One of the problems is the "40 mile" stipulation. A Veteran must live outside of 40 miles to get pre approval for outside VA care. That 40 mile limitation is in nautical miles. In other words, "As the crow flies". It doesn't take into account that a Veteran might have to drive 42 miles using paved roads such as interstates, streets, highways, etc. For some Veterans and their families this is a problem. Another point is that the mileage is measured to the nearest VA, whether they can administer specialized care or not. So, you may have to see a specialist which isn't at the nearest VA medical center, but you wont be allowed to use a choice card, even though the specialist may be at another VAMC 100 miles away or more! A group of U.S. Senators has sent Sec. McDonald a letter to redress the problems with the distance part of the VA Choice cards. McDonald does indeed have the ability to change the calculations for the mileage requirements, if he wants to. If the VA Choice program wasn't just smoke and mirrors to alleviate another "scandal" for the Obama administration, and the VA in general.
In opening remarks during the Senate hearing on the VA's fiscal year 2016 budget, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Chairman of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, said, "We need to make (Veterans Choice Act) work to address the problems the VA healthcare has experienced and get healthcare to our Veterans in the most timely and seamless way we can..." Isakson, who served in the Georgia Air National Guard, has also called the President's proposed cuts to the Veterans Choice Act a "disservice to our nation's Veterans".
He's right. It is a disservice and it also looks like a way for the VA to get more funding for other programs while terminating a program that is being underutilized. For a lot of politicians, the question is, is the VA actually promoting the Choice program or just giving it "the old college try"?
Concerned Veterans for America has recently issued a report on how they see the VA's overall medical program being fixed. It involves turning VA Healthcare into a non profit organization, something McDonald is against. McDonald claims dismantling the VA medical wing isn't the way to reform the VA. I say, and I think we should all say, prove it. Promote the Choice program so that more than 27,000 Veterans want to use it or can use it. Change the mileage calculations. Don't set up the Choice program for failure and then take out all of its money. The VA needs reform in all areas. Now.
Part of the problem with the VA, no matter what part you are talking about (benefits, medical, etc.), is why they do it. The title of this post is "Why We Fight". We are talking about Veterans of the U.S. Military. For the better part of 50 years, the U.S. Armed Forces is something you choose to do. A lot of Vets will tell you the reason why they served is because of what they had at home. Their family. The freedoms we enjoy in the USA. It's not to go "and kill the yellow man" as the song says. It's what is behind you that you serve. The day I enlisted was one of the proudest days of my life. Finishing Basic Training and being promoted to sergeant are as dear memories to me as the first time I held either of my children or getting married to my wife.
But, you have to wonder if that is what motivates VA employees. They are dealing with men and women who, at one point in their lives, wrote a blank check to this country to defend, serve and protect American citizens and our way of life. Does a bureaucrat actually feel that way when he is determining if a Veteran qualifies for some VA program? I'm an Oath Keeper. The day I retired from the Military wasn't my last day of service to my country. It's why I write this blog. Because someone has to make everyone aware that there are Veterans out there that have suffered tremendous wounds (some physical, some mental) while serving this country. There are Veterans who won't go back to the VA after some contracted provider almost broke a needle off in their spine while administering a drug. There are Veterans out there that the VA says are "disabled" but Social Security has the gall to say they can still work because they can sit at a desk for a couple hours. There are Veterans who cant drive for an hour when the VA looks at "how the crow flies". This is why we fight! This is why the VA has to be reformed. The antiquated bureaucracy have to change. Its not the 1950's anymore. Also, the employees cannot think they are safe behind union membership if they screw up. Sometimes, when they screw up, it means life or death!
"To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan" is the motto of the VA. Everyone that works at the VA should have that in their mind when they go to work every single day. And if they don't "live up" to that motto, they can go to McDonalds and flip burgers. Of course, the paycheck won't be the same. But, then again, what the VA is supposed to do, is worth a helluva lot more than flipping burgers. Our Veterans deserve the best care. Our Veterans, right now and for sometime now, haven't been getting the best care. That has to change. Veterans served to protect and defend the freedoms a lot of people take for granted. We shouldn't take our Veterans for granted. EVER.
That is all.