The scandals that have been plaguing VA hospitals have been fairly large in the news lately. Everything from horrible stories of veterans dying as they waited on secret waiting lists to get treatment, to the general poor nature of the care they’re often provided. It’s simply unacceptable.
My mother is the caretaker for a veteran family member who requires a lot of medical care that’s been provided by the VA hospital here in Dallas. As someone who’s dealt with the VA on a near constant basis, I’ve seen how terrible these VA hospitals are operated.
In fact, I’m working on an article now that chronicles the last 3+ years of hell this family member has endured dealing with the Dallas VA hospital, and how their incompetence has directly resulted in a drastic reduction in his quality of life – and even nearly his death.
But fixing the problem with VA hospitals isn’t all that difficult. I’ve seen firsthand why they’re so poorly run.
We have Vietnam vets who are now getting older who need more care, and we started two wars within the last fifteen years that resulted in tens of thousands of our brave men and women needing care when they got back.
But guess what – I don’t see many (if any) new VA hospitals being built.
I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. There’s one hospital here. It’s ridiculous. An area of over 6 million people and we have one hospital to care for our veterans.
And it’s not as if that hospital is overrun with staff considering it’s the only one in town, it’s actually understaffed. Not only is it understaffed, but VA hospitals don’t exactly pay the best so you’re not exactly getting the most qualified people working in these facilities.
So just taking the DFW VA situation and putting it in a generic sense: We have one hospital for the entire metroplex, understaffed with underpaid workers who are overworked and, due to the lower range of pay, not always the most qualified people out there.
Nothing says “we care for our veterans” quite like not providing enough facilities to care for them, not staffing the hospitals properly to handle the volume of care needed, and then offering such a low rate of pay for most positions that these hospitals often attract unqualified health care workers.
Then we want to act “shocked” by the fact that these facilities aren’t properly run?
And don’t give me this, “See, this is what happens when the government gets involved in health care” nonsense. This is what happens when good intentions aren’t properly funded. If we were properly funding (and building enough of) these facilities, these horror stories would be far less common.
Though Republicans are clearly trying to pin this on the Obama administration. That’s pathetic. This problem has been a constant within the VA system for many years. Though it’s clearly gotten worse as more and more Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans have flooded into the system in recent years.
But this problem can be fixed with adequate funding. We need to make sure this country has enough facilities to care for these veterans; that these facilities are fully staffed to care for these veterans; and that these hospitals offer a rate of pay to lure better quality health care workers to work in these facilities.
Will any of this happen? Probably not. It’ll turn into a partisan issue where each side points the finger at the other and in the end hardly anything will get done. This isn’t a “Republican issue” or a “Democrat issue,” it’s an American issue. It’s time we all stand up and demand that the VA system get adequate funding to provide the care that these veterans desperately need and deserve.
Unfortunately for many of these politicians, “supporting our troops” seems to be something they like saying but they just don’t seem to do.
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