Key To Privatization of the VA: Caveat Emptor

L5DKVD5V3FAA7B7OPDJB5Z2LNU.jpg

To monetize the health and care of war veterans is not a political matter, it is a moral one. Knowing that morality may be on vacation in current times, it will be that same war veteran that is charged with exhorting our comrades to resist this aberrant form of capitalism. There are some things that must remain sacred and out of bounds of profiteering. “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan” is to remain in that sacred covenant with those who have sacrificed mind and limb for the liberty of all, and be assured the widow and orphan would not make it across the threshold to private care.

The “Big 6” are on our side. That would include: 

  • The Disabled Veterans of America

  • The Veterans of Foreign Wars

  • American Legion

  • AMVETS

  • Paralyzed Veterans of America

  • Vietnam Veterans of American

Also included are the majority of the twenty-four other fraternal organizations that are not as large but just as vocal. The Catholic War Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, Marine Corps League are in those ranks. They may not have the cash to lobby Congress, but they all have seats at the table as legitimate Congressionally-Chartered Veteran Organizations, unlike the non-profit advocacy group Concerned Veterans For America.

David Shulkin, the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, sealed his fate with his refusal to further outsourcing of our health care for veterans, yet he is champion with the Big 6.

Eight years ago, the Koch brothers formed Concerned Veterans of America, camping on the noted and internally acknowledged by the VA, that they had serious administrative failings. No one to date in the mainstream media has bothered to discern and lay out the distinctions between clinical care and administrative error. For example, there is no one in my immediate circle of veterans friends, many of whom members of the Big 6, who have any lasting complaints about our healthcare at Loma Linda, California VA. Those who point to the current ratings of our nations’ VA hospitals need to be reminded that those ratings are internally generated, and they are quite stringent with their rating system. When the veteran surveys are administered, the favorable ratings have returned at about 87%. My wife’s healthcare cannot hold a candle to the VA. Neither she nor my adult children would want to see me cared for by their healthcare provider. The parsing and vetting would be brutal.

When President Trump spouted to his base that we want to expand the VA Choice Program so that “the veterans can have a choice and run to a private doctor and take care of it,” he exhibited a gross misunderstanding of the program’s genesis, which is to care for veterans who cannot be seen inside thirty days. It is not to throw them from the train. Not to mention the continuity of care would turn into a irreversible labyrinth. Also note that the VA Choice Act was created in 2014. It is not Trump’s invention, as he so loudly boasts. There are also thousands of doctors across America who have proclaimed that they are in no way prepared to care for veterans and the myriad of symptoms related to combat. 

We do need to be acutely aware of the muscular influence of this mock veterans organization Concerned Veterans For America, as they have raised $52 million for red herring campaigns and policy work. They have the ear of the President and many of the Freedom Caucus members, few of whom have served in the Armed Forces.

On the agenda of CVA is a fundamental change that will result in restricting the number of veterans eligible for healthcare. A storm is brewing here.

Note that nearly one-third of our nation’s nine million veterans already benefit from referrals to private healthcare. In fact, I was just given an appointment to a private doctor for my annual eye exam. But with all the touting about “choice,” they select the doctor, not you. Ergo,Caveat Emptor, buyer beware.

CVA was considered an outlier until Trump came to office. Now they are a mainstream influence.

While I find the phrase “fake news” to be the siren cry of the ill-informed, I will counsel you to take the time to corroborate and validate the onslaught of confabulated messaging that is to rain upon us in the coming elections.

Summarily, even though it is not in the scope of this article, it worth noting that cooperative privatization with the VA and vast community of third party vendors have been in place for nearly forty years. An enormous hunk of the VA budget is allocated to non-profits corporations with hundreds of thousand of outsourced government contractors working on VA research and IT projects. Cities all across the nation make use of their local university medical schools in concert with the local VA for doctors’ training, often affording the veteran some of the most current treatment modalities.

If the privatization of the VA were to actually occur, who and how is the oversight funded? Yet another government agency controlled by insiders? Debt appears to no longer be a concern of the Grand Ole Party.

The VA does not need to be disrupted; it needs to welcome improvement. And that will happen with the feedback from its customers.

Michael Patrick Brewer is a retired disabled Veteran of Marine Corps. Former combat squad leader in Vietnam.  Retired Commercial Property Manager and Private Investigator for matters of Real Estate. Author of Veteran Veritas, a column for a Gannett owned paper; Tucson Citizen, that closed shop in 2009. Raised in Dixon, Illinois until age 11 when family moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1959. Civically involved for 40 years. Past President of Building Owners Association and Chair of City Budget Advisory. Youth and High School Soccer Coach and former owner of Tucson Amigos Soccer Franchise. Past President of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 106. Past Commandant and Founder of Apple Valley California Marine Corps League. Currently serve as their Veteran Service Officer. Member of VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans.  Married to Lydia Diane Benson/Brewer from Pittsburg, Pa. Three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He lives in Crestline, California in the San Bernardino Mountains.