As a veteran, I have been observing the ongoing events at the Department of Veterans Affairs with more than a passing interest. Secret lists, overwhelmed medical facilities, a seemingly impenetrable bureaucracy, misguided compensation for questionable management practices – the hits just never seem to keep coming when it comes to news about he VA.
As a veteran, I am also a consumer of the VA’s programs: I was fortunate to be able to use the GI Bill for school, I go to a VA medical clinic for my checkups, and I engage with VA representatives who work hard every day to help veterans find jobs.
For me it is an interesting dichotomy. I am neither a VA basher nor a VA cheerleader, but instead I am simply one of the approximately 22 million men and women in the United States who fall under the purview of the Department of Veterans Affairs. And, to be quite honest, my experience has been a good one.
Because of the VA I was able to attend the University of Colorado to pursue my bachelor’s degree and, twenty years later, the University of Southern California and attain a Masters degree in Business Administration. The nagging physical conditions that I incurred as a result of 27 years in uniform are covered by the VA medical system, and I have never had a really negative experience in obtaining care or the quality of the care that I have received. I bought a house using a VA loan. Twice. I have a host of benefits as a result of my service; things ranging from access to state and federal parks for free (or at least at a discount) to increased opportunities for my children when they pursue college on their own.
The VA has some real problems, of that there is no doubt. Eric Shinseki, an honorable man, retired general, and decorated combat veteran, was necessarily sacrificed on the altar of responsibility that comes with being the man in charge, and his ouster certainly sends a clear message that the VA will be accountable for its performance.
As it should be.
But let’s not forget for a moment the millions of veterans who are receiving the benefits that they have earned by wearing the cloth of the nation, the overwhelming majority of which are administered by dedicated and professional men and women who work at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Overgeneralization paints those who work diligently and assiduously with the same brush of those who are dishonest and unengaged, and to paint them all with the same brush does a disservice that the countless dedicated and hard working people at the VA do not deserve.
So remember that the VA is doing a tremendous amount of really great work for veterans even though some elements of the organization have failed to meet their obligation. There is a baby in that bathwater- make sure it doesn’t get thrown out!
I have also had some very good interaction with the VA. I have used my VA Benefits for my MBA and other post graduate studies, but I am also a disabled veteran who uses the local VA Center in Virginia. I have nothing but good things to say about the treatment I have recieved from them. The doctors and facilities have been very good to me.
As for waiting lists for changes to my VA paperwork over the years, there I do find some problems. I have been waiting on responses from them regarding some changes I requested to update my family members and my son attending college, but I have been on the wait list for resolution of these for about 17 months now. The backlog is real, and in my case, I don’t think mine is more important then many others, so I am willing to wait so others can get more important issues solved.
In closing, I would like to see the VA continue to do good things and improve in areas that need improving. Lets not call the entire organization bad based on the bad reports surfacing.
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Well, I don’t the VA Has benefited some of us veterans. On the otherhand you can’t ignore the death of 1000’s of those who served that were neglected then perished when it could’ve been avoided. I have s saying, “Not on My Watch” when I was in Iraq & I live by that ever since. I’m disappointed in the lack of concern and the cover-up behind the whole ordeal. “Treat Everyone the Way you would want to be Treated” This was not the case.
True enough. You can’t ignore the horrible actions of many of those in the VA who allowed such a tragedy to occur, but you also should not ignore the tens of thousands of VA folks who are professionals and do the best they can. Fortunately, the light of day is reaching those who have done wrong by the veterans in their charge, and I hope that they are punished within the fullest extent of the law.
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