RI Veterans: Did you know? 8 July 21 – John A. Cianci

 by John A Cianci, Department Veterans Service Officer,  Italian American War Veterans (ITAM)

Editor’s Note: John has gotten requests for assistance and information from veterans as far away as North Carolina and D. C. – so pleased to be able to bring everyone in need this information. Know a Vet? Send them the weekly column – you never know when it might help someone.

Eligible Veterans Options for Free Community Urgent Care”

Veterans Benefits… Did you know?

Did you know about the FREE VA urgent care benefit will let veterans enrolled in the VA health care system visit a civilian urgent care provider for free – without an appointment.

The urgent care benefit does not require VA pre-approval at locations in-network; the community care provider will verify your eligibility for urgent care services.

VETTIP. Recommend you verify with the VA you are eligible for this benefit by calling 1-800-698-2411 BEFORE you need to use the benefit.You will probably need to do this only once, but it’s a good idea to make sure everything is squared away. If you visit an urgent care provider when you aren’t eligible, or you get medical treatment that isn’t covered under the new program, you’ll be on the hook for the full amount of the bill.

The program was a result of passage of the Mission Act in 2019. This program allows veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system and who have visited a VA doctor, or a civilian doctor under the VA Choice program, to see an urgent care doctor for free under certain circumstances.

The VA says that most types of urgent care are covered under this program, including bee stings, earaches, eye infections/irritations, sprains, fever, minor cuts and lacerations, sports-related injuries, etc.

Simply put, use the community care urgent for any minor injury.

An example of a community urgent care need – you are visiting relatives in Harrisville, RI and fall. Appears you have sprained, but abundance of caution, you want to have exam. spraining or possibly breaking your ankle. Unsure of the extent of the injury, you can use a local community urgent care services facility as long as:

  1. You are enrolled in VA healthcare and have used the VA Healthcare in the last 24 months and
  2. Go to an in-network urgent care provider, and
  3. Have VA Identification card, or in the alternative you don’t have your VA-ID, a government issued photo ID, and
  4. The provider verifies your eligibility by calling 888-901-6609.

If you go to an urgent care provider and are prescribed medicine, you are also eligible for a free 14-day supply of medications related to your condition.

The provider cannot charge you any fee. If you are required to pay a co-payment, the VA will bill you AFTER the visit, which is billed separately by the VA.Veterans in Priority Groups 1 to 5, as well as some veterans in Priority Group 6; can visit an authorized urgent care center for free up to three times every year. After that, each visit will cost $30. Veterans in Priority Groups 7 and 8 will have a $30 co-payment for each visit.

VETTIP – Recommend you print the Urgent Care Assistance card, and place it in a convenient location at your home. Additional, recommend you also have a copy in your car’s glove compartment. Following VETTIPS, we ensure you have needed information when you NEED IT. In addition, VETTIPS recommends PS to save the number in your mobile phone, 1-800-698-2411, under “VA URGENT CARE”.

To locate a provider for an injury occurring in Harrisville, RI, as an example:

Step 1 Go to VA webpage

Step 2 Determine the zip code, 02830 ,for Harrisville.

Step 3 Select facility urgent care.

Step 4 Click search, and the results will give you the VA in-network community urgent care facilities:

For help with urgent care eligibility and general questions, call MyVA411 (800-698-2411), select option 1, and then select option 1 again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1 Who is not eligible for the urgent care community benefit?

  1. A Veteran who is enrolled in the VA Healthcare system, however, he has not utilized the VA medical care in last 24 months. Simply put, he has not scheduled and attended his or her annual physical in the last 24 months.
  2. A veteran not enrolled in VA Healthcare.

Q2 Do I need any documents and or information from the provider of the urgent care?

Yes and no. VETTIP – I would ask for a document to support the visit. Moreover, ask the provider to document time and name of the person called to verify you’re eligible.

Q3 How do I locate a pharmacy to fill the prescription the community urgent care provider wrote for my injury?

To find an in-network pharmacy:

Use the VA Facility Locator to locate in-network pharmacy locations. You must visit an in-network pharmacy location in the same state as your urgent care visit to avoid any issues filling your urgent care prescription.

VA Facility Locator

Q4 What specific services are covered by the urgent care benefit?

Individual health conditions are complex and unique to each Veteran. As a result, and to encourage Veterans to seek care when they need it, VA does not publish a specific list of covered services. Preventive care and dental services are excluded.

