May 29, 2014
As we and the rest of the nation honored our fallen military veterans, it came at a time of a jarring contradiction between this sacred holiday and the treatment of some veterans in hospitals run by the federal Veterans Administration.
The scandal, and that surely is an accurate term for what has so far been discovered, began at the VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., and has spread elsewhere to other VA medical facilities across the nation.
It involves long waits for appointments at the hospitals, as well as delays in benefits processing.
For many veterans, this is not a new issue involving VA hospitals, and many have complained for years about the bureaucracy and red tape involved in treatment at VA hospitals.
The VA scandal is far more serious than the standard delays veterans face in getting treatment. A former clinic director associated with the Phoenix VA hospital claims that up to 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment and it was directly due to these delays, reported.
And then it was revealed that staff at the Phoenix VA hospital kept a secret appointments list to “mask the delays,” the AP said.
In all, 26 VA hospitals will be investigated by the Inspector General’s Office within the Veterans Administration.
There is no indication that VA hospitals in West Virginia are guilty of such dishonorable and, perhaps, even criminal behavior.
But it gives us pause that the VA’s health care system has been lauded by supporters of the federal Affordable Care Act and held up as a model for national health care.
Many veterans would tell us that the VA system is less a model for health care than it is a model for bureaucratic delays and endless red tape.
Memorial Day is the most solemn of our national holidays.
As we hang our flags and visit our cemeteries to honor our fallen veterans, we also need to take time for some thought about our living veterans.
They deserve no less.
— The Register-Herald, Bleckley