Failing Our Veterans in Their Time of Need

thankyouWe ask them to commit to extraordinary training, grueling physical and mental conditioning, to go off to a distant land, to face the challenges of foreign languages and alien cultures, and to face enemies who make the brutality of the medieval world look like child’s play.  They do these things voluntarily with little reward and grave risk, because it is their country’s time of need, it is our time of need.  Often—more often than not—and far too often—when they return home, the circumstances evince that it is their time of need.  The question for us becomes whether we will rise to the occasion of their need.  Despite no risk of mortal danger, or any danger for that matter, no potential disruption to our lives, no call to endure grueling training, we fail.


There has been a tremendous amount of media exposure lately about the Veteran’s Administration (VA).  The VA’s failures have been numerous, despicable, heartbreaking, inexcusable, and worthy of every negative adjective anyone could enunciate.  It is beyond insulting that our servicemen and women would be subjected to undue delays—deliberate or otherwise—to failures in obtaining appointments, test results and medical records, to hospital records being manipulated to conceal massive amounts of mistreatment.  The dozens of deaths that have resulted are bad enough, but only slightly less tragic is the travesty of the painful and unnecessary inconveniences we so cavalierly foist upon those who have risen to the occasion of our needs.  Even if there were no deaths, the delays alone are unjust and inexcusable.


Why do we have a VA?  Is it working?  Is there a more effective alternative?  I am sure its creation was with all the best intentions, but is it even necessary or worthwhile?  Without reviewing the governmental press releases at the time the VA was announced, and without researching the legislative history behind its formation, I could readily imagine the tone of it.  It probably went something like the following:


These honorable Americans deserve to be treated with respect and the utmost care our country can give. We need to ensure that no veteran is forgotten or ignored.  And so, we have created the VA, an organization dedicated exclusively to the medical care of our veterans, who served us in our time of need, and whom now we will serve in theirs.


Boy!  What a miserable failure on our part.  How about this?  Rather than have a governmental bureaucracy—with all of the inefficiency, corruption and insensitivity the government usually brings to bear on things—why not issue all veterans a VA health care card, which automatically entitles them to health care, paid for by the VA, from any health care provider of their choosing.  No VA hospitals. Veterans can go to any doctor, any hospital, receive any treatment. The VA’s sole function would be to ensure that the treatment was indeed rendered to a veteran, and that the system is not being abused unnecessarily. Insurance carriers perform similar functions each and every day.  Without doing an extensive cost analysis, my guess is it would not be much more expensive than the VA costs us today, but even if it were more costly, it would be a small price to pay in order to rise to the occasion of the needs of our veterans, who so readily rose to the occasions of our needs.


God Bless America and God bless all those who have served and continue to serve to keep current and future generations safe and free!