03/08/07 — Time for action: Veterans health care needs overhaul and more funding

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Time for action: Veterans health care needs overhaul and more funding

The reports that have come out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center about conditions there are a disgrace. The stories of suspect conditions and less than high quality care should make those in charge of that portion of the veterans’ health care program ashamed.

The men and women who have been injured in the line of duty, and others who have served in past wars, have a right to not only quality care, but first-class conditions as they recover. That is the least we can do as a nation after the sacrifices they have made in the defense of their country’s freedom.

To find out that conditions had gotten this bad without any sort of aggressive campaign to get more money and more services to one of the nation’s busiest military hospitals is simply astonishing.

Seems like perhaps our federal legislators and others who had contact with the system should have been paying a little bit closer attention.

But it looks like they are now.

In the wake of the resignations and other debate, inspections are beginning around the country at military hospitals and other places that take care of wounded soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines.

And it is about time.

There have long been concerns about the quality of care and benefits this nation provides to those who have served in one of the armed forces.

Providing care is expensive and some of the facilities that house the services are in need of more funding.

Now that we are looking more closely, perhaps it is time to take a look at the benefits we provide the veterans of wars past and present, just to make sure those programs are doing the job they need to be doing for the nation’s servicemen and women.

And if there are some doubts, or if there is a need for better care and benefits, now is the time to do something about it.

Many veterans do not tell their stories if they have problems with their health care. Now is the time to search out those who use the system and ask them about their experiences. Were they good? How long did it take to get the care they needed? Was the cost handled for them — and if not — what did they have to provide out of pocket?

There are many caring professionals at the nation’s veterans hospitals who do significant work to help those who are recovering from battle wounds. Now is the time to make sure the system not only supports their hard work with the proper facilities and equipment, but that our veterans know they can count on the care they will receive if they need to go there. That is our duty.

Published in Editorials on March 8, 2007 11:14 AM