The response of the administrator at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Mo., to the plight of an Oak Ridge Marine is heartening indeed. Nancy Arnold has spoken passionately and forcefully in the past about providing the best health care possible to veterans, and her swift efforts to rectify the bureaucratic snafus encountered by Jolani McCanless turned her words into deeds. McCanless is now under the care of VA doctors for health problems related to his tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Members of the McCanless family and VA officials agree that a combination of paperwork overload and the unfamiliarity of young soldiers with the VA system contributed to the problems McCanless encountered. Arnold says additional staff is being assigned to handle the increase workload as more soldiers with health problems return to this area.
Until U.S. troop levels are reduced in the Mideast, the potential that this problem will grow continues to increase. Preparing for the mountains of red tape and getting medical professional ready for the increased number of cases will take good planning and organizational skills on the part of VA officials.
Hats off to Arnold for her efforts to address the needs of McCanless and the many other soldiers who will be seeking medical treatment.