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Travel / Lodging determined by travel department rather the specialty doctors.

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Hi everyone,

After waiting months for an appointment, three days before my travel date I was denied hotel lodging (by the travel department of the destination hospital Mather VAMC) that my neurologist properly submitted a referral for lodging for imaging & EEG (electroencephalogram) to rule out brain injury due to SYNOPE, which was estimated to take several hours.  I lost my drivers license due to this condition so my wife would be taking me.  We are in our sixties and I am 80% SC disabled.

The destination hospital is 175 miles away making it 350 miles round trip.  Since the VA hospital is located on the far side of a major city from my location, the travel time  is listed at “Typically 2:30 to 3:20 hours each way” on google maps.  It has been my experience the actual time is usually 3:10 to 3:15 not counting unexpected traffic and or stops for restroom, food, and gas.

After the denial, my VA Neurologist contacted the local patient advocate who confirmed I qualified for VA lodging for this specific appointment.  The patient advocate then called the travel department of Mather VAMC, and was told by the travel department that it would not be covered as my appointment to not involve a “surgical procedure”.  

My local patient advocate called me and said the Mather VAMC travel department was not going to approve the travel because the visit did not specifically involve a “surgical procedure” and was mystified by the decision.    The patient advocate then contacted my neurologist and recommended that they place a referral for community care for the same procedure(s).

I have looked for the official VA policy on travel / lodging and am not able to find any reference to lodging for surgical procedures only.  The VA policies I have found are somewhat vague regarding lodging other than they must be submitted in advance and pre-approved.


From my perspective, the Mather VAMC "Travel Department"" has independently decided to save less than $100 on a hotel in exchange for delaying my treatment, which required my Neurologist to outsource treatment to community care, that will likely result in paying a local hospital many thousands of dollars more than VA costs, to accomplish the same tests.  In the old days, my generation referred to this as serious "overreach and red tape".

It is my impression that the Mather VAMC travel department has improperly denied the lodging request that my neurologist has properly submitted.

In order for me to better understand this issue, can someone please point me to the direction of the actual and official VA Policy regarding travel and lodging?


Thank You

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Posted (edited)

Update: I was able to find some recently published VA information, but it really does little to answer the question other than the VA travel office can essentially do anything and get away with it.

In some cases, we may reimburse you for the actual cost, up to 50% of the local government employee rate, for meals or lodging. You’ll need to provide all receipts.

(Your medical condition, and) does not provided specifics on which condition(s) are required to qualify?
(How far you need to travel for care, and) does not provided specifics on distance required to qualify?
(Other circumstances) this is my favorite non answer... does not provided specifics on  what Other circumstances are required to qualify?

However, the VA Employee policy is very specific about the requirements for things like dry cleaning, interpreters, dining, ect...

I personally feel like a the VA treats me and my fellow compatriots like second class citizens, because the can get away with it.


*********see below for policy***********

Last updated: July 13, 2020

We determine the need for meals and lodging on a case-by-case basis based on:

  • Your medical condition, and
  • How far you need to travel for care, and
  • Other circumstances

Except in certain unusual cases, you can only get this reimbursement if we approve it before you travel. We won’t reimburse you for lodging or meals if you chose to stop or take a less direct route to a VA or VA-authorized health facility.

Edited by MKAH

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MKAH This isn't going to get you a very prompt answer probably, but why not try to contact Paul R. Lawrence, PhD, Under Sec. for Benefits. Give him the details and I suspect that he will direct it to someone in benefits that can give you direction. You'll have to do some searching on getting Lawrence's mail address.

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Just now, GBArmy said:

MKAH This isn't going to get you a very prompt answer probably, but why not try to contact Paul R. Lawrence, PhD, Under Sec. for Benefits. Give him the details and I suspect that he will direct it to someone in benefits that can give you direction. You'll have to do some searching on getting Lawrence's mail address.

OK, thank you.  I'll do exactly that.

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Link to Veteran Travel Policy


I believe I found the correct contact address:


US Department of Veterans Affairs vertical logo.svg
Agency overview
Formed July 21, 1930
(Cabinet rank 15 March 1989)
Preceding agency
  • Veterans Administration
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Veteran Affairs Building
810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, D.C., United States
17px-WMA_button2b.png38°54′3.25″N 77°2′5.37″W
Employees 27,000 (Est)
Annual budget $58.4 billion (2010)
Agency executives
Child agency
Website vba.va.gov


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