By Emmanuel Gutierrez |Staff Writer|
Veteran care will be expanded to private hospitals in response to relieve the waiting list for medical care, announced Eric Shinseki, Veterans Affair secretary on May 24.
The decision to allow more veterans to get treatment at private hospitals and clinics is an attempt to relieve overpopulated Veterans Affairs facilities, which are struggling to treat incoming patients as well as older soldiers, according to The Guardian.
“As Commander in Chief, I believe that taking care of our veterans and their families is a sacred obligation,” said President Barack Obama.
The backlash is in response to scandals involving employees falsifying records nationwide and “allegations that at least 40 veterans died while waiting for appointments at a VA hospital in Phoenix,” according to The Guardian.
The department inspector general said, “26 VA facilities are under investigation,” including the hospital located in Phoenix, according to The Guardian.
“You’ve got an entrenched bureaucracy that exists out there that is not held accountable, that is shooting for goals, goals that are not helping the veterans,” said Representative Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
“The allegations have raised fresh concerns about the administration’s management of a department that has been struggling to keep up with the influx of veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Vietnam veterans needing more care as they age,” according to The Guardian.
The VA has “singular expertise in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Many injured soldiers have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with [. . .] poly-trauma,” according to The Boston Globe.
Poly-trauma is when a person has post-traumatic stress disorder in addition to traumatic brain injury and limb amputations.
“It appears the department is finally starting to take concrete steps to address the problem,” said Miller, calling the directive “a welcome change from the department’s previous approach, which was to wait months for the results of yet another investigation into a problem we already know exists.”
Spokeswoman Victoria Dillon revealed that $4.8 billion were spent last year on medical care at non-VA hospitals and clinics, which amounts to approximately 10 percent of healthcare costs.
“It was not clear how much the new initiative would cost,” added Dillon.
“I think it’s a good idea to expand the care at this point and time [. . .] because the VA is swamped,” said Jordan Gallinger student and Marine Corp. veteran.
“But it’s not a long term solution,” added Gallinger.
“Veterans have done much for us, to hesitate in their time of need would be contemptible,” said student Kangwook Noh.
“There’s been some shady stuff happening lately with them. I just hope all the bureaucratic junk doesn’t continue to get in the way of saving lives,” said student Stephanie Rodriguez.