Milwaukee VA rolls out new tool to help vets connect with doctors at no extra cost

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Office of Veterans Affairs is rolling out a new tool to help veterans connect with their doctors.

Late Wednesday morning, Jan. 22 on a quiet street in Slinger, a veteran is having a health check-up. The doctor working with him is more than 30 miles away.

"At first, I didn't think I could do it. Going, meeting, someone face-to-face in their office, shaking their hand -- it's a lot to be said about that," said Scott Leader, a veteran.

Leader is a veteran of the U.S. Army. On Wednesday, he met with his doctor via a video conference call called Telehealth.

Scott Leader

"I have some medical issues that restrict my travel," Leader said.

Telehealth is a great tool, his doctor says, not just for the patient's well-being, but mental and emotional health as well.

"'Our statistics are that if we can get veterans to engage in care, their risk for suicide alone will reduce dramatically," said Dr. Michael McBride at the Milwaukee Veterans Administration.

It is a resource that has slowly been rolled out within the Milwaukee V.A.'s medical departments.

Gary Kunich

"Milwaukee VA has really been growing this over the last year. We've been rolling it out slowly making sure that it works. Making sure that it was something that our veterans liked to do," said Gary Kunich of the Milwaukee V.A.

As Wednesday's visit wrapped up, there was no 40-minute drive home for Leader -- and no anxiety about being out in public. Instead, he simply goes about the rest of his day -- at home.

The Telehealth service comes at no additional cost to veterans. So far, several hundred people at the Milwaukee V.A. have used the technology -- and nearly 1,500 appointments have been conducted. The Milwaukee V.A. expects those numbers to grow in the coming years.