Sunday, June 01, 2014

On the VA’s Growing Crisis

We won't say we told you so.

But we have this to say about the VA's systemic problems across the nation [as the VA's own Office of Inspector General puts it]:

We have on many occasions, both here, and in the offices of Congressional Representatives and Senators, called for the issuance of a Veterans Medical Card issued to ALL Veterans, that would be lawfully backed for mandatory acceptance around the country the same as a Medicare card, but with no deductibles. 

Why would we call for such a broad based program?  Simple: the practical side of things is that, generally, a Veteran does not know, at least initially, that what is wrong with him or her is service-connected.  So rather than take the chance that it might be a serious complication, the card will give him the opportunity to seek immediate treatment locally, from civilian medical facilities, rather than get caught up in a waiting line for appointments like we are hearing on the new about the VA.

Why would we force our Veterans to wait for care at a facility that is overwhelmed by the numbers coming through the door, and why would we force our Veterans to receive a less than thorough examination because it is 3 PM and the physician still has a dozen patients to see?

The VA will never, ever, be large enough, have enough staff, and be management-competent enough to care for our Veterans in the numbers we create with our wars, no matter how much money Congress throws at it. Even if it were to become that large, how could it competently provide the requisite care and access to care?  It cannot, and never will.

Congress should have realized this decades ago.  They knew.  It is why we have said more than once that the problems in the VA, the ones appearing now, and others that will emerge as investigations continue, should be laid at the feet of everyone who has served as a member of the US Congress over the past thirty years. 

The Veterans Medical Card will be much less expensive than ambitious building projects and incrementally expensive staffing and equipping if the VA would content itself medically to providing long term care for the aged and infirm Veterans who require such care, and work with patients in rehabilitation, as well as providing regular eye care, dental and prosthetics and orthotics care and rehabilitation.

Some in Congress and nearly all the national Veterans Organizations are calling for a medical card approach, but none so far have advocated for the total coverage for all Veterans.  It begs only one question:

Do we owe our Veterans anything less than this?  Did not these same Veterans agree to put their lives in harm's way at the command of the US government?  It may not seem like it at the time, but that decision to enlist is an extremely weighty one.  It is usually not until later in life that one realizes fully what that enlistment oath really meant.  Your life is totally in the hands of the US military, to be used in any way it sees fit. 

In preparation for this, the military trains you, hones you to a fine level of readiness, and gives you the best equipment it can, and its leaders are trained to put you in the best position possible to prevail, and survive.

Do we not owe our Veterans as much?

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

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