VA Nightmares and Real Resources of Hope for Veterans- Part 1, by Informed Consent

In honor of Memorial Day, I thought it fitting to expose the broken Veterans Administration (VA) system to those who are not aware. This is not a sob story or victim card lecture. It is simply sharing the reality of the current VA system and the consequences of such on real lives. Most veterans will have no problem accepting the premise of this paper. However, some still believe that the VA is the ultimate savior, when it comes to their failing health. Oh, and the VA money, well, that money seems to come with strings attached, doesn’t it? “Nothing is free,” as the old-fashioned saying goes. Bottom line, a veteran is faced with two choices; do what the VA says and your monthly disability check will be left unscathed, or disobey the VA and risk losing your benefits. In other words, follow our rules and live or disobey and die.

Don’t Need More Money

Veterans don’t need any more money! You could throw a million dollars at a dying Ft. McClellan veteran, and it wouldn’t change a thing for him. The government has already made its conclusions about Ft. McClellan veterans and others exposed to toxic substances elsewhere. Passing a bill in Congress will not save one single veteran’s life. On a side note, Monsanto has absolutely no interest in helping the veterans who served at Ft. McClellan. In fact, the organization has been working fervently to do the exact opposite. So, for those of you waiting for your government/Monsanto lottery ticket to pay out, take a seat and a number; it’s going to be a while.

More Life, Not More Death

Let’s be clear. Veterans want more life, not more death! They want their health back, and what a sick veteran truly needs is evidence-based healing (without long-term side effects) and a good dose of hope.

Truths Wrought with Howevers

It is true that there are many good and honest employees in the VA system. However, I have yet to meet one. It is true that the VA system is going through a major overhaul, and there is a new emphasis on accountability. However, this renovation is likely years in the making. It is true that some veterans have other options, like the “Veteran’s Choice Program” and “VA Foster Care.” However, the bureaucracy is alive and well, and most veterans I know have given up calling, filling out paperwork, and waiting for things to change.

It is true that the VA can help you in times of emergency medical need. However, there is a widely known rumor that one does not go to the VA to get well but instead to die. These are harsh words, yes. But for those who have experienced these “truths” first-hand, I suspect there will be a lot of affirming nods here when reading the accompanying “howevers”. It seems the truths are wrought with “howevers”.

The VA Knows Not Love

This is a broad generalization, but the VA system seems to know not love. How about this for a run-on sentence:

A system that requires the nurse to put on a glove to hold a severely dehydrated cancer patient’s hand or a system that repeatedly ask a patient who is not suicidal if he is suicidal (out of an obsession to avoid any liability); a system that (for years) fails to recognize the suffering and deaths of Ft. McClellan veterans struggling with complex, confusing illnesses and diseases; a system that inevitably forces veterans to pay for and seek outside care due to inept and overwhelmed VA providers (often too busy with bureaucratic paperwork and disinterested in the facts to really help) is a system that knows not love!

Share Your VA Nightmares Publicly (Don’t Fear Reprisal)

Have you had a VA nightmare experience? Feel free to share in the comments, as it is a powerful way for veterans and their families to actively expose the reality of such a broken system. First, it is a way to warn other veterans who may still believe that the VA really cares about them and is a safe, holistic place to get care. Second, it might be the only way to put down, for the record, the reality of a system void of compassion, void of excellence in medical care, and void of logic.

Are you afraid to speak out against the VA? For instance, have you been threatened that your disability pay will be cut off if you do not comply with specific orders? Have you been defamed, harassed, humiliated, sexually assaulted, or verbally abused (especially Ft. McClellan veterans who are chronically ill)? Has your character been slandered or worse, have you been falsely diagnosed with a mental disorder or anxiety and unable to set the record straight in your medical file? Has the VA resorted to assaulting you with surprise phone interviews from patient representatives who cannot identify themselves or sicced paid VA psychos (psychiatrist/psychologist) to interrogate you, whose sole purpose is to cover their own liability or pump you full of lies, SSRIs, et cetera to distract you from real chronic pain or debilitating illness?

