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    Posted June 3, 2014 by
    Okinawa, Japan
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    The VA is DOA


    This article was originally published in Marine Corps Times: 20 January 2014


    Socialized medicine. Yes. The Veterans Administration is socialized medicine. But it works, within reason, and everyone knows it.

    There is a belief that the VA is personalized care. It is personalized only in the sense that a service member is seen individually during their appointment. Because of this the VA needs to self-actualize they will never be a dynamic and proactive organization.
    Although the VA does provide a great deal of services they are titanically overwhelmed by service members requesting treatment. Case in point, there are countless numbers of service members suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress who desperately require treatment. When a person calls typically they need immediate attention, i.e., within the next 15 to 30 minutes. But the usual VA response is to set up an appointment beyond the next 30 days.

    Each service member is the toughest and strongest individual in all manner of speaking. This is not a debatable point. It is self-evident. Every one of us is tough as nails. We endure hardships that would psychologically dismantle a normal individual. With that being said, none of us (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard) will readily admit to weakness. So we wait and wait until the stress begins to fracture. In other words, when we actually call the VA, we are at that point of no-return. When a veteran actually asks for help, it is our 911 or as we say in civilian aviation, MAYDAY/PAN-PAN and squawk 7700.

    The VA has no staffing capability to handle the increased mental health case load. Even with the external/internal support from the Vet Center system, the VA can never provide the necessary medical treatment for all veterans. For the VA to aggressively increase timely medical treatment they need to begin contracting out to private treatment facilities. As a side note, the VA has created a very impressive program using a process known as Cognitive Processing Therapy. Even with this great program it will never make a small dent in the current backlog. Unfortunately, this means increasing an already strained and fractured U.S. Government budget.

    Do we now pick and choose which U.S. Government agency should be funded? Do we let our environment turn into sludge because there is a misguided misinterpretation of the significance and importance of the Environmental Protection Agency? Do we dissolve the Federal Emergency Management Agency because, again, we do not understand the grave importance of a Federal agency with emergency response capabilities?

    Anyone with a sense of fiscal growth knows you spend money to make money, e.g., debt is a constant. Ask Ulysses S. Grant about the budget crisis after the Civil War. Ask Warren G. Harding the same question about fiscal recovery after World War I. Ask Bill Clinton about balancing the budget five times and creating a positive budget cash flow. Debt is a constant. Life will go on. Fiscal apocalypse demagoguery is counterproductive, condescending, and dishonorable.

    We need to understand the importance of caring for our veterans. Spend the money. We spend the money now to care for our veterans now. Period. As it stands now, the VA is DOA. Until we make an aggressive concerted effort to dynamically expand the VA they will not be able to handle the massive increase in veterans requesting VA services and benefits now or in the future.

    The VA can make all of the extravagant statements they want. But the facts are indisputable. Veterans are still homeless. Veterans are still committing suicide. Veterans are not receiving timely attention and care.

    Until we actively forego the straw man argument of fiscal death due to debt ceiling we will never resuscitate the VA to what it should be.

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