The Wait for a VA Doctor

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memday2Monday is Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor American servicemen and women, to remember servicemen and women who have lost their lives, and to appreciate the sacrifices of both those who serve and their families. This year, the message of Memorial Day shares headlines with an ironic partner: officials working at several Veteran’s Affairs (VA) hospitals across the country are accused of maintaining secret wait lists and manipulating data to hide wait times. Accusations that veterans routinely have to wait months for care is a national disgrace, and the cover-up has become a scandal that dominated news during the past week.memday3

Calls intensified for the Secretary of US Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Eric Shinseki, to resign, and Congressional investigations began.

This week, honor veteran’s by learning more about what is going on, the Department of Veteran’s  Affairs, the services promised to veterans, and some of the unique health concerns that face service men and women.

Backlog and Scandal

memday5As with many scandals, the events unfolded slowly at first. It is only recently that the situation has attracted the persistent attention of the media and investigators. View the USA Today’s timeline and video summary, Timeline: the story behind the scandal.

The scandal began with doctor’s warnings in Phoenix; however, it is not the only VA facility with a backlog nor is it the only one being investigated for a cover-up. Veterans across the country have been affected. This is news, in part because veterans deserve the care they are promised, but also because of the number of people affected. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq mean the number of veterans is higher now. View a map of the veteran population. Scroll over the map to see how many veterans live in your home state and across the country. Then, view a map of the backlog. Click on a map location to meet affected veterans and read more about their experiences with VA health care. Watch the video Veteran’s Disability Delayedand scroll down to see graphics exposing the slowest VA facilities. Read the article, For disabled veterans awaiting benefits decisions, location matters.memday4

In his Memorial Day address, President Obama commented on the health care delay for veteran’s. Listen to his speech. Although President Obama has called for a full investigation and accountability, he so far has not bowed to pressure to press Eric Shinseki for his resignation. Read the Secretary of the VA’s biography.

VA Services

The United States has long been dedicated to supporting the men and women who serve in the military. Read a brief history of the VA. The VA provides a range of benefits. Watch a short video that shares examples of how the VA assists vets. Then click on the circular icons at the top of the page to read summaries of the benefits available.

"Flags In" 2012Among the many programs provided for veterans are a suite of health care programs. Learn more about several of these by clicking the links and reading brief descriptions. To civilians, health care is often limited to the routine--sick visits, annual health care, and dental visits. But veterans often face unique health issues created by their service. Scroll through a list of deployment health issues and deployment exposures to learn more about the medical issues and risks veterans assume.




Newspaper Activities

Do not forget America’s veterans after the weekend of picnics has ended. Follow this developing story in your local newspaper. Track who is investigating, what questions they are asking, and who is testifying. Contact your elected officials and let them know what you think about this issue.

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