Our Veterans Deserve Better

Posted by Mike Merritt in Society on

Now, I know that not every case is like this, but the fact remains that no veteran coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan should have to fight the Veterans Administration to care for injuries received during their service.

Like this man, Ty Ziegel.  He was very badly injured when a suicide bomber attacked the place where he was in Iraq.  When Ziegel got home, he had to fight the VA to get his “head trauma” coverage changed to traumatic brain injury.  That covers 100%, compared to head trauma’s 10%.  The point is, he should not have had to do this, they should have automatically done it.

Now, I’m not saying the VA has to cover everything that ever happens to a veteran off duty, but they should be covering injuries (physical and psychological) that happen to them during the course of their service.  They are putting their lives on the line to defend this country, and we owe them that.

The story has quotes from people who say the injury ratings system is antiquated, and I believe it is.  But, the VA has other problems.  State to state departments simply do not communicate.  I know this from personal (second hand) experience, because my mother had to handle my grandfather’s medical things for awhile.  She had to deal with getting medical data transferred from Massachusetts to my state when he came to live with us for a while.  I think the problem becomes increasingly exasperated after a several years out of active service.  The older veterans are pushed back to make way for the new, and may fall through the cracks.

My point is, this should not be happening.  It would seem to me, that until I hear of any more problems, the way forward is clear for the VA.  There are 3 steps that can be taken to clean things up a bit:

1) Fix the injury rating system.  The article says it dates back to WWII.  Hello!  This is 2007, and we know a lot more about what real injuries are now then we did.  Maybe this is the reason people who fought in Vietnam are having trouble getting psychological injuries covered.  Since back then you probably would have known about it!

2) Improve your communication, VA offices!  Maybe it’s time for some kind of national database of veterans, so that all offices can know their details, and what service-related medical problems they have.  It’d certainly help when a veteran moves to a new state, or has a VA-covered problem in a state other than their home.

Yea, I know, privacy issues.  I am normally against things like this, but I think it’s clear something needs to be done.

3) Make sure your hospitals are ran properly!  After the whole Walter Reed scandal last year (though I know it’s not in your jurisdiction), the VA should make sure its hospitals are keeping clean, and giving the utmost proper care to our veterans.

I think it’s a simple issue, though the solutions may be a little more complex.  We owe it to our veterans to make sure they are cared for after serving their country.

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