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One moment Ibrahim Hashi was a proud veteran, a Muslim serving in the U.S. Marine Corps as a way to be an example for his family and friends.

Then, shortly after he left military service and about a month before he began college, his left leg “went nuts,” like the kind of feeling you get when you sit too long.

The symptoms continued and worsened. He experienced long-lasting vertigo. It was difficult, he recalls, trying to perform well in college when he could barely walk and he experienced double vision.

But he didn’t tell anyone, in part because he didn’t want to call attention to himself.

“And I also didn’t know what was wrong with me, either,” he says. “I was confused. I didn’t know. I was thinking maybe it would go away.”

Before he went to the VA healthcare facility for treatment, Ibrahim wasn’t even aware such a system existed. But when he was leaving service, others told him about it and he became wary of it. After all, he recalls, at the time there was a bit of an anti-VA sentiment. But his experience quickly disproved the rumors.

When his symptoms persisted, Ibrahim sought treatment at a VA facility.

“There was no other way I could get health care,” he says of seeking treatment. “So, I did go to the VA, but I still didn’t really trust them until I had no choice.”

Medical staff there Initially treated him for vertigo. When the treatment didn’t work, they began a battery of tests, including a spinal tap that revealed he had MS.

Once he experienced the level of care and the educational aspects of treatment, he was more confident about the VA quality of care.

The treatment, itself, was top notch, including his receiving a medication that he understands few have had the opportunity to receive.

“That was another thing … I just could not accept that these people actually care about you,” he says of VA staff. They even became friends, allies in a joint mission, really, with Ibrahim’s parents.

“They’re integrated into my family, you know, where the doctors and my own family members are on a first name basis … It was so fast so that’s just a testament of how great the people at the VA are.”

At times, though, they keep Ibrahim on task, such as making sure his mom knows when he’s not as vigilant at taking his medication as he should be.

“The VA is great,” says the once skeptical Ibrahim.

“They’re equal to or better than private sector when it comes to heath care.”

Ibrahim learned about PVA at Advocacy Day on the Hill. He often takes the opportunity to share information about PVA and the many services it provides, such as the Medical Care Quality Review  team that works with the VA to ensure a high level of care. PVA is the only Veterans service organization that regularly audits VA hospitals’ quality healthcare and best practices.

Today the only lingering symptom Ibrahim experiences related to his MS is MS-related insomnia. He plans to go to graduate school and will likely look into PVA’s Veterans Career Program to help with the process.

Ibrahim says he’s “super grateful” for the care he received and hopes more people take advantage of it.

“It’s almost like the VA gave me like a life back.”

 

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