My experience at the VA Hospital has been significantly different from that of a recent letter writer who experienced problems parking.
About a year ago, my husband and I wanted to make daily visits to a very close friend who was at the VA with a serious condition. I was relying on a walker to assist me, but still did not have the capability to walk more than three or four feet comfortably.
The first day, when we pulled into the driveway in front of the VA, I explained that I needed handicapped parking. A man on duty called ahead on a small radio and then told me to pull up front where there was a space. A man up front offered me the use of a wheelchair and told me in the future to simply request one when we pulled in.
Every day for almost two weeks, we were directed to the front where a wheelchair waited. The valets were exceptional. I certainly understand the writer’s frustration, but perhaps he wasn’t aware of this excellent option.
VA parking problems
I applaud the Sept. 8 letter about problems parking at the VA Hospital. It truly is a shame to see how veterans with disabilities are treated when trying to get into the hospital here.
My husband is a Vietnam veteran and a double amputee. The letter regarding our most recent appointment warned not to be late or the appointment would be canceled and the request for another would have to start all over. I was frantic to get him there on time.
We got there and, of course, there was no parking. There was no valet parking either. I was told to keep circling the building until space became available. After the third time around, I asked to drive up on the ramp to lower my husband’s wheelchair so he could get to his appointment. I would keep circling.
When my husband got out, however, he told me very loudly that he wasn’t moving from the center of the drive-up ramp until they found a place for our vehicle.
A space was immediately found. I was blessed, but what about all those others who had to keep circling?
Something has got to be done. This is no way to treat men and women who have served our country and now need our help. Charleston, please stand up for our veterans and make your voices heard.
‘There is a trick’
I would like to offer a different take on the Sept. 8 letter “Fix VA parking.” There is a trick I try to use as often as possible when I have appointments. I schedule them so I show up at shift changes.
I noticed on my fifth, sixth (or was it 10th?) lap through the parking lots on the “Great Search” several empty parking spots behind the gated employee parking area.
I was in the lower parking lot when the morning shift changed and at least a dozen VA employees came streaming from the hospital with their VA ID tags blowing in the breeze. They got into their cars (parked in patient parking) and, Presto Change-o, I had a place to park. I reported this phenomenon to security and was assured they would look into it.
That was a year ago. As of my last arrival for an appointment the parade continued. It doesn’t matter which shift change you’re there for. Some of those who are there to care for us continue to care for themselves first. If the VA staff can use patient parking then please at least allow us to use the empty staff parking to shorten the hunt if not the walk.
I hope this doesn’t increase my already excessive wait time at some of the clinics.
Master Chief, U.S. Navy (Retired)
VA addressing parking
In response to the letter regarding parking problems at the Ralph Johnson VA hospital, the reason for this problem is the VA is serving as many vets as possible. I have been a patient over 10 years and this is the only problem I have found. Please be advised that there is free valet parking, and a new parking garage is under construction.
Highway 41 North