It is a bad case of embarrassing irony that we celebrate Memorial Day 2014 under the ugly cloud of the nation’s sub-par Veterans Affairs healthcare system that came to light recently. The powers that manage the nation’s military healthcare system really should be appalled beyond saving face.
When the men and women of this nation who sacrifice all things personal to protect our precious liberties and freedoms healthcare system falls below that of an army field medic we all need to demand a reform of that system.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that “someone has to be accountable” for the growing allegations of misconduct and treatment delays at Veterans Affairs hospitals, but the focus of the investigation should be to “fix the problem” rather than fire VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
I agree with the Defense Secretary. I also know that this issue should not become obscured in vengeful politics. The blame game has already gotten underway by opponents of the Obama Administration looking for primary election ammunition. The fact of the matter is the VA healthcare problems predate the Obama Administration.
Some of the VA’s problems are so wrought with incompetency they are actually unbelievable. The VA does not know how many veterans are in its system. There is the distribution of VA healthcare facilities that looks like the result of some happenstance procedure. The whole debacle is compounded by allegations of veterans dying while awaiting healthcare from VA hospitals.
The VA’s closest estimate of patients in their system comes from Sept 30, 2013 and has 21,972,964 patients as being in the system. The greatest number of veterans are over age 65, 44 percent of the estimated population. The under 30 group of veterans numbers less than a million, just four percent of the total.
Then there is the distribution of VA healthcare facilities. There does not appear to be any rhyme or reason behind the distribution of the facilities across the nation. For example, three states have more than ten VA hospitals. New York has 15, Texas has 13 and Pennsylvania has 11. New York has one hospital for every 65,690 veterans. Texas has an average of 129,981 veterans for each of its VA hospitals. Pennsylvania sits in the middle with one hospital for every 94,142 veterans. In 2013, the number of VA hospitals numbered 182. There was one in every state and Puerto Rico. The VA’s estimates from 2011, suggest that there are an average of 126,042 veterans for each of the 182 hospitals.
Then there is this inexcusable debacle by the VA. Media reports reveal that the VA’s elementary record keeping and haphazard triage approach to veteran’s care is allegedly the reason behind the deaths of some 40 veterans. These revelations spurred allegations of cover-ups and “book cooking”. At that point, the President spoke on it. He stated he would not stand for any incompetent and illegal activity. He laid off throwing embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki completely under the bus. The President did confirm an internal investigation was initiated into the operations of the VA.
Having drawn the ire of the President should initiate a plan of action to resolve this gross mismanagement veteran’s healthcare. At the least we can be assured it will not be swept under the rug of Washington’s political theater. Having drawn the ire of the nation assures that Memorial Day 2014 will be a hallmark for something directly related to the benefit of our veterans. We as a nation are obligated to see that the people that take care of us are afforded the care they need when they need it.
Memorial Day is the opportune occasion for the nation to reinforce the importance of reciprocating the care back to our military personnel they so generously have given us. It is a twofold opportunity to pay homage to those that sacrificed their lives and those living that deserve the best possible medical care possible.