Thursday, May 22, 2014

The VA - Now Here's a Real Scandal

The Wilmington VAMC - the one that I use
(photo that I took 2012)

The Republicans have been floundering around trying to push faux scandals like the Benghazi, the so called IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, and even the kidnapping of those 300 Nigerian school girls that the Republicans are trying to blame on Hillary.  But now here comes a real scandal, the shameful VA (Veterans Administration) cheating scandal where some VA centers were caught falsifying records on how long it took for veterans to see their doctors. This folks is a real scandal.  See here.  But the Republicans better be careful before they jump on Obama for his failure (and it IS Obama's failure given his past speeches about fixing the VA) because they would not have done any better.  In fact, if the Republicans were in charge we probably wouldn't have a VA.  

One of my many visits to the Wilmington VAMC

This is one reason I am now a registered Democrat.  Prior to  2000 I was a lifelong registered Republican.  However, when George Bush and his Republican chicken hawk cronies  got into power in 2001, one of the first things they did was issue an order that the VA should stop marketing the availability of the VA to veterans like me.  Then they attempted to eliminate veterans like me from even accessing the VA and only making the VA available to veterans with service connected disabilities. This repugnant action against me, as a veteran who put my life on the line for three years with the promise that I would have lifetime medical care if I needed it, completed my transmigration from lifelong conservative Republican to a flaming liberal Democrat.  I was already traumatized by the 1992 Republican convention where Pat Buchanan gave his famous "culture war" speech which disowned and criminalized gays like me as not part of this country.  What really radicalized by was all the good Germans white folks in the audience enthusiastically cheering on his hate filled speech.

Hitler Pat Buchanan rallying The Cause to the Good Germans Republicans at the 1992 Republican Convention

The Bush Administration weren't able to drop me from the VA because there was such an outcry from veterans' groups.  Veterans like me, who had already signed up in the VA, were grandfathered into the system.  However, the Republicans and the Bush administration were successful in creating eight classifications of veterans eligible for VA care.  The classifications ranged from total disability (classification 1) to veterans like me (classification 8).  The Bush administration even tried to charge ($2,250 a year) for veterans like me to remain in the system.  Thankfully they were not allowed to get away with this outrage.  So Republicans, don't give me your false outrage now that President Obama has failed to keep his campaign promise to "fix" the VA.  I almost threw up yesterday when I saw Republican Sen. John Thune and his fellow vulture Republican senators make a statement about how "outraged" they were at President Obama.  


Hey Thune, I'm outraged too but here's a clue Republicans……you don't have to do anything.  You're going to look like the vultures that you and reinforce your reputation for unbridled hypocrisy.  

So here's the deal folks.  There is a BIG.PROBLEM.AT.THE.VA. And yes, President Obama has fallen down on the job.  And Eric Shinseki should be removed from the VA.  He's hapless.  Did you see his "I'm mad as hell" moment the other day before the Congressional sub-committee?  I almost fell asleep while he was expressing his "outrage."  Wake up Shinseki!  No wonder not much is getting done at the VA.  Shinseki gives somnolent a whole new meaning. 

Mr. Excitement

You want "mad as hell"?  Here's MAD AS HELL (Howard Beale from the movie "Network")

As I mentioned before, I am a veteran and I use the VA.  There is a problem with getting timely appointments.  A BIG PROBLEM.  But I have to say this, I have always received excellent care from the VA…..once you get to see a doctor.  

I've had two major operations at the VA, both successful.  The VA monitors my health care every six months but taking lab tests.  The VA discovered I had prostate cancer.  The VA discovered that I had Gilbert's Syndrome (a non-life threatening liver ailment).  My VA doctor ALWAYS has time to talk to me.  The VA provides all my prescriptions at a reasonable cost.  Without the VA I probably wouldn't be here today typing this blog post. But folks, I'm one of the lucky ones because I'm already in the VA system and have survived despite the Republican efforts to kick me out of the system.

Having said this, now is the time to get the VA straightened out for this thousands of veterans who have put their lives on the line in defense of this country.  Now is the time for president Obama to wake up and take charge.  Maybe he will have to cut back on his time for greeting sports teams at the White House and maybe even fire Shinseki (who I'm sure he put in the VA to make up for Shinseki being sacrificed by the Bush administration by daring to state that the United State would need a lot more troops in Iraq if we invaded them).  Talk is cheap president Obama.  DO SOMETHING!   And you Republicans who are all so eager to jump on the Vulture Bandwagon and use the veterans who are suffering and dying from the way the VA is run now, have some human morality and join in helping to fix the VA so our veterans can have the proper care that they deserve.  

VA Outpatient Clinic - Georgetown, Delaware (the one where I see my doctor is is EXCELLENT!)


WARPed said...

Hi Ron,

I am hoping to be able to get VA health care if/when I need it (like you I was 3 years active duty.)

Don't they means test applicants now for eligibility? I have some assets, but expect to be poor eventually! lol!



Ron said...

You should sign up as soon as you're eligible. If for nothing else than to take advantage of the VA's excellent drug prescription program. I don't know what the requirements are now but I do think that the Obama administration relaxed the means testing that the Bush/Republicans put into place to discourage veterans from using the VA. Just one more reason why I dislike the Republicans so much. Almost all of the Republicans who were in power and tried to get us vets out of the system, never served a single day, and that's including Bush and his faux National Guard "service."

