More than 100 veterans died while waiting for care at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles, Ca., over a nine-month span ending in August 2015. This hits home for me not just as a member of the military, but as a third-generation United States Marine, born and raised in Los Angeles. My father and grandfather, also United States Marines, both received their care at the Los Angeles VA hospital. I recall the stories from my father about the delayed care, misdiagnosis, and poor service. Al Disney would joke about the care at the VA being so poor, that he would rather go to jail. This was many years ago when no one was watching the care given to our veterans.
Not until major wait list or quality of care scandals like Phoenix, Washington DC, and now Los Angeles VA hospital, has the public become aware of the need for major reforms in the VA health care system.
It’s unbelievable that many Senators have yet to support strong accountability legislation that would allow reform of the toxic culture that is slowly being exposed at the VA. These measures would allow veterans choice in where they seek their health care and punish those engaging in misconduct. The only reason these reforms are not universally embraced is because lawmakers are overly concerned with union and bureaucratic interests to challenge the status quo.
Many at the VA are fellow veterans, great employees, and focused on serving veterans. Unfortunately, there are others whose priorities are skewed. They serve themselves or the bloated bureaucracy. They have lost sight of what their job is – to fulfill the promise of care made to veterans. I’m appalled by what has happened at my hometown VA in Los Angeles as a military veteran, but most of all as the son and grandson of Marines who were subject to the same lack of immediate care from the department meant to help them. It is unacceptable that any family should mourn loss because their veteran had to wait too long for care at the VA. As I personally currently sit on a waitlist at a VA Facility since September of 2016, the Senate must act now to bring accountability to the VA’s bad actors and provide choices for veterans so they are not dying while in line for care. This is life or death legislation.
Rick Disney is the Florida Senior Field Director Concerned Veterans for America
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