There are over 8 million veterans enrolled to receive a wide range of services through the VA. In 2013 alone, the VA accommodated almost 90 million outpatient visits; that’s an average of almost 250,000 appointments every day.
Those numbers should help explain why for-profit hospitals and people like the Koch Brothers are fighting so hard to privatize veterans’ health care.
I served two tours in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I get great care from the VA. And while we should always strive to decrease wait times, I am not alone. According to independent polls, over 90% of veterans approve of their inpatient and outpatient care through the VA.
In 2014 after the VA crisis, Congress passed a large veterans health care bill that authorized funds to hire more doctors and nurses to keep up with the influx of veterans recently returned from two new wars overseas. But the legislation also called for a commission to develop recommendations for improving veterans’ health care (The Commission on Care). And I am sad to tell you, a number of members of the commission are trying to phase out all VA hospitals and clinics over the next two decades.
We can stop them.
Privatizing the system would severely under-fund the department, leaving many veterans with service-connected injuries out in the cold. Often times, VA centers are equipped to deal with specialized care, amputations and traumatic brain injuries, in a way a local doctor or hospital may not be.
For veterans in need of specialized care, both physical and mental, they may not have a caregiver to turn to in their area.
But more to the point, as a RAND study recently indicated, “the quality of care provided by the VA health system generally was as good as or better than other health systems on most quality measures.”
This is not only a very real legislative issue, but it will also be an election issue. The Koch Brothers, who have an employee on the “Commission on Care,” are going to spend untold millions on the presidential and senate races through their shell organization, Concerned Veterans for America.
That is why it is so important we stand together to make our voices heard.
All my best,