April 19, 2013 11:44 pm ET
This major story has gone unnoticed by many … until now. On whose desk does the buck stop?
The story came across as a blip on the news, but it immediately made me think of my brother—a U.S. Army veteran who had become seriously ill, yet had his calls to the VA go unanswered. Thankfully, he drove himself to the downtown VA emergency room, where the doctors realized he was bleeding internally.
This serious and life threatening situation required immediate intervention, so my brother was admitted to the hospital for treatment. Thanks to the care and concern of a new VA doctor, he began to heal and finally was able to leave the hospital. I shudder to think what would have happened had my brother not taken the initiative to drive himself to the VA.
Sadly, for 20,000 of our brave military men and women, this was not the case; they died awaiting the necessary care that they needed to survive.
When I started my research for this blog, it seemed that this information was buried and that this topic was taboo. I verified my suspicions when I came across a story from a local FOX affiliate that documented the frustrations that veterans are having when dealing with the VA. After reading this information, I was shocked—not only by the obscene number of veterans awaiting care, but by the number of those that had died because of that negligence.
Again, my thoughts went back to my brother, who easily could have been one of the deceased had he not taken matters into his own hands.
The following is a comment by one of Patch’s readers that shows just how uninformed the public can be about this matter:
Your “20,000 Vets have died last year in the vets backlog” BS has been debunked several times on here and you continue to parrot it. 20,000 Vets had not received benefits for numerous reasons including fraud but you fail to mention that.
Stick to your gossip blog Kravitz.
Normally, such a crude and juvenile comment would be ignored. However, I used it as motivation to do some more research on the matter. I wanted to find more sources that would allow me to reveal the truth that continues to elude the public.
In my latest search for information, I found this article that, hopefully, will provide validity to my claims of VA negligence toward our veterans. And, in case anyone has any doubt about the information contained in the article, let me point out that the journalist that wrote this story—Jamie Reno—is an award-winning correspondent with 20 years of experience writing for trusted publications like Newsweek and Time, just to name a few.
Additionally, I found numerous other heart wrenching stories that describe the plight of our veterans, and all of them are very disturbing.
Another story caught my eye, but it left out the behind-the-scenes details that provide weight to the issue—details that the politicians want to see kept out of the news. There is no mention of the deaths as a result of the VA errors. I wondered if the information was omitted because the story focused on a local issue, or if the “20,000 dead” tally would embarrass some of those politicians of which I was speaking.
Apparently, someone is listening to what I’ve been saying, as evidenced by this story that jus appeared in the Sun.
What is most disturbing to me is one or our very own—Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger—who has this background posted on his website:
“Congressman Ruppersberger previously served on the powerful Appropriations and Government Reform Committees. He also served on the House Armed Services Committee, where he worked to help keep our country safe and make sure our veterans at home and as well as our warfighters [sic] on the frontlines have the resources they need.”
After the tragic incident in Boston on Monday, Ruppersberger’s site listed these press releases. I could find only one that deals with the health care of our veterans; if you read it, the release is confined to Maryland only, and it states that the hours of operation for the VA clinic are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
I believe people refer to those hours as “banker’s hours.” (For your inconvenience, the bank will only be open while you are busy doing other things…”)
I must give credit, though, to Senator Barbara Mikulski. She has spoken out on the national level to make demands for better care for our veterans.
What is even more amazing then the current situation regarding our vets is that this is nothing new and is actually part of our nation’s history.
Consider this fact from WW II: “In 1946, the VA had beds for about 82,000 patients but the VA rolls swelled to 15 million in just a few months and the hospitals were virtually all swamped. There were 26,000 non service related cases also on the waiting list. The VA was building new hospitals but had money for only 12,000 more beds. They came too few too late.”
Focus on that last sentence: “They came too few too late.” Let’s hope that there are leaders out there that step up to the plate, take the bull by the horns, and do what is needed to be done to care for these men and women who served our nation.
The two specific leaders that come to my mind are our commander in chief, President Obama, and the VA Secretary Eric Shinseke. I hope they are listening. And, more importantly, there are more than 800.000 vets that hope that this message is heard as well.