Letter: VA care

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  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 13, 2014 7:28 a.m.

    There are a million stories out there, some of them are true.

  • Kora Cedar Hills, UT
    June 13, 2014 12:20 a.m.

    Lane- My office sees any patient, even for physicals, within 1-2 days. It may be true for your specific doctor, but you choose not to switch to someone else. Veterans in the VA cannot do that.
    I actually have 2- physicals on my schedule for tomorrow that are new patients and called up today to schedule their appointments. Call the U or IHC as a new patient tomorrow morning and I will guarantee they can get you in for a physical next week, or tomorrow, even with Medicare/Medicaid. I know this is true because I look at the schedules in our practice and know we have availability tomorrow. So your wait times claim is pure fabrication.

    As for wait times for X-Rays, I can get a patient any imaging test I want done usually same day, and no later than next day at any of 5-places within a 5-mile radius of my office in Utah county, so that claim is bogus too. The competition causes these places to find a way to keep me sending patients there. The VA has no such incentive. When you are salaried, why do more work for the same pay?

  • Kora Cedar Hills, UT
    June 12, 2014 11:43 p.m.

    The problem with the commenters on here is none of you have ever worked at the VA from what I can tell. I have worked as a provider at the SLC VA and let me tell you what it is really like.

    First off, the majority of the doctors are contracted from the U of U. So when you are a patient, there is a good chance you are seeing a U physician or resident for your care. This is because they won't pay doctors well enough to work there full time.

    Secondly, the staff lacks incentive to work hard as it is very difficult to be fired. I remember ordering a STAT lab, and when we looked for the results, the nurse told us if we wanted it done, we should have drawn the blood ourselves.

    Thirdly, if you need anything done on a weekend or Federal holiday, good luck. They send you to the U for many emergencies due to lack of staff. What would they do if the U wasn't there?

    FYI, the U would be happy to take the Veterans at Medicare rates. They already are seeing their patients as mentioned above.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2014 9:05 a.m.


    USS Enterprise, UT

    What I wonder is why do we still have VA hospitals? Couldn't the same thing be done at the local hospitals? ...but what is the point of the VA hospitals now?


    Ask a veteran if they want to go to a regular hospital. Ask the U of U if they will take all the veterans for medicare wages. Ask the mental health personnel at any hospital what they know about PTS (there is no "D" now, btw). The VA is a specialized hospital that treated veterans.

    SL VA has just added a new womens wing. We now have enough women who are veterans to give them the specialized attention that they need. Their mental health division has also grown to help with the number of veterans returning with special problems in that area (suicides are rampant in the military AND with veterans).

    If you think that our promises to our veterans that they would have their own, specialized healthcare is not one that we need to fulfill, then find the doctors and nurses and medical centers that can and will accept these patients.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 12, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    Ultra Bob,

    I scheduled a physical with my doctor (I've been at the same clinic since I was born!) and that was in January of 2013. In September of 2013 I was finally seen for the physical. Wait times for non-emergency procedures in our for-profit, free market medical system here in Salt Lake is horrible too. 8 months to be seen for a physical!

    Yes, let's send all the new veterans to the doctors not in the VA. Instead of a 120 day wait, they will have a 240 day wait, as long as it is not an emergency!

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 11, 2014 5:38 p.m.

    Today my wife was livid over the wait time. She went to the doctor today for the two month x-ray of her neck. Not only does she have to wear the brace for her broken neck for another 4 weeks, the doctors office could not schedule her next x-ray for ten days after that. She says she feels fine now. This is private medicine where a doctor has his own personal x-ray machine.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 11, 2014 5:28 p.m.

    The reason we have the military is to protect the commercial interests of the people, that even includes you and me. That protection includes but is not limited to the following:
    War. Wars are the ultimate competition of businessmen. They are waged to protect or gain an economic advantage over foreign competitors.
    Foreign aid. Used to buy the friendship of foreign governments to the advantage of American businessmen. Mostly it is used to oppress the people of that country.
    American bases. Used to advertise the American presence and reward the local business.
    Foreign bases. Used to advertise the American presence and reward the local business.
    Arms manufacture. Used to create profits for businessmen.
    Etc. Etc. Etc.
    All of the profit making aspects of the military come from the active military. Veterans are the left over, worn out and useless remnants who's only value is in media stories and charities.
    Mostly the Medical industry has be left out of the military gravy train but if they can take over the veterans medical ....

