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Peter; Yes the VA is a different sort of animal alright but it can be worked with. They have a program called "veteran's choice" where outside assistance can be authorized and paid for through the VA.I have no idea if it will apply in your situation but you should certainly check into it. See your local VA rep or you could try the direct route by calling the VA facility you are connected with. If you have been put on the disabled list due to your cancer (if it is deemed service related), That will be a big factor in attaining your goal. Problem is, this can take some time. You need to speak with your local VA rep. They are pretty much aware of all the things that are needed to make this work and are good advisors.
I went through my private ins. even though I had boots on the ground in Vietnam multiple times as a flying crew chief. After fifty years, I didn't have the proof needed to validate my "boots on the ground" claim. (We used to carry agent orange as cargo so I am convinced it got me but that is not proof for the VA.) Hope you have better luck! Jon R.