Battleland

VA Gets a Thumbs-Up

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VA Secretary Eric Shinseki visits with Philadelphia VA Medical Center patient Mikal Muhammad Sabir, an Air Force veteran, in May.

There’s lots of grumbling about the Department of Veterans Affairs from veterans – and its own inspector general, who regularly turns out critical reports.

So it’s worth noting when someone seems satisfied.

It’s tough to imagine a more important someone to the VA than the American Legion, whose 2.4 million members makes it the nation’s largest veterans’ organization. The Legion visited 25 VA facilities last spring and, in a just-released report that includes assessments of each facility, praised the “high quality of care” that it found.

“Patient satisfaction has seen drastic improvements in the past decade,” the Legion reports. “However challenges still exist.”

Those challenges include vets’ delays in getting appointments, a lengthy hiring process (of growing concern because at some VA facilities half the workforce is at retirement age) and medical salaries that fall short of what’s available in the private sector.

Ron Capps, an Army veteran and Battleland contributor, points out that the VA is really two huge agencies – one running hospitals and the other administering disability benefits (and yes, a tiny third part that runs veterans’ cemeteries). “In my opinion, VA health care is mostly excellent,” Capps says. “The big issues at the VA aren’t in the Veterans Health Administration — the health care side of the department. They are in the other side, the Veterans Benefits Administration. That’s where the unreasonable delays in processing disability claims and benefits, or providing benefits under the new GI Bill exist. The VBA has some big pieces that are broken.”

A former senior VA official, speaking privately, found the report heartening. “Sure, there is still much to do, and VA isn’t getting some things right,” he said. “But overall, the days of stereotypical uncaring bureaucrats providing shoddy service are long past.”

5 comments
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vstillwell
vstillwell

This should be required reading for Joe Klein. 

Sue Frasier
Sue Frasier

Well this is one article that got it seriously wrong and the public is informed there is another side to this story. It's time for the American Legion and all the other mens clubs to LEAVE the VA medical and disability system. None of them are licensed doctors and there is a significant population in our group as veterans who stand by the findings of both GAO and the many lawsuits settled by the VA and the many findings of the VA's own Inspector Generals. American Legion is nothing but a stunt collective and has no accredited standing to do any such thing as a "hospital review" VA or otherwise. We have openly opposed at times, the very premise of using mens clubs as "expert stunts" and as unqualified verifiers by the House and Senate Veterans Committee. Clearly they do NOT listen to the rest of us and they do so at their own peril. Parrot-Head press strikes again because it would have occurred to just about anybody that American Legion is not qualified for this deceptive stunt which is largely staged to conceal the truth about the VA agency as a whole. ---------- Sue Frasier, Army 1970, national veterans activist.

vstillwell
vstillwell

My dad and my grandfather are members of the American Legion. They both depend on and appreciate the VA. The VA isn't perfect, but nothing is--especially in the healthcare industry. 

dyno2
dyno2

I watched returning veterans who were operated on wheeled out into the hallways that we noisy, dirty, and cold. I watched as veterans waited hours for treatments or just an appointment. Wake up remember the Walter Reed incident!! Remember how many veterans are committing suicide how many of those men and women were turned away. This article is part of a brain washing government idea to influence you and everyone else things are great nothing but smoke and mirrors and big used car sales approach. Yes indeed there are good people doing great things at the VA. 1,000,000 backlogged claims can't get any answers from 1-800-827-1000 line. It doesn't matter who you try to contact no one answers. Claims going on for over 5, 10, 15, 20 + years millions in bonus money. Chicago, Oakland, Philadelphia, etc all terrible IG reports. Go on believing what you will.

vstillwell
vstillwell

Well, I spent about every weekend in a VA hospital visiting my dad when I was in middle school. They treated him well. They got him healthy when no one else could. 

I spent numerous days at the Kansas City VA hospital visiting my grandfather. Again, they treated him well and keep him healthy.

A lot of the problems you are blaming the VA for are actually Congress' problems and the American people's problems. They sent our military personnel on repeated deployments and didn't do enough to make sure the VA was funded and equipped to handle the carnage. Also, head trauma and stress disorders are just coming to light. How could the VA know that insurgents would use IEDs? 

Yes the VA needs to better, but the last time I dealt with my private insurance company, my claims went unanswered. Again, it's nothing unique to the VA. 

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