By WILLIAM J. KELLY
We read a lot about the alleged long delays in getting an appointment for treatment at the VA hospitals, some delays so long that the patient dies before obtaining one. I cannot think of anything more stupid by a family than to let a loved one die because they could not get an appointment for free care at the VA. Then they sue the VA, and obviously, in today’s legal climate, they get favorable verdicts and damage money is paid, thus taking available funds for care away from wounded veterans who need care badly. I sympathize with the families who lost a loved one, but if that veteran was so ill that he or she died because of an appointment delay, I would doubt that VA doctors could have done much more than delay the final outcome.
I heard on a Memorial Day program almost 50 percent of veterans from the present wars have sought care from the VA. That may be part of the problem in delays. I came out of World War II with scars on the corneas of both eyes. When I realized the VA, at that time, did not have the ability to take care of me, I took matters into my own hands and located a good ophthalmologist. Although it took a year of treatments, he was able to get my vision back so I was able to function, almost normally, at work and school. I don’t regret doing that at all. Veterans, although doing nothing wrong, should take care of minor things on their own if possible and leave the VA to take care of your severely wounded buddies. What do you think?
Veterans’ service organizations
We have more than 2.5 million veterans who served honorably in these last foreign wars. It is the hard work of all these service organizations that has made possible the present VA care and service-connected injury pensions. Yet these service organizations have a difficult time getting enough members to do the needed work. Gen. Colin Powell mentioned the work of the service clubs on Memorial Day. Also mentioned was that 50 percent of these veterans are asking the VA for care. This seems out of line to me. Investigating these claims slows down the entire care system. In my opinion, the VA is doing a good job appointment-wise. Just a few years ago they were overbooking a given time, and I had sat there from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and had to drive 75 miles back home without ever seeing a doctor. That has changed, and now your doctor generally sees you within 15 minutes of your appointment time. That time is better than most civilian doctors keep. Veterans, before you complain, talk to some old veterans about the care they received, and then you will begin to see how well you now have it. Please join one of the service organizations and help them in their work to keep and improve veteran care. What do you think?