Caring for veterans

Monday, June 11, 2007

First, let's acknowledge that the Department of Veterans Affairs provides, through its extensive network of medical facilities, a level of care that not only benefits, but is appreciated by thousands of veterans who seek medical attention.

But the glaring instances when the system breaks down are in need of more than attention from lawmakers and other federal officials -- the same officials who have the power to right the injustices that are visited on far too many men and women who have served in the military and are entitled to these services.

While conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center grab the media spotlight, the plight of some veterans in their efforts to obtain medical records and successfully cope with mountains of red tape affect far more deserving individuals. Federal legislators make headlines when they travel around their constituencies to listen to veterans who are having trouble getting treatment. But they already know the scope of the problem because of the daily grind of dealing with needs and issues that are handled by their staff members.

The question isn't whether there is a problem. There is. The question is what can be done to adequately provide good medical care to veterans who are entitled to it.

In this age of computers, it is difficult to understand why records can't be processed almost instantaneously and delivered to whatever agencies make evaluations about providing benefits and care.

It is a shameful blot that those who serve our nation and suffer the consequences of that service are hurt the most by the treatment they receive from their own government's bureaucrats.

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