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VA is broken

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opinion Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

I recently (Feb. 12) watched an article on Fox News Network where they were talking about the Navy SEAL that actually pulled the trigger on Bin Laden, and the trouble he was having getting medical and veterans benefits from our Veteran’ Affairs (VA) system.

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This veteran is not alone.

VA healthcare and benefits have continually gone downhill in all aspects since Mr. Eric Shinseki was appointed as VA Secretary by President Obama. This broken system echoes itself at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis as well as all around the country.

I was recently at the VA hospital in Minneapolis (Feb 11) for medical attention. In virtually every clinic and, with all appointment letters, they have signs and verbage that says,”please be on time for your appointment out of respect for fellow veterans. If you are not seen within 15 minutes of your appointment, please come to the desk.” I was 15 minutes early for my appointment at 9 a.m. and was not called in to see the doctor until 10:30 a.m. This was after fasting with no solid foods or diabetes medications for two days.

Other veterans were also in this position and complaining. The receptionist told us that two of the four doctors didn’t make it in that day. After finally getting in to see the doctor, the nurse told us that the reason was that the previous patient had problems with his treatment and that was the reason for the delay. Now, who was lying? This goes on in every clinic. There are lines in the hallways where veterans are waiting to be served for over one hour at times. There is no seating, just stand up in hallways. Take a number and wait. Spouses and guardians are also standing with their veteran. These are veterans in wheelchairs, quadriplegics, paraplegics, seniors, veterans w/canes, deaf, blind, chemical dependent and mental health issues. Veterans are treated like animals at the VA hospital.

After waiting in line for extended periods of time and you finally get to the front of the line, you have some clerk harass you and treat you like garbage just to accomplish your appointment. Veterans’ travel pay has been cut, through a failed system and some veterans are not even allowed to be treated at the hospital. This after seeing the same doctor for years. You are now required to be seen elsewhere. You can go just about anywhere in this hospital and see discouraged veterans being mistreated. Veterans are not alone. In a recent congressional inquiry by Congressman Cravaack’s office, his representative was told he was not on the agenda for that month and he would have to come back. This was by the VA Regional Director in St. Louis. This is a United States congressman, ladies and gentleman. This shows the boldness and brashness of the VA leadership under the current Secretary of the VA, Mr. Eric Shinseki, in Washington, D.C. This type of treatment is echoed throughout the VA system nationwide.

Since nothing is being done, one can only assume that President Obama concurs with this treatment of our veterans. Waiting lists of over two years still exist for new claims. As you can see, this is not the only issue.

The VA hospitals play games in the management of medical records also. Any veteran should be allowed to be seen at any VA facility in the world. Not so, without harassment. Above, are listed only a few of the terrible treatment issues in the VA system. The Minneapolis VA hospital is no stranger to this mistreatment of veterans. This poor care and treatment is in the administration as well as the direct medical care of our veterans. Media personnel, TV, radio, newsprint etc, are kept arms length from these VA facilities and are not allowed in without permission or escort, thereby eliminating any investigating of these issues. The VA states that this is to protect the privacy of veterans. Wrong, it is to keep the public from actually seeing what is going on with America’s finest, our veterans.

Recent studies show that 20 veterans per day are committing suicide, nationwide. One trip to the mental health clinics will answer this question. Veterans’ medical records are not protected as they once were. They are made available to a multitude of people. This problem will not go away under the current leadership of the VA in Washington, D.C.

To the citizens of this great country, I ask that you take issue with this failed system and demand an immediate fix for it. To our Minnesota congressional delegation, I ask that you take a leadership role in Washington in correcting this problem. Remember, fellow citizens and legislators, your freedom was brought to you by these great people, our veterans. Do not discard them as they wear out. While our veterans pay the price, VA employees continue to go home every Friday with paycheck in hand.

The system is broken. All gave some, some gave all.

Charles L. Makidon, DAV

Former Commander,

DAV Chapter 2, St. Paul

Backus

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