My plan for the VA involves many different components.
My bullet points are not working but I am working on correcting the problem. Sorry.
- First and most important is to immediately fund the VA appropriately, taking into account the huge numbers of Veterans that have returned from active duty post 9-11. Money must be spent in the locations where the waiting times are the longest and space rented and providers hired to immediately end these crazy wait periods.
- At the same time, we must increase mental health availability and crisis centers and call centers. No Veteran should have to leave a voice message and wait for a return call if they are in crisis.
- Due to the population shifts of Veterans, many facilities must be downsized due to under use. This will save the VA and taxpayers money. Simultaneously, new facilities must be acquired in areas where population shifts of Veterans causes new facilities to be necessary. Such as New Port Richey.
- The top heavy administration must be streamlined, and service providers must have more of a voice in the running of the VA. Problems are occurring that the top do not know of or ignore. Lift bars and other apparatuses used while the Veterans are in house must be secure and not fall from the ceiling or collapse while in use. (This is a recent problem I have heard of). Any company that sells to the VA products not up to specs or that fail during use should be banned from bidding for at least year on the first offense.
- The Ending of retaliation is necessary for whistle blowers. Maybe an outside veteran organization such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America or some other not partisan Veteran Centrist organization should be the access point for whistle blowers at all levels.
- The VA must become service oriented, including electronic record keeping and up to date medical facilities. Everything done at the VA must be directly beneficial to the veterans. Separate staff should be supported to train new employees in different departments so that the veterans do not have to be without service while training occurs. Also bad providers such as nurses, doctors, and administrators, must be quickly dispatched. These are very rare instances, because most of the Veterans and inside people I have spoken to have very little negatives concerning staff.
- Mental health treatment must be increased and alternative therapies, such as exercise, horseback riding, races, swimming, must be explored and comfort and service dogs more widely available.
- Alternatives to opiates must be found and unrelenting pain, one of the drivers of suicide, must be eased no matter how. The Washington Post had an article about marijuana possibly being an alternative to opiate use and this must be explored.
- There should be no more unfunded mandates, and any administrative functions, such as committees and reporting must be separately funded so that money is not taken from funds for care. All private access medical care, such as choice and tricare must be separately funded so funds for Veteran treatment at VA facilities are not spent on private providers, thereby weakening the VA care centers ability to care for their patients. This will also make it easier for accountability to the public.
- There must be leadership from the pre and post 9-11 error. While each of these groups need care, these groups have some different problem sets that are not considered.
- Private service providers that are currently permitted, to ease the waiting periods, must accept medicare rates or from a separate, Congressional funded account.
- On disability claims, those disability claims that are undeniable must begin to be paid immediately upon discharge. The disputed ones can be dealt though the current process until it can be streamlined. The government would have the burden to prove the claim is not service connected and no longer would a Veteran have to prove that service connection.
These are a few things on my bucket list. I am open to any suggestions or ideas from Veterans or Veteran groups. The problems can only be fixed by proper funding, reallocation of assets, and if they are known. Feel free to send me a comment through my website.