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2014 4:19 p.m.

    2 Bits:

    I was not then and am not now a fan of Jimmy Carter, but at least he did not exacerbate the problems with the VA by entering into massive military actions that created hundreds of thousands of wounded vets, like Bush did. I never said that the sole reason the VA has problems is because of war casualties, but you have to admit that whatever other problems it has, adding that many wounded warriors puts a strain on the system.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2014 3:19 p.m.

    "who do you blame for the problems the VA had in the 1980's??? They were the same problems. "

    I don't think it's an administration specific issue either then or now. I think the problem is something more fundamental. The longest wars in American history are Afghanistan and Vietnam. There's a massive spike in people needing veterans care after we've gone through something that created a lot more veterans needing care. We have been unable to factor in wars into the VA funding equation and seem to be woefully short.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2014 3:16 p.m.

    @The Real Maverick
    "We could have funded the VA for centuries with the money wasted on Bush's 2 wars, tax breaks for the wealthy, and bank bailouts."

    Or we could just reduce the need for more funding for the VA by just not galivanting around the Middle East for a dozen years with the side effect of making more veterans who need care.

  • Grover Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    A letter from a vet who knows about the problem and blames no one turns into a slugfest of finger pointing about who is to blame. That game is much easier than fixing the problem i.e. giving them more resources (read: taxes) to fix the problem. Ok, let's see how many are ready to pay the bill rather than blow hot air about a real problem.

    PS. How about selling those ribbons everyone had 10 or 12 years ago that said: "Support our Troops"? Now they could say: "Raise My Taxes To Support Our Troops!"

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 11, 2014 1:45 p.m.


    So.. who do you blame for the problems the VA had in the 1980's??? They were the same problems. And Bush wasn't around to blame back then!

    Did you blame Carter??? He was President then!

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    June 11, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    What I wonder is why do we still have VA hospitals? Couldn't the same thing be done at the local hospitals? I could understand the need 20 years ago or more when electronic records were not available, but what is the point of the VA hospitals now?

    I can go to the UofU hospital and get the same treatments and care that are available at the VA hospital that is a mile away.

    Rather than throwing more money at the VA system, why not convert to a system that pays for private insurance for the veterans?

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2014 1:29 p.m.

    2 Bits:

    As reported by the International Business Times in November, 2013:

    "All that can be said with any certainty is that as of last December more than 900,000 service men and women had been treated at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics since returning from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the monthly rate of new patients to these facilities as of the end of 2012 was around 10,000."

    We may not see so many in UT and AZ VA hospitals, but overall, it is a heavy strain on the VA system, which should not be downplayed as you have done.

    And yes, I do lay blame for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at the feet of the Bush administration.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 11, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    Most of the patients at VA hospitals (at least in Utah and Arizona) are not Afganistan Vets. They are WWII Vets and Vietnam Vets. And they aren't being treated for bullet holes or traumatic injuries... they are being treated for CPOD, kidney problems, heart problems, Alzheimer's, etc (just like the aging population in any other hospital).

    They do get SOME traumatic injuries from the battlefield... but that's FAR from the majority of the care they provide.

    The VA needs funding increases. But they also need to learn to be more efficient (as ALL Hospitals are having to learn to be more efficient and deliver care in different ways now days).

    You can try to blame it all on Bush... or all on Republicans... but it was a problem even when I was there in the early 80's (when Carter was President). And it will probably ALWAYS be a problem in a system where they deliver care using the model the DMV and other government only distribution systems use (customer doesn't matter, rationing by waiting in lines, and no motivation to improve service... where else they gonna go?).

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2014 12:01 p.m.