The VA is Ruled by Fear

Do Not Fear! The worst thing you can do is to buckle under the pressure and give in to their demands. You must stand up for yourself! This is especially true, if you know that the VA employees are manipulating or harassing you out of their own sense of fear.

You heard that right! The VA is rules by fear. Thus, the system is operating illogically and without a sense of compassion. Like the so-called shortage in saline around the country2, there seems a serious shortage in expert, direct primary care for those who have served their country honorably and are hurting. How backwards is that?

The VA is terrified and paralyzed by the “L word”– liability. In fact, liability is likely to take precedence over compassionate care, and it motivates many in leadership these days. Imagine the fear that providers succumb to when harassing a veteran repeatedly simply in order to alleviate their own doubts or document for their own protection that the patient has absolutely no suicidal thoughts before sending them home. If a patient adamantly confirms their positive zest for life and genuine love and respect for their own body, professing repeatedly that they only want to live and continue living in health, isn’t that enough? Imagine the fear that a provider succumbs to when they commit the most egregious assault on a veteran by falsely diagnosing someone who is legitimately ill with a mental disorder?

Resort To the Mental Card Out of Cowardice

I think it is possible that doctors who find themselves unable to fix or cure a veteran will resort to the mental card out of cowardice, not care. For instance, a soldier who has been diagnosed with cancer, outside the VA, and shares this information with a VA provider is then labeled as incompetent, most likely out of an unethical effort to cover the VA’s liability. What kind of system does this? A system that knows not love!

I’m Not a Veteran, Why Should I Care?

Many may say, “So what? I’m not a veteran. Why should I care?”

Did you enjoy your Memorial Day celebrations? Do you know a veteran or have a friend or relative who is suffering from exposures, injuries, or illnesses as a result of their honorable service? Do you care about them? If you care about one veteran, you might want to consider caring about others. Most former service members are average, hard-working, moral, America-loving citizens who don’t ask for much, obey the laws, and love their families and neighbors. The anomalies are not worth mentioning. Certainly, not all veterans are war “heroes”. Some never went to war, and there is nothing shameful about that. Still, some were terrible soldiers to begin with (malingerers and inept at their jobs), and others selfishly turn into terrible veterans (abusing the VA system and manipulating VA providers with their greedy motives). However, as previously stated, the bad apples are not the focus here.

VA Known To Discredit and Dehumanize Veterans

Unfortunately, the VA has been known to discredit and dehumanize particular veterans (whistleblowers, Ft. McClellan veterans et cetera) with its overbearing claims process and unethical use of psychological methods. It might surprise the readers here that most veterans, unlike the pervading myth pushed by the media, do not suffer from PTSD, depression, or mental disorders. On the contrary, every veteran I know personally handles their normal daily stresses of life or chronic illness/pain with unusual resilience and composure.

In fact, most veterans are simply content to be left alone, able to work, and enjoy their weekends off without being called back in at 4am. We are of a certain caliber, after all. We possess an unusual, innate, intestinal fortitude that is rare in today’s civilian world. It is why we chose to volunteer and why we continue to keep our mouth shut rather than complain. Nonetheless, just for the record again, not all veterans suffer PTSD, and not all veterans need psychological services.

Some Refuse to Register with VA Out of Sense of Honor and Pride

In fact, there are some veterans that I know, personally, who refuse to register with the VA out of a deep sense of honor and pride. They don’t want to take from the veterans who truly need help, and they have a deep sense of dignity and selflessness. Some veterans have even refused benefits that they truly deserve. I admire that grit and knew such a man. He spent three years in Africa during World War II and never set foot in the VA. Even when suffering through prostate cancer and various illnesses and injuries, he never used the VA services. Also, if my memory serves right, his wife never received any benefits after his death. Perhaps he was too proud or perhaps he was wise enough to avoid a system that he knew could not love or respect him as a true war hero.

Many of our greatest veterans continue to avoid the VA like the plague for this very reason. This is a phenomenon widely known among veterans but dismissed by the VA system. Again, the rumor goes “You go to the VA to die.”

