Montana Public Radio: New Missoula clinic aims to streamline veterans’ disability exams

by Shaylee Ragar

A new Missoula clinic aims to streamline the process for veterans to receive disability benefits. It’s the first of its kind in the state.

A contractor with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will offer medical disability exams at its new Missoula clinic.

Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, spoke at a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday.

“Any veteran who’s applied for VA benefits knows that medical disability exams are the most critical part of that application. However, way too often it’s also the most time consuming part,” Tester said.

The clinic, run by Leidos QTC Health Services, will provide up to 500 physical, dental and mental health exams a month. Prior to its opening, Montana veterans often had to travel long distances or wait for months for an exam.

Wait times have increased since the passing of the PACT Act, which opened up new benefits last fall to veterans exposed to harmful toxins.

However, starting March 5, toxin-exposed veterans will be able to enroll directly in VA health care without having to apply.

While clinics designed specifically for veterans’ disability exams operate in large cities across the country, Montana is now home to the first and only in any adjacent state.