Anonymous said...

My father hated the army (long story), but as he aged, and with his poor financial status, he finally went to the VA. His only complaint was that it was so far from his house! He loved the doctors (he hated most doctors), the pharmacy was fast, and it cost him nothing which was very important. The VA prolonged his life for many years of comfortable living. They were the ones who finally diagnosed his lung cancer after other doctors had missed it for over a year. LONG LIVE THE VA! And I do hope they get it fixed. Our veterans are too important to leave hanging (and dying!) as the VA tries to straighten things out.

Peace <3

Stan said...

When you start two wars like the Bush/Cheney regime did and you have thousands of wounded soldiers coming back wounded physically and mentally that otherwise would have been killed in combat like they did in WWI & WWII, what did they expect? Of course the VA system is going to be overwhelmed. I know it's too easy to keep blaming Bush and the Obama admin. has it's share of blame but lets place blame where it really belongs.

Amanda said...

Isn't it amazing that on Veterans day, there are speeches, flowers, old vets in uniform… talk is cheap! All smile in front of the camera but not caring one bit behind the camera, cutting benefits. Truly disgusting!

Stan said...

and BTW if we're going to have 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 year long wars you had better be prepared to take care of them when they get back. It's all too easy to wave the flag, put a magnetic ribbon on your vehicle and send them off to war but when they get back expect them to go away somewhere and disappear back into the woodwork. And don't get me started on the amount of veteran suicides that occur each day. Shame on you America!

Ron said...

I have friends who were also in the Army who wouldn't consider using the VA for their medical needs because they though the VA was beneath them. I didn't have a choice, I had lost my job and had no medical coverage when I had started to have medical issues. The irony was that all the years (34) that I had this great medical coverage at my banking job, never once did I see a doctor. But then when I lost my job and was unemployed, then my medical issue began to pop up. If it wasn't for the VA I would still be paying those medical bills off if I was still alive. The reason I say "alive" is because the VA took excellent medical care of me. It's a shame what's happening now. I hope they get it straightened out but I don't have too much confidence that they will.

Ron said...

You are exactly right. This always seems to be the scenario after wars, the country doesn't take care of it's veterans properly. I do blame the Bush administration for trying to downsize and eliminate the VA and the Obama administration for begin negligence. They just don't care about the veterans. It's a shame but that's the fact. This scandal didn't happen overnight, it's been brewing for over thirty years. It's about time it's taken care of.

Ron said...

You hit the nail on the head. All too often the politicians (both parties) are right out there on Memorial Day for the photo ops at the veterans cemeteries but when it comes time to do something to really help those who have sacrificed so much for this country, they're absent.

Ron said...

It breaks my heart to see and hear about the thousands of veterans who have suffered lifelong injuries for these "wars of choice" of the criminal (yes, I said "criminal") Bush chicken hawks. And then all those who have the magnetic ribbons on their vehicles (not me, that's for sure) who think they're doing something meaningful to help the veterans. And even one suicide is unacceptable but the hundreds of suicides that occur among veterans is unbelievable and preventable with the proper medical attention and care. This country is very fucked up the way it treats its veterans. And it is a shame because once you get into the system, you do receive excellent care. At least that's been my experience. My VA doctor is the best I've ever had in my life. He takes time to listen to me and follows up on everything in my twice a year blood test. He's the one who notified me about the jump in my PSA (t o 8.4) score. If not for that I would probably be on the downside of prostate cancer. If it wasn't for the VA and my regular six month checkups, I would not have discovered that I had prostate cancer until it was too late. But even with my excellent medical care, if I wanted to see my doctor for an emergency I would probably have to wait for months. I have to go to the dermatologist quite often because of my pre cancerous skin problems. I gave up on the VA because of the long wait and now see a private dermatologist (I have another appointment next week). But I consider myself one of the lucky vets because I don't have a major medical problem but there was a time in the past that I just showed up at the VA medical center without an appointment and begged for treatment. I was chastised for not "going through channels" but the doctor did see me. The VA has a problem and it should be addressed now and put off any longer.

Dave said...

Iconic image, or not, you probably don't want a picture of actor Peter Finch on your blog. Of his experience kissing a man full on the mouth in the 1971 movie 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday', he is alleged to have said it was the most repulsive thing he'd had to do in his acting career. Apparently, he was not spoofing homophobes, he was one. The movie, ironically, was a cinema milestone for presenting a gay relationship in a way that said 'that's life', nothing sordid or creepy.

pat888 said...

So glad you spoke up about this Ron. I'm not in the States but it's just a tragedy that the ones who sacrificed so much for country are treated so poorly. What a sad situation.


Ron said...


It is a horrible situation and I don't think even the present administration cares much about it although they talk a big game.

Ron said...

That I did not know, that Peter Finch was a homophobe. Kissing a man full on the mouth "the most repulsive thing he's ever had to do." Interesting to say the least. I can think of things much more repulsive like kissing a pig's ass.

Ur-spo said...

I hated working in the VA. The environment and the culture were awful. I am very pessimistic things can be better because I think it would be near impossible to do away with two major problems: the bureaucracy, and the problem how to get rid of horrible staff. Oh what awful memories I have of the VA system. I felt sorry for the veterans who truly needed help; I was outraged at the shysters gumming up the works.