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Matt McClellan
Professor David R. DiSarro
1 August 2014

The Poor State of Veterans Affairs

When most people think about Veteran’s Affairs (VA) hospitals, they think, here is this
great program the government has set up with government run hospitals and doctors, to
specifically help current and former disabled employees. It is a wonderful thought most
employers will not take into consideration. People are under the impression, when they join
the military to serve their country, they will in turn, be given the appropriate care for any
ailments or life changing events they may encounter them during their time in service.
The fact of the matter is, currently the government has little knowledge of how this
program is conducting business, and a great deal of people, including myself, feel the time has
come for the government to take action and revise this poorly run entity. Recently there have
been numerous events brought to light in the news, about VA hospitals failure to give basic care
to patients under the VA care. The Department of Veterans Affairs has come under heavy
scrutiny for long waiting periods and poor treatment to veterans with life threatening
disabilities. There has allegedly been a secret list of veterans put on waiting list for long
periods of time, some more than six months to see a specialist for a debilitating issue. The
issue that makes me so upset, is many of these veterans have life threatening issues they
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received while fighting for this country. I understand some of the people that go for VA help
maybe, or are currently “milking the system”, but I believe these people are the minority of
wounded and disabled veterans. Every system will have a group of people trying to get
something for nothing. That’s the direction our society is turning, one could argue that identity
theft and fraudulent welfare claims as examples. According to reports approximately 40 men
have died while on this “secret list” waiting for treatment. Just recently three congressmen
from Arizona wrote a letter to The Veterans Affairs Secretary, Eric K. Shinseki, calling for the
removal of the Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman. Shinseki took matters a step further and
along with Helman, put Associate Director Lance Robinson and a third unnamed representative
on administrative leave. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) is calling for Shinseki, a disabled
veteran himself, to resign also (Cindy C. 2014).
Shinseki has come under fire for letting the organization slip as far as it has. There are
many questions left unanswered, and to many officials running these programs unrestricted.
They seem to be making their own rules without any ramifications and no other leading official
to answer to. According to David Espo, an outside agency called Republican-supporting
Crossroads GPS, reported there are “1,700 former members of the service seeking hard-to-get
appointments at the Phoenix VA hospital never had been placed on the official waiting list and
were at risk of being forgotten”(2014).
There are some that argue money is the problem. There are many new veterans coming
in, because the country is fighting in so many different wars and conflicts. The other issue is
these new veterans are coming in with very difficult problems. They are not coming for colds
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and scratches. These men and woman are coming, because they lost appendages and saw
good friends get blown up in front of them by Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). This is a valid
point, with new wars come new problems. Along with the current veterans coming in for
treatment, the VA is seeing a great deal of older veterans are coming in that are just realizing
they have a problem, or have had a problem and did not realize it, or are tired of living with the
problems they have had since their time in service. Some as far back as the Vietnam War are
just now coming forward. I know my father, who hates doctors in general, and would never go
see one under his own power, has lived with difficulties from Vietnam most of his life. Now is
probably a bad time for these older veterans to come forward, but when you are done, you are
done. If they cannot live with the pain any longer, they should be able to get treatment
regardless of the amount of new veterans using the service.
The government does not believe it is a financial issue because according to Rep. Jeff
Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, it’s an "issue of manipulation
and mismanagement." On CNN, Rep. Miller goes on to say "If money was the issue, this
problem would have been solved a long time ago,"
Many veterans groups are saying the budget increase was not enough to support the
type and amount of problems current veterans are facing. According to these previously
mentioned veterans groups there are two million new veterans coming in to VA hospitals for
treatment, and the budget increase was not sufficient to support these numbers. The belief is
congress is trying to use this as a political playing card to swing votes in the respective parties
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The point I am trying to push, is these men and women should get the attention they
deserve, instead of the government fumbling around trying to decide how to fix a problem they
let get out of hand. I have been lucky enough to join the military and not serve in a war. I was
fully aware and prepared to fight for my country had the need arose, and there are many more
soldiers/sailors just like myself, that do not need any medical treatment. The number of
individuals needing treatment is much less than the number that served and out of that number
there is only a percentage needing specialized treatment.??????( more info needed)

Rich S. (2014) The Los Angeles Times. THE NATION; Some lawmakers want criminal inquiry of
VA; Justice Department needs to look into the scandal, members of both parties say. Retrieved

Cindy C. (2014) The Los Angeles Times. THE NATION; VA hospital inquiry intensifies; At least 40
veterans died awaiting treatment at Phoenix facility, which hid the delays, workers say.
Retrieved from

NPR.ORG (2011) By The Numbers: Today's Military. Retrieved from

David E. (2014) Associated Press. Seeking Political Gain Over VA Issues. Retrieved from (2014) American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS
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Retrieved from

A slightly longer paper (approximately 5 – 6 pages) where students will choose a specific
product, program, practice, policy, or service currently being debated (such as energy drinks,
universal healthcare, the use of Wikipedia as an academic source, employers checking the
Facebook profiles of employees, etc.), interrogate the common perceptions surrounding their
topic, and argue for a particular position in order to persuade others. Students will be required to
address the possible counterarguments of their chosen topic and must utilize outside
research. Students also have the option to compose a video essay for this assignment.