Where Has the VA Outrage Gone?
Just about a month ago, people were up in arms over the VA scandal. Yet now it is hard to find a word spoken about the incident, not considering the grandstanding the politicians are making with their endless committee meetings to discuss the problem. There was a reform bill just passed, but other veteran legislation remains as Congress and the president go on their summer hiatus. American Thinker spoke to some veterans and military organizations to get their feelings on the VA.
An Army sergeant who fought in the first Iraq War told American Thinker she was grateful for the outrage by American civilians but sees it as all talk and no action. “What are you willing to do for your country? Will you take a day off work to go protest at the local VA, or show up at your local government office to demand answers and action? Would you fight for your country? Would you put your life at risk? Probably not. As a veteran, I will tell you I did not join the Army for profit or personal gain. I enlisted for love of country. Call me a fool, but that was my motivation. Once again, the military will bear the full brunt of this war, and tragically, our own government is waging the war. Trust me when I tell you there is no greater act than to sacrifice for your countrymen. Current military, veterans, family, and friends who are in this fight will prevail, but they need Americans to stand up and help with the fight, not to forget about us as they go on vacation.”
Lillian Moss, a retired second class petty officer who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, told American Thinker her story. She wants people to understand that even after all the publicity, the VA is still not helpful to the veteran. Having retired because she was medically diagnosed with PTSD, Lillian was being treated at the Balboa Naval Medical Center of San Diego since 2010. Because the facility concentrates on active-duty personnel, she was being transitioned to the San Diego VA. Going on nine months, she had still not been placed in a PTSD therapy group that is specifically divided depending on the war the veteran fought in. “First they requested I attend an orientation. Why? I was already diagnosed and have even been given medication for my PTSD. I had to wait three months to even do that. I am still waiting to be placed in a therapy group and to see a psychologist or psychiatrist.”
She also wants people to know that after four months, the VA assigned her to have an ‘intake session,'” which is basically where a veteran goes over his or her medical history. However, on July 8, the person she was assigned to see refused because she was allergic to Lillian’s service dog. She now has to wait until August 15. Even though her medical records have been computerized anytime she sees someone in the VA, Lillian must go over her medical history, which is a waste of her time and the attendants' time.
Her basic complaint is that there is way too much red tape, which increases the wait time to see a physician. Joyce Raezer, the executive director of the National Military Family Association believes that veterans were given a sacred promise that was broken. “Bureaucratic failures are the worst kept secret in the world. The solution must include a massive culture change that needs to be better organized and to rid itself of the layers of bureaucracy. Access must be a quality issue. Unfortunately, a lot of our vets will accept the wait rather than demand an earlier appointment. The problem is, there are not enough doctors to go around including those with years of experience. Maybe the VA needs to help pay for someone’s medical training in return for a commitment to serve so many years at the VA.”
A current Army Ranger sympathizes with his peers. He thinks that active-duty medical facilities are a lot better than the VA. “I get frustrated when I try to make an appointment for my children. I cannot comprehend how people are forced to wait weeks or months. Can you imagine if someone who is deployed says, ‘Well, I think I will wait a month before I decide to go’? We should get the same service that we provide to this nation. Look: combat units work together to make a mission successful and those individuals working at the VA from the case worker to the doctor must work as a team as well.”
Why not get rid of the VA and allow veterans to see their own doctor? Sharon, a retired Army Lt. Colonel who worked closely with the VA as a wounded warrior advocate believes this is not a solution. “Veterans might agree to see a primary care physician for non-combat related issues. In the long run, I am confident that it will be cheaper than maintaining all the facilities and personnel. However, the solution needs to be flexible and individual-based. What must be taken into consideration are the veterans who attend the VA because they feel civilians do not understand them and their problems. The VA has built expertise around certain health issues affecting military personnel.”
Lillian agrees and explained to American Thinker that that is why she will not go to an outside psychologist. “I would have to see someone with PTSD experience, or they would not understand all the military acronyms. It would become frustrating, having to explain things about the military because that would eat into the time allotted for the session.”
Lillian and other veterans like her are crying out for help. They must deal with people who are not being held accountable. Most of us in the civilian world never accept the incompetence, red tape, and wait time to see a doctor and resolve a medical problem. Americans should expect the VA to provide timely quality care to its veterans, who risked their lives to keep us safe.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.