As vet care lags, we all are 'diminished'

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More than four centuries ago, the English poet John Donne famously said:

“Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in humanity.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.”

For whatever motives may be behind the veterans’ care revelations, the nation is witnessing a debacle of mammoth proportions. We feel the urge to vomit as the death toll from mounting deferred care, and the stories of neglect; falsification of records; phony waiting lists; absent accountability; inept and dishonest administration practices; and just plain sorry behavior fill the airwaves, Internet and daily newspapers. America is supposed to be better than this.

SPEAKING OF OUR veterans in past wars, several quotations are apropos.

Adm. Chester Nimitz said of the Marine invasion of Iwo Jima: “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” His words are ensconced on the Iwo Jima Memorial adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery.

“All gave some; some gave all.” Many people attribute this to Winston Churchill, speaking of troop losses in World War II.

“Truth is the first casualty of war.” Aschyleus, the ancient Greek playwright, wrote that, and is quoted by Oliver Stone in the movie Platoon.

We own an inestimable debt of gratitude to our veterans. What they have received, especially during the current administration, is abominable, even if only half of the stories reported by the media are true.

I am not writing to point fingers at those given impossible tasks by a president who has cut funding to defense and veterans’ care, and whose priorities are far from those of the nation’s defense, and the care and support of its heroic and even not-so-heroic veterans. Despite rolling up more deficit spending than all previous administrations, we still are not safe from terrorism, nor are we able or willing to expend the funds and energy to properly care for those who bear the wounds of war and the disorders that stem from it.

WE ARE, HOWEVER, able to fund every absent-minded social giveaway project that rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue, and send the president’s family on vacations worthy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, never failing to lavishly repay his “political debts” to supporters.

There is more to this than has been reported to date, and which many fail to realize.

What is playing out before the eyes of the nation is not just a nasty spectacle of the way our veterans have been neglected. The bigger picture is this: We are witnessing the incipient stages of what federal health systems will do to all the medical and surgical patients in America who will be forced into the “benelovence” of Obamacare.

Even if you don’t care about what is happening to the nation’s vets, ask yourself this: Am I next?

John Donne had it right! We will all be “diminished.”

(The writer is an Augusta allergist and immunologist.)

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JimS 06/22/14 - 06:16 am
Veterans for Peace discuss VA

Veterans for Peace discuss VA health care, funding

19 June 2014 - Local members of Veterans for Peace gathered Thursday to voice concerns about the "massive under-funding, massive under-staffing and effort to privatize" the Veterans Administration that they said has been occurring for the last 15-20 years.

The VA currently enrolls 9.1 million of the estimated 21.6 million veterans living in the U.S.

Buzz Davis, an Army veteran who served in South Korea from 1967-70, said the VA budget hasn't increased enough to correspond with the country's growing number of veterans and its aging population. The U.S. has a propensity to forget its veterans after they return from war, he said.

"What we have is a massive meat grinder. We put in young men and women at the top of the meat grinder," Davis said. "The military, the Department of Defense, all these good politicians who never go to war but think war is just wonderful are grinding that handle on that meat grinder. And out of the bottom of that meat grinder comes men and women who are slightly messed up, or are dead. It goes on year after year. We’ve now been in almost 15 years of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are not learning. We lost in Vietnam, you can’t fight ideas ... you can’t shoot a bullet through an idea. Same thing in Afghanistan. Same thing in Iraq." read more>>>

“Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

As well as 'massive' ignoring or denying issues even exist, PTS for decades, Agent Orange contamination for decades, Gulf War Syndrome now for decades, homelessness and crimes and the mitigating reasons driving some towards, with so many more from past conflicts and already ignoring many from OEF and OIF like burn pit contamination! Which finally, even though grossly underfunded but with the help of this entire executive administration and it's cabinet, the Shinseki administration had started addressing, what other VA secretaries, executive administrations, congress and the people they represent, avoided as the people served ignored they exist!

Knockoff the 'Poser Patriotism' !!!

Sen. Bernie Sanders told Conservatives: “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, than don’t go war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about, We have a moral obligation to support them.” February, 26th, 2014

USN All Shore '67-'71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country '70-'71 - Independent**

JimS 06/22/14 - 06:16 am
Hawks and entire GOPer

Hawks and entire GOPer supporters, right after spitting all over the only POW of the abandoned long ago missions and those sent to accomplish so quickly after 9/11 are screaming about their want to go back into Iraq. Once again No Mention As To The Results From Those War Drums Beating: i.e. the people served Responsibility the Veterans Administration!! Both wars yet to be paid for and they want more 'free wars', as long as others, the real 1%, serve in them!!! Not the 1% that reap the profits from!!!

Senate Passes VA Reform Bill - June 2014
February 27, 2014 - Senate Blocks Dem Bill Boosting Vets' Benefits

“Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

- Vietnam veterans call Richard Burr (minority leader on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee) ‘insulting’ ""The Vietnam Veterans for America is slamming Sen. Richard Burr in a new letter, saying his comments about veterans service organizations were “insulting” and “ugly.”""

Rep Millier (R-FL)- House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman: "But Miller is vowing to find the billions needed to pay for it — which could pose a challenge." "“We’ll pay for it. We’ve got to pay for it,” he said on Wednesday evening. “We’ll have to find a way.”"

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said the Senate bill created "an unlimited entitlement program" for veterans and voted against it.

Just three lawmakers — all Republican senators — voted against the veterans measures. In addition to Sessions, Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin voted no.
Sen Ron Johnsons Pathetic Excuse for Voting NO: "Johnson blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for rushing "a different bill onto the floor of the Senate without even an estimate of costs." "

Here's your answer Miller and Sessions as to that 'unlimited entitlement program':

"If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too" "not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

All above and their party ideology long to privatize, the peoples served responsibility, the VA for corporate profit off the peoples treasury, they'll then finally stop obstructing VA budgets and be able to legislate extra fee's and more for those corporate entities as they bring along all the problems, never mentioned, in the cash rich to fix already but don't untill made public, private sector! While they quickly rubber stamped the abandoning of the missions and those sent after 9/11 and All war costs, including no bid private contracts, building a
private merc army that morphed into another intelligence gathering agency ot regulated, no over site and now no known budget costs for, rubber stamped, off the books till executive administrations changed and all borrowed with two tax cuts, still. Along with all the other bushco want policies, rubber stamped and not funded!!

The Country that 'Talks the Talk' but rarely 'Walks the Walk'!! Patriotism Posers who loves the free wars and ignore any sacrifice as to the long term results from! Long ignoring the many issues of Veterans, throw a few million
every now and then for studies they already know the results they want, especially as a result of our wars. Them representatives leading that ignoring while attacking the under funded VA, decades now and wars from, they control the purse strings of the Country! While political ideologues on conservative side made comfortable livings writing and speak on issues like PTS denying it exists and still do. Like Sally Satel, M.D.. Resident scholar at the Conservative American Enterprise Institute still reaping in and still denying. Then there's Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome and so many more

Gen Shinseki had a target on him after speaking Military Truth and the bushco fired him with the cheers of the flag wavin poser patriots!! They praised the bushco VA administrators, as those did nothing, as they do under any conservative administration also doing extremely little but photo op legislation, not funded, to carry that Poser Patriotism for their Poser Patriots!!

Knock the Poser Patriotism Off!!! It's Actually Worse Then Being a Military Poser!!

USN All Shore GMG3 '67-'71 Vietnam In Country '70-'71 - Independent **

Junket103 06/22/14 - 07:38 am
Truth Is A Casualty

In this letter. In fact the spending on VA healthcare has gone up enormously under this President and Congress. The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee earlier this year tried to pass legislation that would have spent billions more for veterans care, but it was the Senate Republicans who blocked it from passage at that time. And they were correct to do so.

The VA is adequately funded if you limit care to combat injured veterans and their injuries. But VA is much more than that. It is now a giant HMO for all veterans. Providing primary care, specialty care, surgical care, rehabilitation, dental, mental health and long term care to all veterans. While there are some eligibility limits on certain services, the gates are wide open for most care. Therein lies the problem. The resources needed to be a giant HMO for all far exceeds the government's current budget resources.

While Dr. House has some factual inaccuracies in his letter, the general point he is making is spot on. If you want to see what happens with government run healthcare look at our own VA system. It would be far less expensive to close the VA healthcare system and use the savings to fund an insurance program where veterans can use the providers of their choice. Competition will lead to cost efficiencies and quality care that a single provider, especially one run by the government, can not possibly achieve.

IBeDogGone 06/22/14 - 08:08 am

Dr. House, I agree with you the VA system is going above and beyond on the care given at times to Vets. Vets do deserve the best of care for the sacrifice they did for our country but some service they are provided do need eligibility limits.

Junket, I agree that the VA System is broke and a program should be implemented where Vets would have access to private providers with a fee schedule in place for covered services. Anything not allowed on the fee schedule the patient would have to sign an ABN and be responsible for the cost if not covered by the VA plan.

I do not want the USA to practice Socialized Medicine "the provision of medical and hospital care for all by means of public funds."

deestafford 06/22/14 - 08:21 am
The jest of both the column and the commenter...

The jest of both the column writer and the commenter has merit.

Doctor House is right in the thrust that in the priorities of the President are more in line with social justice and wealth redistribution than that of protecting the country and taking care of those who have been injured or become ill as a result of service to the country. No matter what his lips say as they read the teleprompter, his heart is no in it.

The commenter is right in that the increase of coverage to anyone who ever served is eligible for VA help even if the illness or injury was not service connected or happened while in the service. When that policy changed the flood gates opened.

Also, whether we want to admit it or not there are some shammers out there who claim injuries which are not true. I've seen stories in paper where someone says they served in such-and-such time frame and they have PTSD. The problem is with that is we did not have anyone serving anywhere where there were shots being fired in anger.

There was even a story in the paper not long ago where someone being quoted as saying they served in RVN from 1968-1973. No one was there that long unless they were a POW. So take some of these stories with a grain of salt.

Two problems with the VA corruption are union contract and civil service rules. Not to mention the rotten corruption at the head levels whereby they are passing out year-end bonuses to so many of the top people in the VA structure even though their facilitate maybe one of the ones waist deep in scandal.

oldredneckman96 06/22/14 - 10:14 am
Obama Care

Welcome to Obama care. It is not that he is black, not that it is a Democrat idea, it is not that it is socialism, it is that Government does not have the business model to be in business. It is that simple and has been proven around the world.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 06/22/14 - 10:15 pm
When the war is over . . .

When the war is over . . .

Turn out the lights . . .

Turn out the lights . . .

It is time to say to the veterans, “Move on.”

Do not expect paychecks for the rest of your life.

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