Of course, when you come back home and are standing in line (figuratively) at the local Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) you may be able to get the information about the same time its being put out. The VA Scandal is not over. Never has been. And, it won't be for a while. Not exactly news. But its what I'm reporting to you today.
The recent news about wait times at the Los Angeles VAMC are just one example. To me, its almost unbelievable that CNN is somewhat shocked that wait times still exist at VAMCs. I mean, its almost like they just abandoned their LP/OP after Shinseki was fired and Congress passed the VA Choice Act. Oh, that's right, they did. "Nothing new to see here. Move along." That's what the editors for the media say.
News isn't really new. In some ways, there is nothing "new". Veterans are still waiting longer than they should for treatment or an appointment. That's been happening, so its not really new, right? Also, (NEWS FLASH) the VA still basically treats stuff with pills and shrinks. Do you want to see the VA's pill treatment philosophy on steroids (pardon the really bad pun)? Just look toward the VAMC at Tomah, WI. The place is nicknamed "Candyland" for crying out loud! But, that's not new. In 2012 a study by the VA on service animals helping Veterans with PTSD was put on hold (not for the first time either). In 2014, after almost 2 years, the study program was reopened. As of the date this blog post is published, the VA is not using service animals. That is to say, they are not paying for a widespread program to help Veterans with PTSD or TBI with the use of service animals. But if you want a pill in just about any color (the blue pills aren't those blue pills you're thinking of), I am pretty damn sure there is a VAMC who is willing to give you a prescription for at least one or four of them! I would find it hard to believe that if you look hard enough, there isn't a picture of a VAMC somewhere online when you want to find out how to lead from behind!
Also, according to a recent press release, the cost to replace one VAMC in Denver has skyrocketed from $328 million to $1.73 Billion (yeah, with a capital B). One VA Medical Center. Are they using the freaking $3,000 hammers the government purchased back in the 1990's?
Of course, the VA is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to Veterans care. Thankfully. Private groups like Chili Off The Grid and Operation: Light Of Hope are picking up the slack the VA is doling out by the mile. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal alternative treatments are working. While you're reading that article check out when it was published. Almost a year ago, during the height of the (then news to the news media) VA wait time scandal. And STILL the VA is popping pills as (pretty much) its only widespread treatment for PSD and TBI, along with a helluva lot of other things! This has got to change!
Change would be news, right? Hopefully, that change starts with a meeting by the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs meeting on 24 March 2015. The meeting, taking place at the Russell Senate Office Building at 2:30 p.m. is to discuss a possible change to the distance criteria for the VA Choice program, something I discussed in my post Why We Fight. Also, with over 2,000 Veterans waiting for an appointment in L.A., its time to find out why the VA Choice program has dismal number of Veterans using it. Could it be that the money in the VA Choice program is being eyed as a "slush" fund for other VA programs (did I mention they like giving out scripts for drugs?) that bureaucrats think need to be funded more?
Oh, wait, here's some more change for you. Back when Robert McDonald took over as Secretary for the Dept. of Veteran Affairs (back in 2014), he created the MyVA board to help get some new ideas into the VA. One Veteran from Syracuse University, Michael Haynie has been appointed to what is now (in 2015) being called the new advisory board called MyVA.
Helping Veterans. As many of you are aware, I'm all for doing stuff to help Veterans. One of my main issues is PTSD and TBI. June is PTSD awareness month, capped off with June 27th being PTSD awareness day. I am in the midst of preparing an event for that day, and the whole month. I'm asking that you the reader also start preparing to do something to heighten the awareness of PTSD, TBI, or other issues our Veterans face on a daily basis. Veteran homelessness, Veteran suicide are two of the many things you can bring to the eye of the public. You can stage a vigil, write a letter to the editor, or volunteer at groups that help Veterans and their families.
Also, remember that tomorrow is Telephone A Veteran Tuesday a fantastic idea brought to us by my fellow blogger A Vet With PTSD.
That is all.