David Shulkin offers new perspective as head of Veteran’s Affairs

Coming in amongst a midst of prior controversies, Shulkin aims to add reform to the flawed system. Photo Courtesy of NPR.

Rebecca Stahl
Staff Writer

2017 gives veterans across America a glimpse of hope as President Trump’s pick for Secretary of Veteran Affairs is Dr. David J. Shulkin. He is the first person to accept this position who has not been a veteran.

Phillip Carter, an Iraq veteran who studies the agency for the Center for a New American Security stated, “He knows the V.A. but he is not of the V.A.; he comes from the private sector and knows how to blend private and public care.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been functioning for several centuries under three sectors: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

These departments have always served as an establishment to provide and protect the wounded soldiers and their families. The VA was established in 1636 with the best intentions possible, but over the years, the VA has been viewed in the public eye as a corrupt agency.

They have been under examination for years for their reckless practices and for what is considered by many to be inhumane behavior. Their waiting lists and treatment delays has led to a large amount of treatable patient deaths.

The VA had acknowledged the misconducts occurring at the facilitation yet continued to repeat the negligent patterns that were occurring on their grounds.

When approached, the VA continually used a defense plea to justify the mistreatment of patients as well as the malpractices occurring at their facilities. VA medical centers nationwide have made errors in scheduling more than 57,000 former military personnel, and about 64,000 of them were not even on the agency’s electronic waiting list for doctor appointments that they requested.

The VA scandal in Phoenix, Arizona is one of the many corruptions that have faced the VA.

According to azcentral.com, “Acting VA Director Sloan Gibson further verifies wrongdoing uncovered in Phoenix and shows that dysfunctional practices permeate the agency’s medical system and jeopardize health care for 9.3 million enrolled veterans.”

By the end of 2016, the problem with corruption hadn’t gotten any better. The problem had widened and the misconduct had gone further in depth.

USA TODAY found that, “VA employees in 19 states and Puerto Rico routinely ‘zeroed out’ wait times for veterans, concealing the true length of delays.” It was shown that VA officials, themselves, had instructed schedulers to fabricate the wait times at medical facilities.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report that despite the negligence and fraudulence occurring, the VA was finding remedies through a “piecemeal approach.”

The GAO continued to state that the scheduling problems continued to affect the wait-time data. Former VA secretary Robert McDonald said that this issue was relatable to the wait-time in lines at Disney amusement parks.

His cloud in judgement may explain the data released by the VA in June of 2016, which stated, “the number of patients who have waited more than a month to see a doctor exceeded a half a million since the beginning of 2016.”

 

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  • Justavet

    I want to have true choice to either go to the VA or have private care. I am getting too damn old to drive 65 miles each way for specialty care and 40 miles each way to see a primary doctor.

    This past Friday I left my house at 11:30 in the morning for a 1 PM appointment and drove back into my driveway at 3:22. How many civilians would put up with that? (There is a doctor with this specialty literally 2 miles from my house along with a primary care doctor and other specialists).

    I am in my 70’s and live alone. How much longer can I do this (meaning going that far for care)? Or, do I just say the hell with it, sit back and die?