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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.

The Flying Greek

Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid