I was hoping to save this content for the book I am finishing on the process of exiting the military after years of war to reclaim your position in society, however my tea kettle has just officially boiled over. First, let us start with one of the most contemptuous things to be hurled at a soldier since the advent of the grenade - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Like most of my fellow war fighters I despise this term. The term "disorder" doesn't just imply that there is something tangibly wrong with you; it flat out states it. This in and of its self has been reason enough for many veterans to avoid seeking help. Sadly, the hurdles do not cease with nomenclature. The negative stigma of being labeled as having a disorder has kept countless veterans away from mental health facilities resulting in self-medicating in the form of drugs and alcohol. read moreCNN published this piece last week. A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list.
About a month ago, Ranger Up published this video: The Wizard of VA
There is a major problem in the VA. Veterans are dying waiting for care, and the system is so overwhelmed it can't handle the volume. Rather than admit it can't handle the volume and ask for help through local medical centers, the VA hides secret waiting lists they are not permitted to maintain. I experienced it myself at the Robert J. Dole Regional VA Hospital in Wichita Kansas a few years ago. They couldn't schedule me an appointment within two weeks, so they said they "would call me back when they could schedule an appointment within two weeks". "So you're putting me on a waiting list" says I. "Oh no, we aren't allowed to have waiting lists" was the response.
So how do you know to call me when you can schedule me within the next two weeks, unless you have a waiting list?
Vietnam Veterans have long claimed the VA's unofficial motto is "Delay, deny until you die". A quick google search this morning turned up this piece, from 2010.
Veterans die awaiting benefits - from 2012
Here's a story about a widow and her deceased husband's struggle with the VA - from 2013.
These are all different VA's, with the same result. Dead Veterans, unresolved or ignored, or lost, claims.
The VA continues to assert that claims processing time and pending claims are being reduced, the latest aptly enough released on April 1st.
But the VA doesn't talk about the backlog created by the appeal of denied claims.
Sadly enough, it seems the Nation little understands, or cares about the terrible treatment of and injustice done to our Veterans. There should be a national outcry, demanding the system be fixed - truly fixed, not pencil-drilled.
Want to fix this quickly? Close every VA care facility and allow Veterans to have their service-connected condition treated by a local medical facility, similarly to private health insurance.
Until that happens, we Veterans have to take care of ourselves. Check out this piece written about a Marine transitioning:
It may not seem like much, but sometimes a casual conversation can be the start of a journey towards healing. After 4 combat deployments, 3 in Afghanistan and 1 in Iraq, George found the transition adjusting to life stateside a little more challenging than the other times he came home. Nightmares, fits of rage, disproportionate emotional responses and flashbacks had become common but certainly not welcome parts of his life. As he was recovering from an IED rollover incident and assigned to a new unit, he met Alex. It was the genuine support from Alex that ultimately was going to be just what he needed; knowing that he could share and not be judged. Stopping by to chat one day turned into a long discussion that allowed both men to share their experiences and common struggles. Seeing where he needed guidance to work through his post-traumatic stress was a gateway to a new life with a hope of recovery and a brighter, happier future...read more.
The hope for our Veterans lies not in the VA system, it lies in community. The community of local Veterans helping each other. Get involved.