By now, most people are aware of the recent news concerning the appalling treatment of veterans at the Phoenix VA Medical Center, where two separate patient lists were created to allow the facility to give the appearance of compliance with the federal guidelines set for serving veterans.
While the facility was feigning compliance, administrators were allegedly receiving bonuses. Even worse, over 40 veteran patients who trusted in the health care promise of their government died while awaiting appointments that would never come. Such treatment is inexcusable and criminal.
Consider this incident just one more warning. Systems are created and regulated by people, and people, sadly, don’t always have others’ best interests in mind. As a veteran, that should be clear by now. For those fortunate enough to have health care outside of the VA system, good for you. For many, that isn’t the case.
Regardless of the source of health care, it’s important to participate in one’s own well-being. If unhappy with VA service, tell the patient representative at the facility. If still dissatisfied, complain to a veterans service officer. If you don’t like your doctor, get another one. The VA was created to serve veterans, not themselves. If they are not serving you, they’re likely not serving others as well. By demanding excellence, a minefield is being cleared for those who’ll come along behind.
As for the Phoenix incident, I fault the local VSOs for not paying attention. In my opinion, most VSOs are part of nothing more than members of social clubs. That too is inexcusable. The purpose of the VSO is not only care for those members within their charge, but to care for veterans at large. It’s their job to police the veteran community, to make sure that veterans are informed and cared for.
Locally, we in Mineral Wells are very fortunate. We have an excellent VSO, Lee Downs. With a large community of veterans locally, it’s very important to save that long drive to Fort Worth or Dallas just to get the right answer. Down’s professionalism and knowledge has helped hundreds of veterans, not only in this community, but throughout the United States and overseas.
AMVETS is very proud to claim him as a member and salute his continued efforts on behalf of veterans everywhere. If in need of good advice, contact Downs at the Mineral Wells VFW.