"The political spectacle that has arisen over the VA debacle would be amusing from a political perspective if it were not so serious."
The recent Veterans Administration (VA) health care debacle has many veterans in America wondering just when the foolishness will end and real change will happen.
Veterans from prior conflicts as well as the war in Afghanistan are looking at the VA and wondering just what this administration is doing. Veterans organizations are up in arms and like President Obama are, 'Mad as hell.'
So what happenedWell...a VA medical center in Phoenix, Arizona has apparently kept a secret list of veterans, one that excluded them from receiving the health care they needed. The result of this list is that some veterans died while waiting for health care. Why was this secret list maintained? It was kept so that some VA personnel at this center could receive bonuses by demonstrating they were achieving health care goals.
|The VA Health Care Debacle|
|Obama, 'Mad as hell'|
|Phoenix VA held secret list of vets|
|Veterans organizations extremely upset|
|Prevented veterans from getting health care so VA personnel could receive bonuses|
Please understand that veterans in America have been the equivalent of a political football forever in America. Here we are in another election year and what do you know? Veterans are once again the subject of political back and forth. Mr. Shinseki, who was in charge of the VA if you do not count the Commander in Chief, has resigned and President Obama has accepted his resignation. Mr. Obama himself has stated that he is, "Mad as hell." Veterans organizations such as Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the American Legion are screaming mad.
Veterans and Political Wrangling
The political spectacle that has arisen over the VA debacle would be amusing from a political perspective if it were not so serious. Both Democrats and Republicans are up in arms, much like Veteran Service Organizations (VSO's). Both of these political parties in America are pointing fingers; it is always someone else's fault of course. While Mr. Shinseki has resigned, many people are wondering where the Commander in Chief's resignation is too. Others are wondering why Congress has not been nailed to the wall - after all, Congress holds the financial strings to the VA.
Do not expect the finger pointing and political nonsense to end anytime soon. Both Democrats and Republicans just love pointing fingers and placing blame anywhere but on their own actions. Both of these parties in America are looking to get their faces on television, their voices heard on radio and through the news during an election year. For veterans, actions on the parts of these politicians will likely be minor and result in little change.
One Veteran's Perspective
I am a 40% rated veteran with disabilities. My service resulted in epilepsy, a disability I will have for the remainder of my life. The Army presented me with an honorable discharge and a 10% disability rating; I had to fight for the 40% rating I now have. I suggest that it is not only VA health care that needs a work over - it is the disability rating system that needs examining as well.
One of the first questions that entered my mind when this debacle first arose was, 'Where was all of this years ago' It is not like issues with VA health care have just suddenly appeared - veterans have been reporting problems with VA health care for years. The sudden appearance of this secret list and issues with VA health care smells very loudly of election year posturing to me.
|One Veteran's Perspective|
|Where was all of this years ago|
|The VA's Disability Rating System is shot|
|Being there for vets means more than health care|
|The VA has some great health care professionals but...|
|Every vet with less than a 100% rating deserves at least a 10% raise in their rating|
|Turning vets into an election year topic only makes Democrats and Republicans look worse|
As for the VA's disability rating system - I have personally met veterans with everything from amputations to PTSD who have struggled with the rating system, or even achieving a disability rating from the VA, for lengthy periods of time. You do not hear Democrats or Republicans screaming about this major issue. It truly makes me look down on politicians because they do not seem to have any real concern about veterans.
Why do I say the politicians of America do not care about veterans? If the disabilities rating system were adequate, veterans would have the money to take better care of themselves to be plain. They would not require as much health care from VA medical centers. Yet everyone from the Commander in Chief to members of Congress keep the disability rating system in antiquity.
Every single veteran with disabilities in America who does not have a 100% disability rating from the Veterans Administration (VA) needs to receive at least a 10% increase in their disability rating at once. The VA has apparently messed up health care to such an extent that Mr. Shinseki has resigned - very telling when it comes to the VA as a whole. Being there for veterans means more than just their health care.
For example; the VA doesn't care about the teeth veterans have in their mouths. Dental care at the VA is so limited there is a saying: 'How do you know a person is a veteran? By their big, toothless grin.' I guess, 'health care,' from a VA perspective includes some parts of a veteran's body, but not their teeth. Veterans are supposed to take care of their own dental woes, but a 40% rating for example finds a veteran receiving $577 a month. The amount won't even cover the rent for most veterans, let alone pay the high cost of dental care.
Please do not misunderstand me, the VA has some exceptional health care professionals working for them. It is not like the VA does not try to provide excellent health care; they do. Many of the people working for the VA are veterans themselves. One of the biggest issues with the VA is members of Congress - they hold the proverbial purse strings and the VA has to work with what they have. Meanwhile, a few greedy so-and-so's have chosen their pocket books over the lives of veterans.
Turning veterans into an election year football makes me sick, to be plain. Turning veterans into a political issue makes Democrats and Republicans look worse than they already do in my eyes. If real change is going to come to the Veterans Administration; if the politicians of America truly want to show they care about the veterans who have served this nation, a few things need to happen. I am waiting to see if the leaders of this nation really do care, or if this is just political posturing using veterans.
Number One: The disability rating of every single veteran in America who does not have a 100% disability rating MUST increase by at least 10% at once. Ensuring that every veteran in America with disabilities has adequate income to care for themselves is vital to ensuring the success of the mission of the Veterans Administration as well as the health of veterans.
Number Two: Veterans Administration employees MUST have anonymous, online and mail options available to them to report wrong-doing at VA facilities. The options must be in place so VA employees can report wrong-doing without fear of recrimination. Reports filed must be followed up by independent, non-VA personnel who have every reason to pursue the claims.
Number Three: Veterans ourselves must have the same options available to us to report feedback and any complaints concerning the VA to independent personnel. We must have the ability to provide this feedback and any complaints so the VA can realistically respond. If the VA does not know what it is doing wrong, how can it possibly improve? Internal reports from VA personnel are clearly valuable, but the VA is there for veterans.
The politicians of this nation need to spend the time they have been spending on television and news reporting on the creation of veteran-supporting legislation instead. They need to quit the political posturing and actually create legislation that will improve the lives of veterans in America instead of wasting time pointing fingers and wrangling for a better election year position. Until they do, this veteran will seriously consider any party in America other than Democratic or Republican; neither of which have changed the VA for the better after this debacle.
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