PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Veterans are experiencing improved mental health, better coping skills, and a generally increased sense of well-being, thanks to a therapy group that has formed during the endless hours in Veterans Administration waiting room at the Providence VA Medical Center, Duffel Blog has learned.
“Bob and I sat next to each other for more than eight hours one day, and we just got to talking," said retired Air Force Master Sgt. Doug "Bubba" Ween. "Now, we see each other every Tuesday morning in the VA waiting room, and we have five or six others who join in while they wait. I have to say, after four months of therapy with Bob, I am feeling really good about things.”
Ween is referring to fellow retired Air Force Master Sgt. Bob Greenstein. Both Air Force veterans are also Providence Rhode Island VA medical center waiting room veterans as well.
"I once waited 7 hours before they told me my doctor went home sick early," Ween commented. "But somehow I think Bob has waited on hold for longer in trying to schedule an appointment."
Unofficial VA reports show Providence Medical Center is seeing an uptick in waiting room therapy while actual real therapy sessions with VA doctors are still backlogged for months. Staff have begun to complain that members of the group aren't following procedure.
"I think they're just reminiscing about the old days," said Center Public Affairs specialist Beth Yokel. "Only certified VA therapists are able to solve these veteran's issues."
But veterans report excellent care and virtually no wait times in the waiting rooms: “The best part about this waiting room therapy is that Bubba always has time for me," Greenstein said. "He never tries to rush me. He doesn't push medication on me. He just listens while drinking the free waiting room coffee."
"The best part is that there is no wait," said Ray Trojan, a Gulf War veteran who preferred to not share his service or rank. "I was talking about my Gulf War Syndrome with the group within three minutes of first taking my number."
Meanwhile the VA hopes to get involved to help in the waiting rooms as well. "We're looking into the efficacy of this technique and we expect to start filing the requests for a study in the next quarter or three," Ms Yokel added.
“I can’t wait to tell my actual doctor about this. Whenever I actually get to see him, that is,“ Greenstein said.