Friday, June 3, 2016

Veterans in Crisis Mode

June 3, 2016
Our Long Island Veteran Community needs help, and it needs it quickly. Apparently, the Department of Veterans Affairs has begun stripping both our older and younger Veterans of their rightful, earned medical and mental health disability claims. The VA has also come up with a foolproof way of making it nearly impossible for any Veteran to receive medical services; either from the VA Health Administration, or the private sector by manipulating the types of Discharges.
We are talking about men and women who raised their right hands and swore to defend this Country. They did this willingly and with a great sense of pride. The U.S Government also told them that they would be taken care of after they had served their Country. The reality is that, at every turn, both young and old Veterans are being denied benefits, and turned away in alarmingly increasing numbers from the VA Medical Administration.
Everything the public has been fed since the fiasco in Phoenix either is an outright lie, or simply doesn’t work as advertised. It’s all about the money! The “voo-doo” economics of the 1980’s has morphed into “voo-doo” accounting in the 2000’s and the Department of Veterans Affairs is playing it to hilt.
I have been witness to a microcosm of the VA Health Administration’s way of delivering its product to its intended market for forty-five years. I have been enrolled at the VA Medical Center in Northport, NY over that period. I am acquainted with a multitude of highly qualified Veteran enrollees who are well versed in the administrative and building trade disciplines. The recent closing of our Operating suites is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how grossly mismanaged this Medical Center has been and is currently. As I have read and seen the local news accounts on the subject of our Operating Room closures (plus other Medical Center accounts over the years), I can no longer stand idly by and simple voice my concerns among my fellow Veterans.
I am directly referencing recent articles in Newsday and the New York Times; Martin Evans (Newsday), Valerie Bauman (Newsday), and Kristina Rebelo (New York Times). These Journalists have recently reported on the Operating Room closures and a few other situations at the VAMC, Northport. Newsday’s articles started with a very generous accounting of the situation based on the information being fed from the Medical Center’s Management. Unfortunately, the information disseminated is rife with misleading statements and outright lies. The recent New York Times article was not so complimentary. For the most part, the journalistic accounts indicate that the Press has been “drinking the Kool-Aide” the VA has been serving. Two of our local U.S. Congressmen have not taken a sip of that Kool-Aide, and raised the roof in Washington DC because, they were not informed by the Medical Center, or the VA, about the situation in Northport until two weeks ago; over four months after the closures first occurred. The result was astounding. A visit by the VA’s Under-secretary for Health (May 27, 2016), and suddenly the Medical Center Director found the $32,000.00 to fix the ventilation problem in the air vents feeding the Operating Rooms. Why was that money not found in January when the problem was acknowledged by the Medical Center’s Engineering Department and a VA air quality sub-contractor?

As I mentioned, this is just the tip of a very large iceberg. A short list of other problem areas include: black mold in all the buildings that were built in 1928 (what came out of the duct system in the operating Rooms contained evidence of black mold); the dis-organization of the entire medical structure; the lack of expenditures on all aspects of the facility’s maintenance; and, the total breakdown of employee morale and accountability. The crumbling of this Medical facility at all levels has been happening at an alarming rate over the last two decades, and the Veterans Administration chooses to turn a blind eye. If confronted, they serve up a new round of Kool-Aide for anyone who challenges their fraud against and disrespect for the area’s Veteran community. How this can happen in a Medical Center that is supposed to serve our Veterans is beyond the pale. The VA is steadfastly opposed to having an independent audit and assessment of its practices and of its facility, so a proper audit will probably never happen
As Veterans, we fought to defend this Nation, and, now, we are forced to fight another war at home to secure what was promised us. This overall situation is not right, on so many levels, and needs to a major remedy immediately. I have some cogent thoughts on the subject, and am willing to open a dialogue with anyone who actually cares about how this Nation is treating its Veterans.

Samples of some suggested reading for 2016 (so far):
Vietnam Veterans Magazine 
The American Legion Magazine
The VFW Magazine

Hutch Dubosque, President
PTSD Veterans Association of Northport, Inc.
10 Woolsey St., Huntington, NY   11743 / 631-223-6107