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The Reality Behind the Latest VA Scandal

By Mo Breden

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As you may or may not know, my blog posts started out politically oriented. Today, I want to talk about reality and politics. And, as you may or may not know, politics has no basis in reality–at least in this current case involving the VA.

Reality #1 – The Congress of the United States funds the VA. Congress also sets standards and limitations on the VA.

Several years ago the VA was primarily caring for service-connected veterans. That is, veterans who obtained an injury, disease or disability during their military service. In cases where veterans were indigent, for whatever reason, the VA also took care of them. Then Congress decided the VA would see all veterans, not just those with service-connected disabilities. Congress provided funding, but even at that time it was not sufficient for the job the VA was now tasked with.

Reality #2 – Wars. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan significantly increased the responsibilities of the VA.

Once a veteran has been injured, they receive care from the service to which they were commissioned or enlisted. Once they are discharged, that service no longer provides care. All care, all medical, all administrative, and psychological is provided by VA Healthcare facilities. VA has struggled for years to take excellent care of our nations veterans with the funding that was voted for or mostly against by the Congress of the United States. Many of the same members of Congress who have voted against bills that would benefit veterans are now calling for the resignation of the Secretary of the VA, and railing that the VA is a huge bureaucracy that is inadequate at best.

Reality #3 – Keeping separate appointment lists is plain wrong.

I cannot defend the keeping of separate appointment lists. During my tenure with the VA, (yes, I was with the VA for the majority of my civil service career, as an IT Specialist and then as an IT Manager), I was known as a bit of a pit bull when it came to keeping separate lists, or books of appointments. With the computerization of the Medical Centers, keeping paper lists became harder and harder for those who were inclined to do it, especially with me around. However, understand this, if you understand nothing else about this blog. The reason the people in Phoenix kept separate lists was because they didn’t have the money (not authorized by Congress)
to hire the doctors, and nurses and administrative staff to allow for appointments for those veterans within the 15 days Congress requires that the veterans be scheduled. That is why. But it’s still wrong.

Reality of The VA Medical Centers and Outpatient Clinics in the United States:

The VA is the largest healthcare system in the world. VA provides medical care to veterans in all 50 states and places like Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. A veteran can receive all medical care from the James A. Haley VA Hospital, in Tampa, get on a plane and go to any other state or territory where the VA treats patients, get sick, go to the VA, and medical records from Tampa will be available with a click, to the practitioners caring for that veteran. Can you say the same thing about your healthcare? I know you can’t.

When Katrina devasted the gulf coast of the United States, medical records in the private sector, were gone, blown away. Veterans, who were displaced following the storm, were able to go to any VA medical facility, and all of their medications, discharge summaries, and visit notes were available to the provider caring for them.

My experience has shown me that the men and women, who work at VA, take a special pride in the care they provide to veterans. From day one of employment, each employee knows that their jobs are not just clerical, nursing, or medical. Each employee knows that paramount in their job description is the trust of the American People to care for those who have born the battle, and their widows and orphans. If I may speak for VA employees, we always knew that we owed the men and women who walked through our doors, and our treatment of them reflected that always. It is a sacred trust and one, not taken lightly by any of my co-workers, through the years.

Bottom line, keeping separate lists is wrong, and those who employed wrong measures need to first explain their actions and then, justice needs to be handed down as appropriate. But to scrap the VA, to flush the hard work of so many good, caring people through the years is also wrong.

Think about it, and if you have any questions, please ask them following this posting in the comments section.

Thanks for stopping by to read my post; I hope to see yas next week, for Life with Mo.

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