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When You’re A Veteran At Dealing With Veterans

, , , , , , | Healthy | May 26, 2023

I’m doing a rotation in a Veterans Affairs Hospital as an optometry student right now, so most of the patients I see are older and “wiser”.

An eighty-three-year-old in suspenders comes in because he failed the vision portion of his driver’s test. New glasses are given, and then the patient is THOROUGHLY educated on the importance of wearing his glasses while driving; without them, he would be driving illegally. He says he gets it.

A few days later, he comes back for the dilated portion of his eye exam. I ask him to put on his glasses.

Patient: “Didn’t bring ’em.”

Me: “Did you drive here today?”

Patient: “Yes.”

Me: “Remember that we told you it was illegal for you to drive without your glasses?”

Patient: “I see better without them.”

Me: “Did you pass your driver’s test?”

Patient: “Yes.”

Me: “Were you wearing your glasses?”

Patient: “Yes.”

Me: “So, if you passed the test while wearing the glasses but failed it while not wearing them, you understand that you must wear your glasses to drive legally with an unrestricted license?”

Patient: “I don’t have any restrictions on my license!”

He pulls out his license to show me.

The rest of the exam is basically me trying to explain why he’s got to wear the bottlecaps and him telling me that he’s never been in a car accident, that he’s driven across the US through all but three states, and that he drives much better than his buddy who wears glasses.

As I am checking him out:

Patient: “Are you going to turn me in?”

Me: “You are legal to drive with an unrestricted license as long as you wear your glasses. You’re going to get a buddy to pick you up today, and you’re going to come back for your car later while wearing glasses, right?”

Patient: “Right.”

The VA motto is “Respect Your Veterans.” I wrote in his chart that I educated him THOROUGHLY again and that he understood… because the unwritten VA motto is “Cover Your A**.”

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