Please remind this representative of the following:
Veterans have served and are serving their country in ways that this man cannot even fathom.
Veterans should have earned far more benefits than he (as a sitting member of congress has) but yet I bet this man would never have to wait months for a kidney stone to be treated. The VA's response to this man's needs is unacceptable for this man's condition.
The VA is, as you have rightly put it, has become very adversarial to veterans, is not serving their best interests and in most cases, veterans are not satisfied with what the VA or our elected official are doing---and that comes from this Registered Republican.
His job is to find out why and fix it--not attack the complainers.
His comments make me feel that congress (and perhaps most especially Steve Buyer, a congressman representing my own state who is fostering this attitude of veterans are just greedy in the house veterans affairs committee) feels that veterans are selfish and greedy. Yet, I have never heard a disabled combat veteran complain about their compensation once they finally get it. What they do complain about (loudly, I might add) is the ACCESS to health care treatment and even preventative health care the government has not only promised but is by statute responsible for providing and for QUALITY CARE once the veteran gets the “golden pass into the system.” They don't complain about their monthly compensation, but they bitterly complain about the lengths they must go through to a). Prove they were a veteran b). Prove they were in combat c). Prove they were in country d). Prove they were exposed, injured, or ill etc). Prove they have conditions that the rest of the medical community acknowledges but the VA denies, denies, denies (usually writing their own narrowly defined diagnostic criteria in the meantime), and then prove that they are complying with the treatments prescribed without their input or consultation.
The reason for this animosity and constant complaining is simple....the veterans have been denied rights, denied a voice, denied legal representation by professionals, and denied a chain of command with whom to articulate their grievances. Ask him to check it out for himself.....pretend he is a veteran and go to the Jesse Brown facility in Chicago.
The veteran's rights are nowhere to be seen.....the most recent JCAHO survey results and improvement plan are not hanging on the wall in the lobby...usually, unless you have a VA identification card, you are not even permitted in the building (thus the press, and investigators who might be able to monitor the system are kept at bay)...the administrator’s name and contact information are nowhere to be seen. The information booth is usually staffed with inarticulate and unknowledgeable volunteers who do not even know the facility and cannot offer help as to local landmarks and even directions from one facility to another or to the public transportation system....and nowhere in the lobby or hallways is the term patient advocate defined or the patient given information about how to make contact with that person in order to file a complaint about their treatment.
The environment is hostile. From the armed guards at the door, to the clerk at the desk (who either won't answer questions, or gives erroneous information or treat veterans with rudeness or hostility), to design of the rooms (wards that offer no seating for visitors or even have restrooms for female guests/patients). Violation upon violation.
When these environmentally hostile conditions are reported (even by a noted health care professional) the response is disingenuous...."we are fixing the problems with a hospital expansion.” What good does having more rooms do for veterans in that facility yesterday or even today?
Dissatisfied veterans are frustrated and the feeble attempts of the VA to improve the system lead to even more frustration. For example, inpatient satisfaction surveys are frequently given the discharged veteran patients while a staff member is standing with the veteran.
There is no evidence of formal care planning and veteran/patient centered care; in fact, there is no planning or collaboration or communication with veterans about their care at all, except to tell a veteran when they have caused a problem or to dictate to them when, how, and where a treatment is to occur. The veteran simply has no say and very little time to ask questions and make a health related decision.
If this congressman would like more details about these very serious allegations, I would be happy to speak with him....I have already reported them to the patient advocate, a representative of Jesse Brown, and Senator Lugar's office. There is no way to get around it. The VA is not doing their job.
I think this representative thinks that your complaints are politically motivated. Please inform him that I usually vote republican and voted for Bush not once but twice and I agree with you that the VA is not doing its job and neither is this administration. I am glad that he feels that he is addressing the Veteran issue--but he is not and neither is the VA or the President. Throwing money at a corrupt and morally bankrupt bureaucracy will not ever fix the problem. The staff of the VA have it backwards....the veterans are not there for their benefit, but rather the VA exists to serve the veterans. Politicians must do a much better job of helping veterans adequately and humanely.
If it were not for veterans and our military, where on earth would this country be?
I am well aware of what constitutes quality care. Take the frustration for veterans and the game playing out of the system, and I can guarantee that veteran's complaints will subside.
LaVerna "Tweek" VanDan, RN, MSN
Unpaid Veteran's Advocate