CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you're one of the eligible veterans who believes you don't get the care you need from the VA, have you spoken to your patient advocate?
Perhaps you didn't and should.
It's one of the least-known positions at the VA Clinic, but it's also one of the most valuable.
“It’s just pointing them towards what the veteran needs,” said Martin Longoria.
Longoria is the patient advocate at the Corpus Christi VA Outpatient Clinic. His job is to fight for veterans and their families.
“We wear multiple hats,” Longoria said. “Basically, it’s getting through the health field, but other areas too.”
For Longoria, it's an extension of his old job as Nueces County's Veterans Services Officer. As VSO, Longoria often focused on those other areas, such as benefits. For the VA, he helps veterans get their care they need, so they don't have to do it on their own.
“When you try to do it on your own, it’s kind of difficult,” said Jose Hinojosa.
Veterans such as Hinojosa.
“If you have issues and you couldn’t get a hold of a doctor or nurse, call up here and talk to the patient advocate,” Hinojosa said. “They take care of everything.”
Hinojosa spent 15 years in the U.S. Army as a cavalry scout, with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“You get to see what you’re made of, you take care of your soldiers, you learn,” Hinojosa said.
However, nothing Hinojosa learned on the battlefield could prepare him for his toughest fight: a liver transplant. That's when he turned to Longoria, who made the process as painless as possible, Hinojosa said.
“He was a lot of help with that,” said Hinojosa. “He helped out a lot and a lot of the stress was gone.”
Longoria said for him, helping veterans is just part of the job.
“There are some things that are difficult to do at times, but we’re here to assist the veteran the best way we can,” he said. “If they need something, I’m here for them, their family members. I will assist them in any which way I can.”
Veterans having trouble with the VA should contact Longoria at (361) 806-5600, or stop by the VA Outpatient Clinic at 5283 Old Brownsville Rd.
Contact Veterans In Focus reporters: Greg Chandler at email@example.com and Pat Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org