Tomorrow, we’ll continue with more information and links to resources as well as alternatives to the VA system.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
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  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. I have been going to the Fayetteville, Arkansas VA for more than 35 years. I have had several surgeries both at the VA and the local hospital. I also know many other veterans who go there, and work there. This must be the ONLY good VA Hospital in the ENTIRE U.S. !

    1. Well, the VA system in Georgia is nothing like this writer describes. As a 70 year old Vietnam Vet I have been involved with the VA for decades. Not once have I encountered a caregiver with a bad attitude. Yes, they are bogged down in paperwork and procedures as a result of being run by the government. And, yes they have a huge caseload which puts a strain on resources. But the people working there are kind and dedicated, and don’t deserve the harsh criticisms from this writer. They truly care for vets and do the best they can to help us, within the system. I’m sorry the writer’s experience has been so poor, but it’s not the fault of the VA workers. Attitude means a lot…how much of that negativity is coming from inside? Semper Fi

  2. I can speak well for the VA Medical center in Gainesville Florida as well. I was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, and they’ve kept me alive and as happy as it’s possible to be ever since. The medical staff is excellent, there’s a major civilian hospital and a University college of medicine right across the street they consult with regularly. The admin side of the house is no more clueless than any other bureaucracy, and I’ve never seen any active malevolence from them.

  3. I see Vets daily as a Home Health RN. I am very discouraged how the VA system treats the Vets. There is no compassion, no caring, no love, no dignity. Author is spot on about the Mental Health Card. As a side note, I too, am a Vet. I will never ever step into that system.

    1. Greetings Mike Huster!
      Thank you for your work genuinely caring for Veterans!

      “There is no compassion, no caring, no love, no dignity. Author is spot on about the Mental Health Card.”

      An “RN” who knows the system and is also a “Veteran” not afraid to speak truth. Unfortunately, several other comments so far here do not take into account that there is a core issue that transcends individual, positive experiences.

      Also, it is would be helpful if someone with access to stats could share the numbers of new, younger generations of Veterans who are turning away from the “system.” This would be an easy rebuttal to the older generations who have been pleased with the “system” and find no fault.

      The VA is not for every Veteran!

      1. I am an honorably discharged former sailor. The VA medical system has absolutely nothing I want or need.

        My heart goes out to those of my fellow veterans who have been harmed and/or abused by the system.

  4. I am a vet that has gone to the Albuquerque VA Medical Center and have had the best care ever, I have gone to private sector hospitals and spent hours in those ER’s they don’t care if I am a vet no, all they care about is where do they send the bill, I don’t agree with all of the points made by the writer of the story as he paints all VA’s employees with a derogatory remark that “if there are good employees at the VA he hasn’t met one” ? Really who died and made him God, I also appalled that SurvivalBlog an organization that I look up to and support, albeit with only what I can afford, would allow some, pissed off person rail against an institution that has saved my life more than once. So sad to see how this person has allowed his beliefs to dictate to others what and how to think. Well I have to say to him/her and others with those types of negative and degrading messages, there are two sides to ALL stories and yours isn’t the only one. There are many veterans in my personal family and while at the VA meeting with other veterans and at a local veteran organization, that I will not mention because I am not authorized to speak for them, I have met veterans that don’t know they are entitled to services until it’s too late and they are at stage four for many illnesses, the real solution to the care for veterans in today’s world is to stop blaming others for everything that did and has gone wrong and teach veterans how to take control of their destiny when it comes to their healthcare, knowledge is power and that can only be effective if it is obtained, put into use, define the objective and complete the mission, just like we were taught to do in the military. Life may be different in the civilian world but not impossible, we have the advantage, use it!

  5. I am dismayed by this article. I have family members and know other friends who have had good experiences in VA care and medical facilities…nothing but compliments. Even in private care there can be long waits for your appointment, but the medical care itself was not criticized. Regarding PTSD: A term that is overused. Today, even a soccer mom who’s van hits a stray dog on the way to taking the kids to school suffers “PTSD”….an emotionally traumatic event. Almost step on a snake? PTSD! Receive a hurtful text message? PTSD. It’s the cultural process of emotionally maximizing a minimal experience. I’m NOT making light of true PTSD, but indicating that as a generalized society, so sensitive and easily offended, that mental / physical strength and resilience are becoming rare. Thank GOD for our veterans!

