Chapter 5 Accessing VA Health Care Services

To obtain important VA Health Care Facility Locations and Phone Numbers, visit VA’s website at

Scheduling an Appointment and Canceling Appointments

VA is committed to providing high-quality, clinically appropriate health care — when it is wanted and needed. This 
commitment includes the ability to make appointments that meet the needs of our Veterans, with no undue waits or
delays. We monitor the wait times for scheduled appointments, and give our Veterans the opportunity to complete a
survey to tell us whether an appointment was available at a preferred time.

How to Schedule or Cancel Appointments 

Enrolled Veterans may call the Primary Care/specialty clinic during regular business hours to:

Make an appointment,

Change an appointment, or
 Cancel an appointment.

Are There Walk-in Appointments?

Although VA providers will evaluate a Veteran’s condition if he or she decides to “walk in” to a Primary Care clinic
without a scheduled appointment, there may be a wait, depending on the severity of the medical situation.

Emergency Care and Non-VA Facilities 

In case of emergencies, Veterans should always call 911. VA does not have to be contacted in advance. Veterans
should always go to the nearest emergency room whether it’s a VA or private facility. If transported by ambulance, the
paramedics generally will go to the closest emergency room.

Urgent and After-Hours Care (Evenings, Nights, Weekends, Federal Holidays) 

Enrolled Veterans may call the after-hours telephone advice care line to get advice about health concerns. This line is
staffed by registered nurses who will discuss medical concerns and work to determine the necessary care.

Social Work Services

VA social workers are assigned to all patient treatment programs, including community-based outpatient clinics. They
provide social and clinical services to Veterans and their families in resolving the social, emotional, and economic
problems associated with the stresses of illness. Social workers bring skills in individual, group, and family treatment to
the care of Veteran patients as they move through the continuum of care.

VA Social Work Service has responsibility for the Fisher House Program, the Temporary Lodging Program, policies on
reporting suspected abuse and neglect, and family support for polytrauma patients.

Interpreter Services

If foreign language (or American Sign Language) services would help you or your family understand your medical or
health care benefits, there are interpreter services available. Please contact the Patient Advocate at your nearest VA
health care facili