The VA – is it good or bad? Mixed Bag

 In opinion, Politics, Veterans

There have been a large number of people respond to yesterday’s article on the Edward Hines Jr VA hospital. Is the VA ALL bad? Of course not. There are many people at the Edward Hines VA hospital that care, or there wouldn’t be “whistleblowers,” or employees who send pictures to the news media. There are doctors who take their Hippocratic oath seriously and are frustrated with administration, or they wouldn’t have sent an email saying that there was a problem. They do their utmost to save lives. There are many all across the nation who work in VA hospitals with the focus in saving the lives of our veterans. But there are also those who do not.

I received a fairly nasty email yesterday regarding that article. I get a lot of hate in what I do, mostly trolls, some who don’t have a clue, others that just want to hate on me. But let me set the record straight on a few things: I receive hundreds of requests to do stories from veterans every year regarding abuses and problems with the VA. Hopefully, the Trump administration will finally get a handle on those hundreds of problems.

Since I’m just one person, I have to pick and choose what I write. I chose the Edward Hines story because I had written on them previously several times. This guy was upset that I “regurgitated” the story from someone else and had a plethora of complaints.

 

The VA’s response to all media requests is to say that they are “working on it.” But sometimes saying that is not enough. And I believe that Dr. David Shulkin, the VA Secretary, is trying. But there are some systemic issues that need to be addressed. The wait time issue is being addressed fairly well, with new regulations, if those regulations will be followed. The Veteran’s Choice Program is being expanded with the signing of the new bill. Things are happening. But veterans are STILL having issues. And a lot of it is red tape, bureaucracy, and sometimes even lack of caring administration.

I interviewed a Vietnam veteran 3 years ago, Richard Phenneger, who heads a program that works to get help for veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange. He went to veteran’s groups, the VA- even high up in the organization, and found appalling lack of acceptance for claims. Sometimes the criteria is too restrictive. Sometimes the first answer is always “no” and it gets fixed later. Some Agent Orange designations have finally been changed.

So to address that email: I do my best to research everything. There are countless incidents out there where I do not do a story because of lack of response from the other parties, or other issues, or maybe the person sending it to me was incorrect. It has nothing whatsoever to do with “sensationalizing” something. It has to do with getting the word out so that whoever is reading can get it fixed.

There are countless veterans who have been saved by VA medical staff. They do it every day in every VA hospital across the country. But when something is wrong, that’s when it needs fixing.

If there weren’t thousands of veterans who have died, I wouldn’t have to write anything at all.

 

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