  6. I personally take exception to the OP’s article. I retired from the VA (radiology) 12 years ago and all though no hospital is perfect including the one’s in the private sector, I did take excellent care of patients (not bragging just stating a fact). I could have worked in the private sector, which I did for 8 years before going to the VA. But, I chose to take care of vet’s who served in the protection of our country and I made less salary than in the private sector but I felt it was my duty to help our vets. Yes the VA has problems with some employees and what job doesn’t? The hospital I worked at is in the top 5 rated VA’s in the nation even years ago, and I am proud to say, I helped the hospital to achieve that rating.

  7. Don’t know where you’re getting your veterans health services done but I would suggest you move. Dealing now with agent orange related issues and have had nothing but the best care at both Seattle and Spokane VA hospitals. The employees are some of the most compassionate people you could meet. A lot has to do with your attitude.

  8. I think the author misses the point when he believes that the VA’s intention when continually pounding away at the “suicide” issue is “JUST” an attempt to cover their A–… IMHO I think it is an action to keep as many veterans as possible away from the ability to purchase arms or get a concealed carry permit. With current, and new laws coming into effect, any inference to mental instability, including thoughts of suicide, preclude you from the protection of the 2nd Amendment. What better way is there to keep arms out of the hands of those who are the most adept at using them?

  9. A lot of the hype about exposure to “toxins” is just that, hype. There is big bucks in this. Law firms dedicated to exploiting the claims that this or that “might” cause cancer. And sure enough since a certain percentage of people do indeed get cancer when it happens to someone who even walked past a place where one of these “toxins” was stored is convinced that it was that toxin that caused his health problems. Statistically if a specific toxin caused cancer there would be a significant increase in that disease in those who were exposed AND that increase would be even greater for those with more exposure. Most if not all of these scare “toxins” fail this test. BUT that doesn’t matter because there is still money in it and authors and lawyers keep the hype going and make no mistake when you get sick you will indeed believe it was something you were exposed to while in Vietnam or someplace BECAUSE, that’s what people told you. Why wouldn’t you believe that? Why would you instead believe the more logical and truthful fact that humans as they age are more susceptible to diseases of old age and it is simply bad luck not the nefarious Army or Navy that caused your cancer.

    1. Anon: It’s not BS, it’s a fact. Do you actually know anyone suffering from exposure to the defoliants used in Viet Nam? I do. It’s not pretty , or psychosomatic – and it’s documented from the early 70s until now.

      For Informed Consent: You paint the whole system with your diatribe. We here, on this site, try to not go rushing off to deliver generalizations and stereotypes. Maybe you could have submitted your rant to the NY Times or CNN. Oh, but they don’t offer prizes.

      My experience with the VA system in Dallas had both good and bad points – the facility was old and in desperate need of updating, and some of the staff was like you described. By far, though, most of us cared about the veterans we served and did everything we could to provide quality care. Our goal was to treat each and every veteran as if they were paying with a gold card, because they already had paid dearly in advance.

      I really don’t see the point of wasting the time to read Part 2 of your writings. They have no place on this site, and do absolutely nothing to promote the things we value.

      Hugh, I hope you can forego posting the rest of this author’s tripe. SurvivalBlog is not the forum for him to sharpen his axe.

      1. There was a massive independent study of Vietnam veterans who could have been exposed to agent orange. They expected to find higher rates of cancer and other illnesses but found nothing. Without the increased rate of disease the link to agent orange simply isn’t there. Later on because of lobbying by veterans and families congress simply caved to allow any illness by a Vietnam vet to be attributed to agent orange so that the VA could treat it. I don’t really have a problem with that. But the simple fact is whatever your friends are suffering from was not caused by agent orange. It is a sad fact of life that as we age we get serious diseases including cancers. It is natural and understandable for people who this happens to, to search for answers something to blame. But it is simply old age.

