PRIVATIZATION OF THE VA HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
By Glenn Towery
I have been involved in the fight against Privatization of the VA Healthcare system for many months. As a matter of opinion, I feel that it would be a travesty and a shame to get rid of the present system that has been in existence for veterans for many years because private industry wants to make a dime on veteran’s healthcare.
Although the VA Hospital and medical system has had its problems, all of the problems the system has experienced can be fixed. Privatization presents many issues for veterans, that in my opinion, are not in the best interest of veterans. Under a privatized system that does not take into account veteran/military culture, veterans would become less comfortable in participating because when veterans visit a VA facility they know that they are at a place that has genuinely studied the problems that plague veterans both mentally and physically. The doctors at a VA system are trained specifically to handle veterans and their concerns. In this climate, veterans are receiving “specialized treatment” in that they are being treated like men and women who have served in the nation’s military. Veterans know that the men and women who are at the VA hospital or VA medical facilities they are visiting have also served. There is a level of pride and camaraderie that could never be re-created at a privatized location where the emphasis is on patient care that does not specialize in veterans. VA hospitals sends a message and a promise to veterans that their service will be cherished and honored as men and women who have volunteered to put themselves in harms way for the benefit of preserving and protecting America’s freedom.
When Donald Trump makes his selection of the new Secretary of the VA, Mr. Trump should take into account that the VA has served at the forefront of treatment of traumatic injuries like gunshot wounds, burns and Traumatic Brain Injury that has not only served veterans, but all Americans who have found themselves in need of these services. The VA has become a teaching hospital for many medical universities and colleges who want to train the best new doctors, nurses and other essential highly skilled medical personnel. They send their students to train at the VA because they want them to learn the best techniques and medical practices for Americans who may require their services.
Presently, there are nearly 22 million veterans in America who when they were in the military received specialized treatment at military facilities. It is much easier to continue the same concept of treatment once they are discharged and returned to civilians at VA-run hospitals. Without having VA hospitals and VA research, veterans would find a longer more daunting road to recovery and wellness. There is no doubt that despite the inherent problems of the VA, their hearts are in the right place. The onus is not on profit, but wellness, and their concern for veterans is aimed at understanding and finding ways to treat and cure the many ailments that are plaguing our veterans today.
There is also a mental, emotional and psychological problem that affects veterans disproportionately more than many others in America. The research and studies to cure Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) would not have occurred to the extent that they have without dedicated VA medical staff with a consciousness dedicated to consistent research and treatment of these injuries and ailments.
Earlier this year, I was called and asked to do a news report on VA Privatization in Dallas, Texas. I spent the day video recording statements from retired generals, colonels and other veterans who talked about the perils of privatization of the VA. At the end of the day, I was given an impressive tour of the Dallas VA hospital by VA personnel. The area that impressed me the most was the area where they treat TBI. The chief physician of the department gave us a personal tour and explained the fantastic program in place to treat these traumatic brain injuries. I don’t believe any civilian medical center could equal the care that I saw there.
Please ask your readers to ask Donald Trump not to dismantle the VA hospital system. Go tour facilities like the Dallas VA and talk to veterans who are being treated for service and non-service related illnesses. The VA is an operation that is salvageable. Once we work out the kinks, it will continue to serve our nation’s veterans and meet their specialized needs.
Below are videos that I produced by the VSPChannel on the subject of privatization of the VA Healthcare system. All of the interviewees are veterans, with the exception of Charlyn Johns, who has her own nonprofit veterans organization. You will discover that many of the videos have both full Interviews and 30-second video versions. Feel free to utilize them for your article.
Glenn Towery, 100% Disabled Service Connected
Vietnam Combat Veteran
Chairman & Founder Veterans Suicide Prevention Channel