VA issues cause for concern
This letter is written from the perspective of a Vietnam Veteran whose service-related medical conditions qualify him for Priority Level 2 care in the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System. For the past five and a half years, I have used the Community Based Outpatient Clinic here in Cape Girardeau. To date, I have been pleased with the service it provides, plus the staff has been competent, proficient and friendly.
It is with a good deal of concern that I read items such as:
* The July 24-26 issue of USA Today carried an article indicating the VA has 41,500 unfilled positions for medical employees. It has these vacancies in spite of the fact that it hired 12,500 medical and non-medical staff during the past year.
* The Washington Post reported in May that Jan R. Frye, the VA's deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, has accused department leaders of making a "mockery" of federal acquisition laws and spending at least $6 billion a year in violation of contracting rules.
* A Medical Center in Colorado will cost about $1.7 billion to build. This means construction costs are approximately $1 billion over budget.
Congress needs to review carefully the VA's expenses and the manner in which the department spends the money allocated to it. However, if it fails to provide sufficient funds so the VA can hire all of the necessary personnel to staff its facilities, it will only hurt veterans.
JOHN PIEPHO, Cape Girardeau