        1. Anon: That’s BS. These veterans know they were exposed, my cousin was soaked in the stuff more than once while serving in the jungles. His health became a problem soon after he finished his “service” – yeah, he didn’t have a choice about whether to serve or hide in college. His family history has no health problems except for him, and his are extremely painful, disfiguring and appear randomly. Don’t try to lecture me or anyone about this being a result of old age, my cousin’s health problems started while he was still in his mid-twenties. I question the “independence” of the study you mention.

          1. People get sick. When it happens you want there to be a reason not just bad luck or your genes. But if it were from agent orange then a lot of people who worked with agent orange would have similar problems. And by “a lot” I mean well above the statistical norm or people simply becoming ill who were not exposed to agent orange. There simply is no statistical increase in any disease that can be attributed to agent orange.

            But the point still remains that congress decided to ignore the facts and allow any veteran, even those who did not serve in Vietnam, to claim their illness is from exposure to agent orange and they will treat them at the VA. So it is inexplicable why that wouldn’t at least give you some satisfaction.

      2. I believe the author’s subject matter to be valid. You seem cognizant of what’s being discussed. I challenge you to open your mind a bit more concerning these and other issues which we all face.

  10. First of all, never try to improve a process that should not be done in the first place. The vast majority of veterans needing critical care should never have needed it in the first place.

    When this old coot hears the word ‘veterans’, I see two groups: Those serving in Vietnam and before, and those serving post-Vietnam. I respect and am grateful for those in the first group. The latter group should have known that they were mere mercenaries. They fight not to protect their homeland but for government needs, for money (US military offers the best pay and benefits for today’s high school graduates). And of course soldiers fight for their brothers-in-arms; a fact too often idolized.

    The best way to honor veterans and Memorial Day is to stop perpetual war and BRING THE TROOPS HOME!

    1. “this old coot” Roger D – bold words indeed!

      I think most could relate to your impassioned plea for peace. Were you in Vietnam, if I may intrusively inquire?

      1. Part of the latter group – how dare you, old coot – all soldiers get used by the government to push their agenda, and not necessarily moral ones. Our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, had the same “fight it there rather than here” genesis, as far as the public face. What makes Vietnam any more moral that Iraq in terms of sacrificing troops for some imagined “good?” All wars fought since the 60’s haven’t been waged to win, they’ve been waged to profit someone.

  11. My dad is a WW2 vet and has used the VA since the late 70s or so. They have always done a good job taking care of him and treat him with dignity.

  12. Appreciate all the thoughtful critique here! Thank you for all of your comments. Perhaps, I will have time later to respond to more individually.

    In the meantime, it seems that some comments were not reflective of the main premise and instead attacked the author personally with accusations that are not true.

    I hope others will respond to the most negative comments with their personal accounts as I tend not to engage when people do not read my words carefully and instead resort to personal attacks.

    Those who have suffered at the hands of the VA will be the most empathetic here, others may never understand which is the most unfortunate thing.

    For the record…it is possible to critique a mega “system” without being a pessimist or having a negative, victimized attitude. It requires that one does not resort to emotional victimhood to truly change a broken system.

    Many have said it true – attitude matters!

  13. Not so fast…

    I appreciate the boldness of this article. The writer is not saying there are not good people in the system. Some are getting good care. I am a recent veteran. It took the VA over two years to get my first evaluation appointment for my claims, back, knees, shoulders…etc. It was not my fault. I started the process before I ETSed. Now within the system, I do not trust it! They are not thorough and are very closed minded to holistic and alternative treatments. I am living proof that alternative treatments in-fact work.

  14. I can personally attest to the incompetence of the VA health system. I’ve been dealing with them and my combat (service connected) injuries for 9 years. I’ve -so called- slipped through the cracks on more than one occasion. For all of you veterans on here that have NEVER had to experience a case of their incompetence in the years of you dealing with them, are either full of dung or too ignorant to realize what incompetent health care is. I know 100’s of veterans that have dealt with similar red tape and total disregard for their well-being that I have. I will definitely say that is the norm and not the exception to the rule. Quick examples: Throw medications at the problems to fix them. Wait 4 years on an MRI to be approved. Wait 7 years on an appeal to have them remand their decision for the correct evidence from their own doctors. Still waiting -going on 8 more months- for VA ruling from expedited system review 7 year appeal. Wait 2 months for prescription glasses. Wait over a year for medical procedures to be approved on one occasion and 7 months on another for one to never get approved due to “slipping through the cracks”. Have to drive one and a half hours to VA emergency room or risk not being covered or pay out of pocket for service connected ER visit. After 5 year wait on appeal to get to video review board, VA judge tells me “Sorry, seemed to have slipped through the cracks. Should have not taken over 3 years for video board.” And that’s not the half of it, ladies and gentlemen. I guess the positive thing has been I haven’t had to come up with too much money out of pocket for that kind of health care. Only had to pay in blood and soul for eleven and a half years prior to it.

    1. AJW,


      My pure intention is that truths like yours will somehow find the right desk and the reality of your situation is finally dealt with (man-to-man style). In no way did I read complainer, malingerer, or mental case into your words. Rather, you have a powerful personal testimony that matters!

  15. my stepfather was a WW2 vet and alcoholic. When his liver went in his late thirties and he was home throwing up coffee grounds he went to the VA at the old Biltmore hotel in Coral Gables in Miami and was in intensive care for weeks. they saved his life. he never touched another drop of alcohol.

  16. The VA is not perfect but thank God they are there for us. Overall the VA has taken very good care of me, my father, and mother. The VA has gone to great lengths to take care of and address my medical issues. They provided a beautiful and honorable funeral and burial service for both my mother and father who now rest in peace with MANY other past veterans in a veterans cemetery in Virginia . They take very good care of my neighbor who is a WWII POW. Veterans MUST understand that the VA services is NOT mana that falls from the sky from Heaven into their lap but each veteran MUST make a good faith effort to meet them half way with respect to due diligence. Many of the VA employees are veterans as well. My nor my family’s experience has been NOTHING like the writer’s experience. I hope and pray that the writer’s experiences change for the better in the future.

  17. I have been in the VA health system for more than 30 years. Through Cancer, Heart attack, and all the other things that affect this 73 year old veterans body. I have received far better care than my civilian friends under Obama care and Medicare. I would not trade the VA for any other medical care provider.

  18. Some seem to have forgot how in some VA centers, they had lists of vets to put on “hold” for appointments, in order to up the chances of the vet dying before treatment got started, and thereby saving money, and showing they were doing “something”. Although I didn’t hear of it in St. Louis, they were famous on Cochran Ave. for making a hundred or so vets wait at sick call from 8am to 4 pm and then someone would come out and announce sick call was over, there are no doctors available today. I was there for two of those times myself. I left the VA that year, although I am supposed to be priority, and I’ve been denied any care at all in Texas, for reasons not specified. It is an atrocious bureaucracy, and ought to be turned into private care. I personally have seen friends die at the VA because it was so dirty. Please don’t lecture me about attitude. I do as well as I am received.

  19. My experiences at the Montgomery, Al. VA Hospital were a nightmare. Bureaucracy is their middle name. No one hint of compassion or competence. Had a much better experience at the Johnson City VA after moving their. VA hospitals are hit and miss- all depends on funding and the politicians lobbying for their home towns.

  20. My experiences at the Montgomery, Al. VA Hospital were a nightmare. Bureaucracy is their middle name. No one hint of compassion or competence. Had a much better experience at the Johnson City VA after moving their. VA hospitals are hit and miss- all depends on funding and the politicians lobbying for their home towns.

  21. I’m glad some veterans receive good care at the VA. There are good things about the system and it can be a lifesaver in a pinch, but it is severely lacking in many manners.

    I injured my hip and back and foot on an airborne jump and have been in the VA system for more than 20 years. I live in chronic pain that provides many sleepless nights and keeps me from doing simple work around the house, not to mention the ability to carry my 8 month old son.

