News / USA

American Veterans: Culture Change Needed to Fix Broken Health Care System

American Veterans: Culture Change Needed to Fix Broken Health Care Systemi
X
Brian Padden
May 21, 2014 11:23 PM
As Americans commemorate Memorial Day to honor the country's fallen soldiers, a scandal is unfolding that highlights the federal government’s failure to properly care for veterans. As VOA’s Brian Padden reports, fraud and neglect at the Veterans Administration reportedly have forced thousands of veterans to wait months to see a doctor and reportedly even caused some to die because of a lack of treatment.
Brian Padden
As Americans commemorate Memorial Day to honor the country's fallen soldiers, a scandal is unfolding that highlights the federal government’s failure to properly care for veterans. Fraud and neglect at the Veterans Administration reportedly have forced thousands of veterans to wait months to see a doctor and reportedly even caused some to die because of a lack of treatment.

In response to a firestorm of criticism over reports of neglect at veterans hospitals that have even caused preventable deaths, President Barack Obama says he will hold accountable officials involved in any misconduct.  

“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful and I will not tolerate it, period,” said Obama.

Investigation proceeds

Twenty-six veterans facilities are under investigation, including a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, where 40 veterans allegedly died while waiting for treatment. The hospital there is reported to have kept a secret waiting list to hide months-long delays to get care.  

The Veterans Health Administration treats nearly 9 million veterans at 1,700 facilities around the country.  

The system has been overloaded by a growing number of wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking treatment, and new expanded coverage for Vietnam vets and for Post-traumatic stress disorder.  

But the VA’s critics say reports of staff falsifying records to cover up treatment delays are indicative of a system that is both broken and criminal.

Louis Celli, Legislative Director for the American Legion, said the veterans group wants the president to immediately fire Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, who is a disabled veteran, for failing to change the agency’s dysfunctional culture.  
 
“We know that the Department of Veteran Affairs has had a long systemic problem and needed a culture change, and we thought Shinseki was the man to come in and do that, and we’ve since lost our faith in that.”

Congressional oversight

Congress is working on legislation to make it easier to fire poorly performing managers at the VA.

Senator John McCain, a wounded war veteran himself, said veterans deserve better. “We must be worthy of the sacrifices that are made on our behalf. How we care for those who risked everything for us is the most important test of a nation’s character. Today, we are failing that test.”

Pending an investigation, the White House is standing behind the embattled VA secretary for now. Obama has said he wants to focus on making systemic change.

“So today I want every veteran to know we are going to fix whatever is wrong, and so long as I have the privilege of serving as commander-in-chief I am going to keep on fighting to deliver the care and the benefits and the opportunities that your families deserve,” said the president.

On Memorial Day, America commemorates the soldiers who fought and died for their country. But this year many also will be talking about the country’s obligation to care for the veterans who fought and survived.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid