As our veterans age, we’re reminded of our ongoing obligation to those we send into battle. The costs of wars extend well beyond the homecomings and parades as the passing decades reveal the long-term complications of combat. Now, extended delays in health care have turned deadly for veterans relying on a VA hospital in Phoenix where upper management deliberately hid waiting lists and destroyed evidence. Vietnam veteran Dan Doyle comments on the tragic allegations.
If this is true, the Congress, the Pentagon, the Defense Department, the Veterans Administration, and we veterans need to do something about it. As veterans, we have done all that we have been asked to do and and more. To be treated with anything less than the fullest dedication to our medical, psychological, and educational is unconscionable and, in my humble opinion, immoral.
Yes, we know that the VA is overwhelmed, but that should translate into more funding, more hiring of the necessary medical and psychological personnel to address the higher numbers of veterans needing the services of the VA due to the cost of having endured several tours to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. We have an aging population of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans who deserve the care that they were promised by the nation, the military, and the VA as well.
Again, if this story is true there ought to be some identifiable outrage on the part of our elected officials who voice their support for veterans so “passionately” during their campaigns. I am not seeing it. Besides, words are easy. We want to see some action on the behalf of all veterans, not just pretty words. We want to see some actions taken by the VA, the Defense Department and the Pentagon as well. We gave our lives to them for the period of our service in our nation’s wars. No one gave as much as we have for the nation’s well-being. It is a matter of moral fairness that we — who were asked to potentially give our all, who fought the good fight, sacrificing ourselves for the greater good, who now bear the physical and the psychological wounds of war, and who did all of this anonymously and willingly on behalf of all of our fellow citizens — deserve all that the nation ought to provide us by way of the highest quality medical care we need and deserve.
The VA is overwhelmed. That is a fact. Personally, I have had great care from my VA facility. Thankfully, my needs are not that great at this time. I have a great, young, caring and dedicated Primary Care doctor and am completely confident of both his skill and his care for me. I’m sure that most veterans can say the same. But if the VA is unable to keep up with the more serious demands of our wounded and our aging veterans because they are understaffed or underfunded, this is a problem that needs immediate, complete, and meaningful attention from the Congress and the military institutions. But it needs the committed attention of the American people as well. If the people of the United States remain indifferent to this issue concerning we veterans, you can bet that the Congress will do nothing about it. Such is the nature of reality.
A Call to Action
Veterans, we need to be contacting our Representatives and our Senators and letting them know that they need to stop talking a good game and start acting purposefully on our behalf. The nation called on us to potentially sacrifice our very lives to protect its way of life. Now the nation has to do its duty toward those of us who answered the call and now need the nation’s help to heal from the the wounds of war. We need to write editorials to our newspapers, to tell our stories, to let the people know what we did, how we were affected, and to get them to help us demand that the medical care we need will be there for us when we need it, and that it is the best care that can be had.
Those who have served and sacrificed so much on behalf of the nation deserve better than what we see here in this story. That is nothing less than a moral truth.
Image: Each marker in section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, which holds veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, has a flag placed in front of it during the “Flags In” Memorial Day tradition, May 21. (U.S. Army photo, CC BY 2.0).