You been in southamerica, a good place may not look like much, but food is good, plentiful, and cheap. Locals, watch them.
After you move to PR, please stay active in the forum, the more people the more advice and different points of view that help new comers.

When I was living in Costa Rica, the difference in prices between the tourist gringo food restaurants, and the local Tico food restaurants was night and day, Tico's are another name for the local Costa Ricans, not offensive', the Tico's don't mind being calle Tico's. And or course, in Nicaragua, its Nica's.

Local food is usually a lot more healthier for you as well, it's all "organic" because the farmers can't afford the chemicals or other the other junk that the American farmers use. Something with livestock, there is a also a big difference in taste. When my wife first got here, she complained that the meat doesn't have any flavor, she right. Another thing she said that cracked me up when we first got here, she said "In Nicaragua the cows are skinny and the people are skinny as well. In America, the cows and the people are fat" I hope the farmers in Puerto Rico follow suit by growing food and raising livestock organically.

As far as staying connected to this forum after I move, of course I'll still contribute to subjects I have experience on to help others. People like you are giving me a "leg up" with useful and very much needed information. I believe in returning a favor, and then some, helping others is what it's all about, Soldiers know the value of helping each other out more than most people.

AS far as finding a place to live, I'm seeing some damn good deals on Craigslist and some others sources that have a classified Ad section, I think maybe, this is the best time of the year to be looking for a place to rent, December and January or whenever its cold up north, affordable places might be hard to come by.

The months of November to April, are worst time to find a place in Rincon, all the surfers and snow birds have taken over.

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