Letters: On VA privatization

Johnson City Press • Apr 7, 2018 at 6:00 AM

With recent talk about plans to privatize the Veterans Health Administration system, we asked you with Monday’s Question of the Week whether you thought the federal government should put more emphasis on private care for veterans. Here are some of your responses.

Specialist consideration

I am very happy to say that I do not feel privatization is needed at the VA in Johnson City. However, if they do not have the medical specialist needed for their patients, I feel they should be sent to a private specialist.

My husband, who is a disabled vet, has received the best of care at the VA. In fact, he had a heart attack there and their quick response and care saved his life, as he had the widow-maker. They did the heart cath and sent him speedily over to the Medical Center.

He has had other problems such as sleep apnea and a massive herniated disc, which required private doctors, as the VA did not have a sleep specialist nor a neurosurgeon. He was quickly sent to private doctors for these problems.

I think they have responded to our needs and I will always be thankful for their wonderful care of him. Privatization is only needed when the VA does not have the personnel to treat the patient.


Blame Congress for VA scandal

Congressional Republicans fall over themselves, each trying to seem the most veteran-friendly. Probably Phil Roe's most visited newsletter topic is veterans — and of course his superlative support.

In his latest, he's almost desperately reassuring vets that absolutely not, no way are Republicans trying to privatize the VA. I suspect he's been set back by vets who agree with American Legion Director Verna Jones that "there is no better care or value available anywhere in the U.S." He boasts of extra billions for the VA when the real issue is how and where the money is spent. Surely no veteran should vote for Roe without confidence in his veracity.

Privatizing the VA is a long-standing conservative goal, bankrolled by the Koch brothers with their privatization front group called Concerned Veterans for America. In the Koch brothers' world, the VA is just another important public-run system, like Medicare, Social Security, and public education, whose practitioners and beneficiaries resist the diversion of funds to private business. As well they should.

Republicans pounced on the 2014 VA scandal as proof that government-run programs are bad, when failure really stemmed from congressional shortsightedness. Any fool could know the folly of demanding an already understaffed medical system should simply handle the huge influx created by a "Shock and Awe" war, and another still going after 15 years. Congress didn't remotely equip the VA for the predictable onslaught of desperate need.

I suggest Mr. Roe could conduct an anonymous survey of local professional VA employees as to how he might clean up his own act. Professionals with widely marketable skills, yet willing to serve our nation's veterans, are true public servants whose efforts should never be undermined or denigrated. That's what he's done behind their backs, and sometimes publicly, by following the Koch brothers' line.

Johnson City

Support VA employees

I object to officials and lawmakers underfunding the VA and then using the impact of their actions to criticize the performance of dedicated employees at the VA and the organization as a whole.

I further object to officials and lawmakers playing games with the Veterans Choice Program, or any other machinations to justify privatizing the VA.


Keep an eye out each week for another Question of the Week, but you may send us letters about any topic important to you. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

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