IN PRAISE OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION

     The press and various political figures have had a field day recently attacking the VA, primarily on the grounds that several VA officials have, in various locations, covered up their failure to provide sufficiently prompt service to needy vets.  The allegations are apparently true, and the criticism is apparently valid.

     There is, however, a danger that we might be left with the impression that the VA hospitals are generally failing to provide any decent service at all.  If you have been left with that impression, I invite you to visit a VA center.  You will undoubtedly find it a beehive of activity.  The VA centers are filled to capacity with patients, and they are equally filled with the highest quality and most highly committed medical professionals in the business.  The demands on those professionals are endless, and yet, when I recently paid a visit to my local VA hospital, I was greeted warmly by every VA employee I encountered, and I was given all the time and all the information I asked for.  The man I went to see had some very serious health problems, and he was being given excellent care and he was being treated with the utmost respect and kindness. 

     This is, of course, as it should be.  We call upon our service men and women to engage in the most patently horrific acts imaginable, acts that, in civil life, would send them to prison or execution.  We ask them to kill, and we ask them to watch their fellow soldiers bleed and die.  We ask them to witness all the horrors of war.  and then we demand that they come back and resume their civilian lives as if nothing happened.  We owe them, in return, the assurance that they will receive the very best medical care available.  The VA centers are, by my own personal observation, providing just that.

     As I said, the allegations made are likely true.  Let us remember, however, that these are failings of bureaucrats, not medical professionals.  The doctors and nurses and technicians and aides and orderlies and all those who work at VA centers who provide those marvelous services have nothing to do with those bureaucratic blunders and misdeeds.  They work tirelessly, and they deserve nothing but praise and thanks for that.  Make a political football out of the bureaucratic misconduct if you wish, but give those who provide care to our veterans all the credit and praise they so richly deserve.

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