John Furie Zacharias
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Wednesday, February 16, 2005
YCMTSU - Veterans Administration


 The United States Congress
Andrew V. was an Army officer that I served with in Sadr City. A police officer in civilian life, he was decorated with the Bronze Star for his acts in Iraq. Upon his return, he faced serious problems dealing with the readjustment to civilian life. Alcohol, PTSD, and family problems worsened, and nothing helped. In the summer of 2004, he donned his formal Army uniform, placed a noose around his neck, and stepped from a bridge, killing himself. He left behind a wife and a legacy of faithful service to his country.

-- from an open letter to U.S. Senator Cornyn
by Jason Thelen via Veterans for Common Sense

Read the letter by Jason Thelen.  His concern about veterans health care is not solely based on a few personal anecdotal examples -- as tragic and moving as they are.  Jason's concern also stems from reading articles in his local newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, about the lack of proper health care for veterans, especially in the Dallas area.

It has to be a bitterly ironic pill to read the headline, "Dallas VA hospital is nation's worst," in the Democrusader's home state of Texas.  If I was a returning veteran from Iraq, I'd be outraged to read newspaper headlines like "Survey rips VA nurses -- Medical students say Dallas hospital staff incompetent; chief says problems are 'isolated'."

I'm concerned about the seeming disconnect from the Bush Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress with the facts on the ground.  I'm not talking about the Democrusader's spin machine concerning Iraq.  I'm specifically talking about the Veterans Administration.

You Can't Make This Shit Up
The newly appointed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Jim Nicholson, is now in charge of the largest health care operation in the United States, comprised of more than 230,000 employees servicing over five million veteran patients annually.

What are Nicholson's qualifications for this position?  For the last three years, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican -- the smallest principality on the planet.  While Nicholson is a Vietnam-era vet, I think the fact that Jim Nicholson was a national Republican Party Chairman weighed more heavily on his work resume than anything else.

So, while we all know that the demands on the VA will be increasing because of the Democrusader's global war on terror, we also know that the guy in charge of the Veterans Administration may be nothing more than a loyal GOP Insider, a Yes Man and a Bush Buttboy.

My opinion of Nicholson may be poor simply because he seems to be simply spinning the 2.7% percent increase in the FY2006 budget as wonderful.  At the same time, I listen to GOP budget priorities:
Larry Craig, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said the proposals to charge some veterans annual health care fees of $250 and increase their prescription drug co-payment from $7 to $15 must be considered in lean budget times.
While that may seem reasonable enough to you, it's a slap in the face to veterans when our so-called lean budget times are caused by the never-ending cost and consequence of the Democrusader's war of choice in Iraq, compounded with a multi-trillion dollar federal budget deficit.

I fail to see the compassionate conservative ideals and priorities that we were all sold in 2000 and 2004.  Like Jason Thelan, other veterans in the Democrusader's home state of Texas are not so pleased, either.




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[Headphones] :: Disfigured Humanity - Yves 'evillair' Allaire



Posted at 11:31 am by John Furie Zacharias

Lyly
February 16, 2005   12:20 PM PST
 
My father, a WWII vet, had to fight for every bit of "health care" he got from the substandard VA hospital 'doctor' in suburban NYC. They cut corners where and whenever they could, like skimping on local anesthesia when he had a procedure done to correct carpel tunnel. He would come home angry and wondering where the doctor earned his degree--or if he had one at all.

Fortunately he was sent to a private hospitial to have his pacemaker put in and was seen by private doctors after until he eventually passed away from CHF. But during those final years, which prolonged his life for about 4 years - long enough to see his grandson - it was obvious from his demeanor that the care he received was much better than that at the VA.
J f Z
February 16, 2005   10:58 PM PST
 
While I may not be as adroit in financial or economic information as a guy like Brandon Starr, I think a 2.7% increase from last year's budget for discretionary spending probably only keeps pace with the annual inflation for the cost of goods (medical supplies, etc) the VA must buy to operate added with the increasing cost of a federal labor force of 230,000 employees.

Given those factors, I don't think the FY2006 Veterans Administration budget has been increased at all.

Top a static budget off with not only the reality that more soldiers are coming home from Iraq (primarily) with physical and mental injuries, but also it is a fact these injuries are more severe, require more healthcare at a higher cost, and are tragically life-long.

The bottomline is that the flat FY2006 budget means that the VA has the same amount of money its wallet, but will be treating more veterans. To balance this reality, VA likely will be laying people off which diminishes the quality of veterans healthcare. Or, the VA could resort to closing facilities which will make it more difficult for vets to get the care.

Studies show that an estimated third of all homeless people in the United States are military veterans. It's a significant population of people that aren't likely to be able to hop into their SUV and drive 100 miles to get to a VA facility -- to be utterly sarcastic about 'this president's historic support of the military' that you might here about from Dubya-defender media pundits or lemming GOP politicians in the U.S. Congress.
 

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