Other views: VA health care system is a frustrating failure
We need YOU!" Uncle Sam says pointing his finger to men and women like my grandfather, uncles, father and husband. He points his finger at my children. Making promises to them. Only after they sign on, he changes the rules. Veterans can attes...
We need YOU!" Uncle Sam says pointing his finger to men and women like my grandfather, uncles, father and husband. He points his finger at my children. Making promises to them. Only after they sign on, he changes the rules. Veterans can attest to this.
My husband, who was in Desert Storm, was medically retired from the Air Force after having back surgery in 1990, has first-hand knowledge of how the rules have changed for the veteran and their families. He was promised that our nation would take care of those who suffered injuries and disabilities so that they could live a life of dignity. We are lucky, we were once told, we can obtain medical treatment from the Veterans Administration. Why then do I not feel lucky?
Why must it be after we visit the VA center, we leave there feeling we would have been better off if we would have just driven our car into a brick wall?
To obtain this medical treatment, my husband has to go to the VA 2½ hours away. But they don't have the proper specialist to see him. We start with a family practitioner for a referral to see a specialist. Getting this is almost an act of congress. Then to Minneapolis VA center five hours away. There, they want him to wait. Rely on more pain pills and learn to "deal."
In 1997 it was too much pain to "deal" with. Now we are dealing with the Des Moines (Iowa) VA center. Again they didn't have the proper specialist; they sent us to Omaha (Neb.) VA center four hours away. We showed up for our appointment only to find out after waiting for 1½ hours, the physician left for the day. They were sorry. Wasted trip.
Long story short, he had another back surgery at the Omaha VA center in 1997. He is now 37 and facing another surgery for his back. So we play the game of trying to get a referral for the Fargo VA. Finally we get the referral for Minneapolis only to find out they no longer have a specialist and we must drive to either Iowa or Omaha. He can barely sit without pain and they want him to drive 10 hours.
Many frustrating calls later, they finally agree to make an appointment for him to see a specialist outside of the VA in Fargo. We get to our appointment but the VA can't seem to find his films so the doctor is unable give my husband the proper care. Fargo blames Minneapolis and Minneapolis blames Fargo. I did some digging and found out the films were in Fargo the whole time. Once again a wasted trip.
They are short staffed, going through changes. They are sorry. Yet they enjoyed Veterans Day off because of the veteran. They enjoy freedom because of the veteran. The same veteran who this VA system has let slip through the cracks over and over again.
Welter, Bemidji, Minn., can be reached at StacyWelter@meritcare.com