    The VA has done almost nothing and I have repeatedly been treated as a burden rather than a patient, been met with apathy and incompetence rather than than diagnosis. They even now refuse to give out pain meds even though they tell me “there’s nothing we can do, you just have to live with the pain.” So why not at least meds? “We don’t give pain meds to patients with chronic pain” After I collapsed while carrying my infant upstairs and begged for some pain meds, my primary doctor told me it “sounds like an issue for your mental health therapist. ”

    That is the VA for most of us.

    1. Jack,
      It hurts to read your story. Some landings are better than others eh?

      Do not lose hope and please hold on for the second part of this article. The second half is meant to offer some real hope and tangible alternatives for situations like yours. I do hope you come back tomorrow and comment, especially if the readers respond as requested and flood the comments with positive, life-giving, resources that truly help.

  22. I wholly side with the author. I had my GI tract destroyed during deployment, as well as coming back with a dozen heavy metals from the burn pit smoke blowing across camp each nite. I was told that “everyone gets some toxic metals (cadmium, arsenic, nickel, mercury, etc.) – it’s no big deal!” This from the MD who sexually molested me. I now have antibodies to gluten, millet, and caseins (milk), cannot eat any soy, hydrogenated oils. My body does not absorb magnesium through my GI tract so I have to take it from skin absorption. Because these maladies are not muscle/skeletal in nature, the VA refuses to acknowledge them/pay for them/treat them. I had the comp & pen RN leave out 50% of what I told her resulting in a reduction in my disability pension of 40%. The first time I walked into the VA they handed me a quart medicine bottle of psychotropic pills. I have had contact with individuals at the VA that are there for the right reasons – to serve veterans. Overall, however, it is a giant crawdad – “how can we welsh out on the blank check we agreed to in caring for this Soldier when he raised his right hand and signed a blank check of service to his nation.

  23. Why can’t veterans simply walk into any medical facility in the country and receive care. These facilities would simply send the bill to the VA that would then become nothing more than a claims processor like insurance companies.

    Anyway, it’ll never happen, because gubmint.

    1. That’s a valid question, Fred. Why, indeed? Every other gubmint medical agency can do exactly that for people why not the VA? Summer in the Redoubt is the beginning of the annual pilgrimage of natives travelling all over the area and they are seen in any ER for the most ridiculous of complaints – without charge.

  24. I’m sure the author’s characterizations of the VA apply to some portion of hospitals and facilities in the VA, but they are not accurate for the whole VA. I am surrounded at work by Veterans who use the VA healthcare system in MD (at least 4 within 25′ of my desk at work with more farther away). The guy next to me is recovering from major back surgery. They share stories about different facilities. They know which facilities to visit for which health problems. They talk about the new programs that enable access to private sector facilities and doctors. Water cooler discussions suggest the veterans I work with like the VA system, work inside the system, don’t want to lose the government run VA centers but also like the options for using private sector providers. The emphasis on suicide prevention is easy to explain. Go research. In 2014 veterans committed around 18% of the suicides in America while comprising 9% of the population. Veterans are proud and frequently don’t want to ask for or admit they would benefit from help. Each Veteran suicide is a small failure for the system and the Country. The emphasis on suicide prevention even extends into the DoD active duty and civilian ranks. I’m quite happy the VA is trying to make sure those that need help receive the help they need.

  25. As a veteran I use the VA system in my personal experience has been good. However I know veterans who are struggling to get care from the system. I believe that it depends highly on the VA that you go to of what kind of care you’ll get. And I do understand that there is a core problem with the entire system the system is broken. I don’t know that it will ever get fixed. we can only pray that it will for those who need it and earned it

  26. My father was on the ‘secret’ list at the Phoenix AZ VA hospital. They did their best to kill him through neglect. I was getting medicines online and overseas because the VA would never provide him with the drugs he needed (lots of promises, though). When he went into their hospital for an infection, they kept me from bringing him insulin and had his blood sugar above 300 for days, which finally did him in. No love for the VA here.

  27. I think the author has his facts confused. I am a 66 year old Army vet who has been treated for broken bones, cancer, gout, diabetes, pituitary adenoma, ruptured appendix, deviated septums, cataracts, and numerous other illnesses. I have received top notch care from caring physicians and nurses.