    Somehow I doubt the Bush administration acknowledged a need to increase VA funding when it committed us to two wars. It didn't even increase funding to finance the wars themselves, let alone their aftermath. Nor did it foresee the need to increase VA funding just to handle the increasing medical needs of aging veterans from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. And even if Obama had pushed to increase VA funding, it would have been a futile exercise so long as the Republicans could obstruct it. Why are we now surprised that the chickens have come home to roost?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 11, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    Re: "We could have funded the VA for centuries with the money wasted on Bush's 2 wars, tax breaks for the wealthy, and bank bailouts."

    True, but the sums you reference are chump-change, compared to all Democrat tax-and-spend, vote-buying scams.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 11, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    @ Hemlock

    The VA's problem doesn't come from the desire to preserve itself. It comes from a lack of funding. It can't increase prices like oil companies constantly do. It can't cut people or mess with peoples' benefits like insurance companies do. It can't outsource to china like other companies do.

    So when folks from Congress refuse to allocate necessary funds to the VA, people will be hurt.

    We could have funded the VA for centuries with the money wasted on Bush's 2 wars, tax breaks for the wealthy, and bank bailouts.

    Will we the people support more of the same? Or will we vote these obstructionist bums out? Guess we'll find out in November!

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2014 11:04 a.m.

    That is the problem. The VA can deliver satisfactory care but often it does not. From General Motors to the VA, large organizations have the primary objective of preserving themselves. Government, with the civil service guarantees of life time jobs, is particularly prone to under performance. At the VA the best way to get rid of incompetent employees is to recommend they be promoted to another department. That is why the new VA McCain-Sanders bill will allow people to be fired for incompetence.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    June 11, 2014 9:20 a.m.

    But but but...

    The VA is part of der guvmint and needs to be privatized. That's what the Koch bros propaganda and talking box says. And we all know der private sector does everything better! I hate socialism! Now keep your guvmint hands off my Medicare and keep my Social Security checks coming!

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 11, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    The VA has problems no doubt. It always has, and probably always will. Because the problem is that there's large need... and limited resources. So those resources need to be rationed or stretched. It's the same problem any government run healthcare system would have (and does have in other countries that have government run healthcare systems).

    I suspect that people with big problems (like kidney transplants and heart bypasses) get a lot of attention (they have to... or they would die). But the people who fall between the cracks are the people with NON-life-threatening problems (depression, minor illnesses, substance abuse problems, family problems, PTSD, etc)... can wait... and they do.

    They wait, and they wait, and they wait....

    And it's reported to be the same in Canada and the UK (from people I know who live there).

    They get excellent care for life threatening stuff... but the mundane stuff... has to wait, and wait and wait...

  • ECR Burke, VA
    June 11, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    Nice letter Rod. I'm glad you're being taken care of by the VA. You deserve it. And I'm certain the majority of those who work for the VA are dedicated to serving as many as they can. Letters like yours are the start of a process to better support the organization and the people who work there. Thanks for writing.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    June 11, 2014 8:24 a.m.

    I haven't heard of any one in the VA hospital getting any boniness like the Freddy May Freddy Mac for doing a good job. Wow, weight a minute didn't that Government program crash the economy.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 11, 2014 7:25 a.m.

    The problems with the VA are the same problems faced by every government program that takes away the opportunity for private enterprise to profit from peoples needs.

    If the VA services for veterans are shifted to private enterprise the cost to the veteran or the taxpayer will increase tenfold.

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    June 11, 2014 6:47 a.m.

    Recently, republicans demanded for the head of the VA to be held accountable and fired.

    So doesn't it make sense to hold those in the House who refuse to finance the VA accountable too? They've been trying to privatize it for years by underfunding it. Now, we have reports that many good men have died due to the republicans' games.

    Can we finally fire folks like Chaffetz? He needs to be held accountable for cutting embassy funding and bragging about it. And cutting VA funding. He can't keep cutting vital government services which oftentimes leads to destruction for many Americans and still have a job.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 11, 2014 12:01 a.m.

    The problems with the VA are based on lack of access. Those who get care like it. We need more doctors and nurses for the VA and that's going to require more funding.