Op-Ed: Only $ will solve VA hospital problems

Posted Jun 11, 2014 by Robert Weller
There is no issue in the United States where hypocrisy plays as big a role as the failure to care for wounded and ill veterans. It's a job for triage.
This photo taken on May 28  2014 shows staff at Heathe N. Craig Joint Theatre Hospital waiting to gr...
This photo taken on May 28, 2014 shows staff at Heathe N. Craig Joint Theatre Hospital waiting to greet wounded veterans during 'Operation Proper Exit' at Bagram Airfield some 60 km north of Kabul on May 28, 2014
Brendan Smialowski, AFP/File
TV talking heads can talk about old computers, sleezey administrators, lying congressional leaders, and a whole host of other problems.
But the problem can be summarized in one word: money.
Many voices warned that when we sent soldiers to Iraq on America’s “even for 911 mission” it would overwhelm existing facilities.
The story goes all the way to the American Revolutionary War. Even Caesar had problems.
Closer to the present, in January 2003 a total of 236,000 vets had waited more than six months for care, according to a commission created by President George Bush.
It was a war most everyone wanted to fight but few wanted to pay for. Taxes were lowered.
Indeed, with an economic recession on the horizon, though hidden by get rich quick schemes, the spending was concomitant with a growing desire to reduce the size of government.
Nothing was exempt. Even first responders at 911 had to fight to get decent medical care, and some died before they did.
At the same the government put as many obstacles in the path of veterans seeking care as possible, denying, for example, that Agent Orange crippled Vietnam vets.
The military resisted recognizing PTSD, though its doctors were aware of it since World War 2.
Retired military veterans had the equivalent of privatization done to their promised heath care.
Although it is popular to speak about protecting veterans, they only make up 13 percent of the population.
The Afghan and Iraq wars added two million more, again a very small number. Small potatoes by U.S. lobbying standards.
Daily Show host Jon Stewart made it clear that neither party is pushing to make helping veterans a major priority.
"On this Memorial Day weekend eve, we can finally admit that America has had for over 200 years a great bipartisan tradition of honoring those who have fought for our freedom by fucking them over once they give their guns back," Stewart said.
Somewhere around $54 billion is being spent now. Some had estimated the two latest wars will cost more than $2 trillion.
And even if the political will was found to pay the bill, it is not at all clear that the doctors and hospitals would be available for such loads.