Whether we like it or not, the United States military has long been the largest segment of socialism present in our society. It is an example of taking a bad idea and turning it into something worthwhile. At least in smallish doses. The fact that entering into the military has been voluntary through most of our history puts a spin of freedom on it, but once in, the experience is profoundly different from civilian life. You go here or there as ordered. You are told what to eat and when. Others, often bureaucrats, literally hold our very lives in their hands.
The juxtaposition of freely joining what becomes a socialist haven has served the security needs of this country quite well. But we now see that even under the best of circumstances, anything socialistic apparently is destined to become corrupt. Anyone who does not believe it need only look at the medical needs which are variously being cared for or ignored by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many reasons can be cited for this breakdown of the contractual arrangement made long ago with our veterans, but the nature of the organization itself may be the largest single contributing factor.
We have seen huge regional variations in the quality of medical care that veterans receive for decades. In microcosm, in areas with close local oversight, and a community that actually cares about such mundane things as promises, care seems to be much better. Rural areas seem to be more responsive to veteran needs than do urban areas. Of course, these broad brushstrokes are patently unfair and are certainly not universal, but the point is simply that the quality of the medical care our veterans receive seems related to how anonymous or valued veterans tend to be in their communities.
The mess that is the VA is curious. Why do some states get more funding than others? That comes from both the executive and legislative branches with little regard for the legitimate needs of veterans. It seems rather odd that it is not population based. It would seem rather simple to figure out how many veterans live here and there then dole out the available funds accordingly. Sure, every town does not need a trauma hospital for veterans, and there may not even need to be a cardiac surgery wing in every state, but adjustments can be made for such things.
Why are some VA hospitals sprawling affairs that treat very few veterans but are filled with civilian patients, while veterans wait in line? Some VA hospitals have figured out that if they locate adjacent to a teaching hospital the very best surgeons are available to them. Others seem to only have docs and support personnel who could not get any job in the civilian world. A VA physician acquaintance actually advised me to never go to a VA facility for anything unless there was absolutely no other choice.
Then we get the “news” that veterans in the Phoenix area are being refused treatment for what can only be described as no good reason at all. And the bureaucrats are financially rewarded for utterly failing to do their jobs. Instead of treating the veterans whose medical needs are entrusted to them, they routinely violate every ethical and moral imperative which rational people would expect of them. They work for all of us. They are paid by all of us. Why are we paying for this incompetence, at best, and the corruption that goes with it?
A cynical person might wonder if this is what we should expect from any health care system controlled by our government. It is beyond chilling to ponder the possibility that the kinks are being worked out on our veterans and the lessons learned will be applied to everyone else soon enough.