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The Checkered Past of the Veteran’s Administration

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 12: (L-R) Humana Government Business President Tim McClain, The Studer Group Chief Operating Officer Dan Collard and the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths Chairman Betsy McCaughey testify before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee about the bureacracy in veterans health care in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 12, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee is reviewing all aspects of veterans care after it was discovered that Veterans Health Administration officials manipulated medical waiting lists and delayed care for thousands of veterans. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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The news media has been packed with stories about medical care for veterans in recent months. Everything from inadequate care to long waits for appointments.

As a Vietnam Vet myself, it pains me to read these kinds of stories because I have not experienced any negatives with any VA treatment that I’ve needed.

However, the current scandals are not the first, and will probably not be the last, for the troubled Veteran’s Administration.

A History of VA Problems and Scandals

The VA was born on this date in 1930 to replace the corrupt Veteran’s Bureau and two other agencies involved in veteran’s care started in 1921. The Veterans Bureau was to administer medical and other assistance to WW I veterans.

  • 1932 – Federal Troops end up removing thousands of WWI vets and their families during a protest demanding promised war bonuses that were never paid.
  • 1947 – A government commission formed to reform government discovers enormous waste, duplication and inadequate care in the VA system. They recommend comprehensive structural changes.
  •  1955 – Once again massive waste and poor care are uncovered within the VA by another government reform commission.
  • 1970’s – Veterans frustrations rise because of inadequate funding and the lack of recognition of “Agent Orange” as a possible cause of many health problems of Vietnam Vets.
  • 1981 – Protests at Wadsworth Veterans Medical Center in Los Angeles are held after a former Marine committed suicide by crashing his jeep into the hospital lobby. He felt that the VA had not addressed his service-related medical issues.
  • 1984 – Investigators uncover evidence that $40 million in taxpayer money had either been diverted, or never spent by VA officials. The money was intended to help Vietnam Veterans with problems related to readjustment to civilian life.
  • 1986 – According to a 1988 GAO (Government Accounting Office) report 93 physicians were found to have sanctions against their medical licenses, some had suspensions and revocations of their licenses.
  • 1991 - Following the deaths of eight patients, doctors at the North Chicago VA hospital were found guilty of ignoring test results, failing to provide timely treatment, and often conducted unnecessary surgery. All surgeries were suspended.
  • 2009 – Veterans in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida were exposed to viral infections due to poorly disinfected equipment during colonoscopies. Thirty-seven veterans tested positive for two forms of hepatitis and another six tested positive for HIV.
  • 2011 – A dentist at a Dayton, Ohio VA clinic was responsible for nine cases of hepatitis during routine dental work. The dentist admitted to not washing his hands or even changing gloves between patients for 18 years.

Some Final Thoughts

This is only a small sample of abuses I found spanning 90 years or more. When lumped together over that length of time it does not instill a lot of confidence in our medical system, let alone the VA. But it does reveal one glaring fact.

The US Government is great at passing out money for every feel good, vote-getting program they can find. But they suck at policing those programs because there is little or no cash allotted for enforcement and accountability for the use of the funds.

Until that problem is addressed not only the VA, but Medicare, Medicaid, and most other programs will continue to be abusive to the very people they are designed to help.

Read or Subscribe to all Tom Egelhoff’s Daily Blog Posts by Clicking Here

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