Opinion

Veterans deserve VA facilities to help, not hurt health needs | Editorial

It’s a sad commentary that as we note the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when troops stormed the beaches at Normandy, France, our country is caught up in the scandal involving our Veteran’s Administration hospitals.

Veterans, in World War II and other wars that followed, put their lives on the line for our country. Now we learn that many of those veterans, whose lives were shattered in combat, are suffering again as they wait for care in VA facilities.

It is unacceptable that this has happened. It would be unconscionable if we do not fix the problem — now.

Jeffrey Howard of Redmond joined the Marines at age 17 and served in Vietnam. He was sent home after 15 months with a spine that had a permanent curvature from carrying the weight of a 46-pound mortar on his back. He tells of having numerous surgeries but, as he puts it, “won’t go near a VA facility.”

Who can blame him after hearing stories like his from all around the country.

We need to stop here for a moment to acknowledge that there are many physicians and other employees of VA hospitals and facilities who are dedicated in their care for our veterans. And many veterans do get prompt and quality care when they need it.

Nevertheless, too many stories have been surfacing that some officials game and skew the system to make themselves look good, all while veterans suffer.

Without question, the VA system is massive: 80 million outpatient visits a year at 1,700 VA clinics and hospitals. However, that can’t be an excuse when someone’s health — or life — is on the line.

Documents reportedly show that the VA has known since 2008 that employees were manipulating the scheduling system. Today, it’s obvious that little or nothing has been done to change that. It’s time to fix the system.

— Craig Groshart, Bellevue Reporter

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