There’s a saying, “the job’s not over until the paperwork is done.” In the same vein, a war isn’t over until all the veterans are cared for. Health care was a promise we made for their service – veterans earned their health care. The Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) is currently understaffed by more than 42,000 positions nationwide. Last February VA Secretary Wilke told Congress that he does not intend to fill those vacancies. Our veterans are being left without health care, in order to push privatization of the nation’s largest integrated health care organization.
If the VHA is privatized, veterans with significant war injuries and their families will have to deal with private insurance and having claims denied or partially paid. Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country. Private insurance corporations care about profits and cutting spending, and they make decisions about care and treatment based on money, not on the veteran’s needs.
After 18 years of war, a record number of our veterans need care, and only the VHA serves every veteran. Many of their injuries, like traumatic brain injury, amputation, PTSD, Agent Orange, chemical burn pits or military sexual trauma, are specific to veterans and the VHA is where the experts in these fields are. We need to strengthen, not weaken this system.
We, as a society, are failing to hold up our end of the deal we made when we sent our children off to war. It’s time to fully fund and fully staff the VHA.
My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.