    Perhaps there are bad caregivers and administrators, but one can’t paint with a broad brush and be accurate and objective.


  28. My Dad had horrible experiences at the VA in Montgomery, AL and stopped trying. We moved him out to AZ. I took him to the VA in Tucson and they got him fixed up. The people were wonderful and caring. He was reevaluated for his 100% disability including PTSD from 4 years in the Infantry in WWII. I do understand the author re: Ft McClellan. I have had years of bizarre symptoms and illnesses and only recently have read about others also stationed there with similar and worse symptoms. I spent 5 months there as a WAC in the early 1970’s, and my litany of symptoms started about a year after. I was healthy as a horse before then. I have not gone to the VA in Tucson for my own issues, and am waiting for the syndrome to be validated. Remeber the shabby treatment so many Vietnam Vets got re: Agent Orange? The gov plays the waiting game, hoping most will die off, then they acknowledge and treat the few remainders.

  29. WOW!! This has really been interesting….I’m a Viet Nam Vet, 71 years young, and have never been to the VA. In fact I would never go there….but… the dichotomy of the responses is amazing.I wounder if there might be a way that there could be a rating system set up, so that those that would like to determine the quality of any given VA hospital could, at least, get a feeling of what to expect. The comments by some respondents, that there are certain facilities that are better than others for a given treatment is very interesting. Has anyone got any ideas how something like this may come to pass?

  30. I’ve been going to the Spokane VA since 2002 and have had all my needs addressed, they always do what is needed to get my health in good shape. I couldn’t ask for a better health care for me anyway have a good doctors and nurses that care for me and keep me in good health.

  31. I have only one living friend that was in Vietnam. All the others have passed. What they all have in common is making the best out of life after the horrors that befell them. I side with the author on this one. A new V A Facility in Cols. OH staffed with many “doctors” from out of country that can barely be understood. English skills are obviously not a prereq when selected to treat those that have sacrificed so much. Complications from the toxic herbicides sprayed from above, solutions to ongoing pain treatment, and the list goes on. The prescriptions doled out rarely cure but only mask the physical and psychological pain and trauma. My heart soars like an eagle for those vets that get excellent care. It also bleeds out for the many that are not so fortunate.

  32. I’m Not a Veteran, Why Should I Care?

    Many may say, “So what? I’m not a veteran. Why should I care?”
    Because this is what you’ll wind up with if you allow the Government control.

    However if you start the emails, letters, and calls to your rep expressing your anger and disgust with the system AND EBBER BOTY does it and keeps doing it , then the model will change.

  33. As a Veteran and a health care professional – what did you expect? Veterans would be better off if the VA System closed and Vet’s were treated by providers of their choice.

    Some are good and many are bad, but they are all suffocating under the inherent weight of federal bureaucracy.

    You need look no further than Medicare and Medicaid, to see other government run disasters! Throw in Obamacare if you like.

  34. Listen brothers and sister veterans. I’m a Vietnam Area Veteran I was station at Camp Lejeune NC from 1972 to 1974. When I left Camp Lejeune NC I was shortly diagnosed with lupus.. In 2015 I became homeless and was help getting an apartment which was great and was hooked up with a Vet Rep the minute I told him I was stationed at Camp Lejeune he informed me that I had been exposed to toxic substances. At that point I started researching I found out the Government knew since 1980 about exposure to toxic substances. And Congress started the ATSDR = Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry in 1980. But what I want to share will all my Brothers and Sister veterans. Is for all of you to look into 35% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide. There’s two books written on the subject ! 1) Miracle Cure written by Kevin Richardson. 2)True Power of Hydrogen Peroxide Miracle Path to Wellness. Here’s the kicker The Government has known about the benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide since the Civil War. One more thing if you all decide to invest in your health remember where ever you purchase 35% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide if the company doesn’t charge you a Hazmat fee your not getting 35% it will be 17% if you are lucky. [Some details removed by editor, for OPSEC.]

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