Q5 Does urgent care cost anything?

No. You do not have to pay anything at the time of the visit. If you owe a copayment, VA will send you a bill. Copayments are $30, but your liability will depend on your assigned priority group and the number of times you have used your urgent care benefit in a calendar year. Learn more about urgent care copayments.

Q6  How does prescription medication work for urgent care?

VA will pay for or fill prescriptions for urgent care. For routine prescription medication longer than a 14-day supply, the prescription must be submitted to VA to be filled. Before filling the prescription, VA will verify the urgent care visit.

If there are issues filling your prescription in AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VI, VT, WI or WV, call 888-901-6609 for assistance. In AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA or WY, call 866-620-2071.

Q7 There are no urgent care clinics in my area. What do I do?

Contact your local VA medical facility to discuss options. Same-day primary and mental health services are available at all VA medical centers. In addition, VA continues to expand its contracted network of urgent care providers so that most Veterans are within a 30-minute drive time from their home to a network urgent care/retail location.

Q8 Can I use the in-network urgent care provider at my local pharmacy as my primary care provider?

No. Urgent care is not a replacement for services your primary care provider (PCP) offers. Use urgent care for treating minor, non-emergent illnesses and injuries. The urgent care benefit does not cover preventive health care offered by your primary care physician. Always consider talking with or seeing your PCP if you are concerned that the urgent care provider will not understand the complexities of your medical history or medications.

Q9. How do I know if I need urgent care or emergency care?

Urgent care is for non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries, such as strep throat, pink eye or a strained muscle. Emergency care is for an injury, illness or symptom so severe that a prudent layperson reasonably believes that delay in seeking immediate medical attention would be hazardous to life or health. Such life-threatening major illnesses or injuries could include severe chest pain, seizures, loss of awareness, heavy uncontrollable breathing or severe burns. For emergency care, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Please note that VA can only pay for a Veterans emergency care under certain conditions.

Q10 What if I arrive at an in-network urgent care location and have difficulty receiving care?

If the urgent care location is in AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS .KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, PR, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VI, VT, WI or WV, call 888-901-6609 for assistance. In AK, AS, AZ, CA, CO, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA and WY, call 866-620-2071.

Q11 Will VA reimburse beneficiary travel for urgent care?

VA will reimburse beneficiary travel for eligible Veterans that travel to receive community care. Payment will be made for the distance to either the nearest VA or community medical facility that could have provided the care or services. Payment will only be made on a one-way basis (e.g., not round-trip) for unscheduled care.

Q12 Are urgent care services provided at an emergency department covered by VA?

If the emergency department is part of VA’s contracted network and has agreed to furnish urgent care services in accordance with the contract requirements, VA can pay for these services for eligible Veterans under this benefit.

Q13 Can the urgent care benefit be used by a Veteran’s family member?

Only eligible Veterans can use this benefit. The benefit does not extend to family members and is non-transferrable.

Find VA Location Finder Tool
How to get assistance with pharmacy benefits tool


FREE GOLF every Wednesday, Buttonhole, Providence RI, 12:00-3:00pm Veterans, Active Military, and National Guard, can use the range or play 9 holes of golf at no charge. Simply sign-in at the Pro-Shop on Wednesday from noon to 3:00PM.

For more information, contact Don Wright, 401-421-1664 email [email protected].

FREE Thursday Golf Clinics, Buttonhole, Providence RI, for all Veterans and immediate family. June thru October from 5:00-7:00pm f.The golf clinics are opened to all levels of experiences. Equipment use is free. One ParaMobile golf cart is available. For more information, contact Don Wright, 401-421-1664 email [email protected].


Friday, August 6th11AM, “Rhode Island National Guard Summer Reunion”, Quonset Officers’ Club, 200 Lieutenant James Brown Road, North Kingstown.  Point of contact is Bob Antonelli at 401.996.3764, or via email at [email protected].  Cut-off date is Tuesday, August 3rd            

September 15-20, 2021, USMC Tankers Association Facility: Crown Plaza Providence-Warwick, 801 Greenwich Ave., Warwick RI 02886. Point of Contact Name: John Wear. Point of Contact Telephone: 719-495-5998. Point of Contact Email: [email protected] . Comments: The USMC Vietnam Tankers Association will be holding our 12th biennial reunion. Anyone who served with any of the Marine tank battalions or Ontos units in Vietnam . . . in any capacity is welcome!!!    

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, [email protected].


John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp For Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.