I have many decades of experience with the VA.
It is a bureaucracy, a very large bureaucracy.
It has faults and it has failures.
It also has many fine professionals who work hard for veterans and many successes to their credit.
There is a constant struggle between administrators, clinicians, and legislators. Legislators fund, administrators manage, and clinicians do their
best to serve the veteran, all the while caught in the struggle between budgetary problems and managers who manage humans like chess pieces.
I have horror stories and have stories of incredible selflessness on the part of those who have served me at the VA.
I'm sorry for those who suffer and can't get adequate care and I am sorry for the relatives of those who could not bear the struggle.
While my first experience dates from the 1971, it has been the last 26 years that have had a strong influence on where I am today.
In those years, I went head to head with the VA and its inscrutable decision makers and fought a battle for benefits.
All I can say is that for the tenacious, there are services and benefits available. There are frustrations to endure, but on the whole and in the
long run, the veteran's needs will be met.
There are service organization representatives to help and every VAMC has at least one patient representative who can work miracles in short order
when they are called upon.
I literally owe my life to the VA, not once but several times over.
The incidents listed in the article need to be addressed and I hope they are, but the baby cannot be thrown out with the bath water.
These incidents are not a reason to hate our leaders. These incidents are a reason to get involved.
Lawsuits might be a part of that, but there are other ways to get one's needs met.
In the eighties, I enlisted the aid of Lindy Boggs
, my representative, and I can tell you that
with her help, I got action.
It took 26 years to get what I deserved, but in the intervening years, I got a lot of good clinical treatment and other invaluable benefits.
For those who think that nationalized health care is the answer to our medical woes, I say look at the VA.
It gets the job done, but it does so in its own time and sadly, some get lost in the shuffle.
The VA is neither all good nor all bad.
The way to make the VA more responsive is for individual veterans to get involved, personally and collectively.
Volunteer at your local VAMC. Join a national veterans' organization. Pay your dues and attend meetings. Write your legislators. VOTE!
I know this post is a scatter shot, but its the best I could do to try to relate the experience gained over all these years.
[edit on 2008/10/10 by GradyPhilpott]