After spending years trying to meet the demands of the most recent generation of veterans, while tending to those of previous wars, the Department of Veterans Affairs is still missing the mark. In a special report by USA Today, Donovan Slack writes that as the VA struggles to address the complex medical needs of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vietnam era veterans require more care.
This means that an already beleaguered system is only going to be put under greater strain in years to come.
The department's failures have gained national attention in recent years, from the benefit-claims backlog to the manipulation of patient wait-time records. While there have been changes to the VA at the highest levels, with former secretary Eric Shinseki Stepping down, and the passage of major bills like the Choice Act and the creation of the Choice Card Program, it can be hard to tell if the situation has improved.
For instance, in the last three years, the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center has had five directors, and is awaiting the appointment of a sixth, reports USA Today.
“Measures of patient safety — the rates of in-hospital complications and adverse events following surgeries and procedures — are among the highest of VA facilities across the country, as are mortality rates for patients suffering from pneumonia or congestive heart failure,” writes Slack, adding that the Oklahoma City VA also has the highest turnover rates among registered nurses, and according to the department's own statistics, has one out of five stars for performance.
The problems and challenges facing the department are most keenly felt by the veterans who seek treatment through the VA.
When 65-year-old George Washington Purifoy originally complained of severe pain after radiation therapy damaged the bone under his nose, clinicians at the VA sent him to receive root canals and other procedures, thinking it was a dental problem.
Now Purifoy has no nose or front teeth and he’s still in pain.
To add insult to injury, the passage of the Choice Act should have allowed Purifoy to seek treatment from a private healthcare provider nearby, but instead he has to drive six hours from his home for treatment at a VA facility in Shreveport, Louisiana.
While the VA says it has hired more than 1,500 doctors in the past year to increase patients’ access to care, the agency said there is still no VA surgeon in the state who can treat Purifoy, writes Slack.
“I don’t know if there are others — there probably are, but it just seems like there’s a lot of miscommunication among the departments, a lot of lost time where patients come for appointments and the doctors they’re supposed to see are not there, a lot of people managing things but missing the big picture,” said Dr. Marci Levine, who reviewed Purifoy’s case along with four others at the request of USA Today. “And then the patients are obviously suffering at the end.”
Army Futures Command will reach fully operational status just before the newest gem of the Army's modernization plan sees its first birthday on August 24th, officials announced on Tuesday.
AFC Commander Gen. John "Mike" Murray told reporters at a technologies showcase on Tuesday that the command will be fully operational on July 31st before showing off everything AFC personnel have been working on over the last year, from night vision goggles and robotic vehicles to new air- and missile-defense capabilities.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has been told to stop using the Marine Corps' emblem and the 1st Marine Division's motto in his campaign literature, Corps officials confirmed.
The Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office has sent Hunter, a Marine veteran, a cease and desist letter telling him to quit using the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem along with the phrase, "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy," on a fundraising mailer that accuses his political opponent of having links to terrorism, NBC News first reported on Wednesday.
Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies have arrested a U.S. Army recruiter for investigation of soliciting girls as young as 10 years old for sex after he allegedly sent selfies calling himself "Colorado batman," the sheriff's department reported.
An Army appeals court has rejected Bowe Bergdahl's claim that President Trump's public description of him as "a no-good traitor who should have been executed" and other comments on the disgraced soldier's case constituted unlawful command influence (UCI).
The Marine Corps must update its parental-leave policies to give new moms and dads time with their newborns, the service's new top general wrote this week, including considering a full year's worth of leave for women who've had a child.
Marines should not be expected to choose between being the best parent possible and their career duties, Commandant Gen. David Berger wrote in his planning guidance released to the force Tuesday.
"These outcomes should never be in competition to the extent that success with one will come at the expense of the other," Berger wrote. "Our parental/maternity leave policies are inadequate and have failed to keep pace with societal norms and modern talent management practices."