A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trouble at the VA

If it wasn’t for the fact that veterans are dying needlessly, the rising chorus of indignation/consternation/outrage from Republican Congressional leaders would be hysterical. As it is, their posturing is hypocritical.

My father qualified for VA benefits and he would travel (thirty+ miles) to the nearest facility in Wilkes-Barre. There he was tested and treated for his diabetes. Every visit would conclude with the scheduling of a follow up appointment. This was sometime in the early Bush (the Younger) term. About this time Bush launched two wars, and cut taxes as per his campaign promise. If memory serves me correctly, the VA was not spared the funding cuts required by his lower tax pledge.

Subsequently, my Dad’s follow up visits were not automatically scheduled, and he was told to call if he had problems and an appointment would be set up. Within a few years, Dad was diagnosed with cancer and given a window of 18 months to live. He died in 2005, and I recall thinking at the time that his seemingly sudden decline was due to his decreased level of care at the VA facility.

Ironically, that was the same year the VA was called the best place to get health care in the country. Within two years, an embarrassing set of accounts, with accompanying photos, demonstrated the deterioration of services and physical structure of the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington DC. At that time, the hospital was the flagship medical facility for the US Army. Resignations followed, and the facility itself was closed in 2011 as part of a realignment of the military. So what happened?

Well, there was an increase in demand for medical services throughout the system. Remember Bush’s two wars? The men and women fighting those wars came home to continue fighting their own personal psychological battles. They required and rightly deserved treatment at the military facilities.

Many other veterans who were otherwise uninsured sought out services at the VA once the Affordable Care Act took effect. Veterans who either did not get previous medical attention for their illnesses, and/or did not realize they had health care benefits through the VA, were seemingly overnight showing up at VA facilities. The result now is an over burdened system which has now translated in long delays for veterans seeking treatment.

Yet, to hear Republican leadership tell it, the long wait times at VA facilities are all Obama’s fault.

The current VA problems aren’t necessarily stemming from a lack of resources. Funding for the VA has been at record levels for the past five years. Yet somehow the historic funding levels wasn’t enough to satisfy demand.
As conservatives fume, liberal pundits have been more than happy to point out that a $21 billion spending package to increase VA benefits could not pass the Senate in February. At that time, it was revealed that the bill failed due to lack of support from Congressional Republicans. So much for GOP hypocrisy.

As of now, an outraged President is holding off on calling for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shineski pending the result of an internal report. This is only fair. The true culprits of this scandal may be further down the chain of command.

Or they could be sitting in Congress itself.

In any case, it’s all too late for my dad, but I have no regrets. Dad lived a nice full life despite the smoking habit that ultimately took him. All the political posturing on both sides of the aisle won’t help the vets that are still very much alive.

(Thank you for reading.)


Blogger Ur-spo said...

I doubt the VA will improve as it has too immovable problems: tons of paperwork and bad staff they can't eject without endless time/energy/money.

June 1, 2014 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Harpers Keeper said...

We need to find a way to honor our commitment to those who served while acknowledging the current system may be hopelessly broken. In the mortgage industry there were proposals for years to give Vets a preference in housing terms but process their loans through the FHA. HUD was not dream of efficiency but their programs could be tweaked to give Vets the same benefit without the whole infrastructure of a separate, cabinet level, loan provider.The republicans always screamed it was eliminating the benefit. It wasn't true but it played well.

The current tea publicans have no interest in solutions of any kind. They want to cut benefits to all who receive them because anyone who isn't a corporation that received government money is a freeloader. Seeing the system fail while blaming a Democrat is a win/win for them

June 3, 2014 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Ah, the wonderful crimson tape of bureaucracy! Don't you just love it? Thanks for writing Ur-spo!.

Thanks for your thoughts Harper's Keeper. And how many Congressional committees are being convened about the issues you mentioned? Oh, right, the tea publicans are in charge! Never mind!

June 5, 2014 at 8:03 AM  

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