We Can Do Better for our Veterans

middle-finger-x-ray_largeHey, Department of Veterans Affairs, FUCK YOU!! Just. Fuck. You. Your system is broken and shitty. I hate it. It costs valuable time, and I’m sure lives are lost this way. Fuck your process. Fuck your fifty miles of red tape to get blood work done. Fuck your policies that slow down the healthcare process for millions of veterans who deserve to be taken care of without any problems. You are an absolutely miserable organization to deal with. I am beyond fed up (as I’m sure are many veterans and their family members) with you and your horrible procedural nuances that prevent veterans from getting actual care when they need it.

Veterans shouldn’t have to jump through hoops and follow your schedule (which is idiotic to begin with) just to get care. It’s insane, takes forever, and causes more problems than it solves. Oh, and fuck your ridiculous criteria for care. Any veteran should be able to go to any hospital and get care paid for by the V.A. Fix it. If a sick veteran has to go through V.A. clinics to be admitted to a hospital, that’s a seriously broken part of the system. And if we’re going to keep that part, keep the clinics open 24/7. Don’t close at fucking 4:00 in the afternoon. If that doesn’t work, why don’t the clinics have emergency wards, with just one doctor who works a night shift, and looks at people who come in to determine if they’re sick enough to be admitted? I mean, if you want to continue with the old process, we can at least change it so that it makes more sense.

A lot of cases can’t wait until the next day. They’re matters of life and death. And if a vet is stuck until the next day, we’re failing. We’re failing at adequately caring for them after they’ve given their lives in service to this country. It’s disrespectful and wrong. We need to fix it. Not “reform” it, not make a few little changes. Fix it.

nextgov-mediumAnd on top of all the shit veterans already have to deal with, you’ve got a humongous backlog of claims. Get your shit together! Damn. Here’s a thought: why don’t we run the V.A. in the same procedural manner that Medicare is run? Instead of vets having to go to specific hospitals, which are often few and far between, give them a card. This would act just like an insurance card, or a Medicare card. They can walk into any hospital or emergency room, get care, and the V.A. is billed. Is that so complicated? They’re being covered anyway, why can’t we streamline the process so that veterans never have to wait to get care? Because this shit is not working now.

Stop forcing veterans to be stuck in emergency rooms while you get the stick out of your ass and do a bunch of paperwork. This goes back to the card thing. Just let veterans be admitted if need be, and worry about the red tape and shit later. That could be a huge difference. Plus, if veterans know how it works, they might be scared to go to a hospital without going through V.A. channels first. They know what happens. You get to a hospital, sit in an emergency room for a day and a half, and then get sent home or shipped to a VA hospital, because the fucking hospital you’re in doesn’t work. It won’t care for you. It doesn’t know what’s wrong with you. No, you have to be stuffed in an ambulance and sent to a hospital two hours away because it has “V.A.” in its name. Hospitals are hospitals. Fucking get that in your head.

all-programs-administered-by-the-department-of-veterans-affairs-as-well-as-the-militarys-wounded-warrior-programs-would-also-be-exempt-according-to-cornell-university-law-schoolVeterans deserve a no-bullshit, common sense healthcare system, and we are clearly not giving them that now. We’re drowning veterans and their families in red tape, long waits, and precious lost time. It’s insane. Take the bureaucracy out of the process, you’ll save a lot of time and lives. And if you don’t have enough workers to pull that off, you’re sitting on a big fucking pile of cash. Start interviewing fuckers. A big pile of cash, by the way, that’s on top of the other huge pile of cash the federal government just offered you, but you declined. Don’t give anyone this “we can’t afford to handle the claims traffic” shit. Nobody is buying it. Get your thumbs out of your asses and get shit done for once. 

And if you don’t want to use that big hunk of cash the government offered you to fix the backlog, why not build more V.A. hospitals? That’s half the problem right now. Vets have to drive hours away from home just to get to a hospital where they won’t be stuck in the ER. Build more hospitals, that solves a lot of problems. The closest actual V.A. hospital is two hours away from us. In case of an emergency, veterans that live far away from VA hospitals have to play phone tag with the V.A. just to be seen by a doctor. This is ludicrous, and it needs to stop.

pillsAlong with the changes we need to make, can we talk about overmedicating people? Holy fuck it’s ridiculous. If you give someone, especially a veteran with PTSD, five medicines that cause side effects, don’t give them more pills. When a medication causes a side effect, don’t treat it with another medication. You’re creating an endless cycle, and it’s causing a lot of veterans to go crazy from heavy overmedication. And how do you treat that once they’re hospitalized because their minds are so fried? YOU GIVE THEM MORE MEDICINE. The fucking logic here is ridiculous.

How about this? Any time there’s a vet who is on more than five medications, set a red flag in the system for them. Any time they’re prescribed a new medication, a pharmacist has to sit down and look at every single one of their current medications. Not glance at them, but seriously examine the side effects and implications of ever single pill. If there might be a complication, don’t fucking give them the new prescription. And for the love of all that is good and decent, don’t let doctors prescribe health medications without consulting with the mental health physicians, and vice-versa. 

If the mental health expert doesn’t know what 15 medications someone is taking for physical health problems, shit could go wrong. Of course, they don’t find out until it’s too late and that person is in the hospital. “Oh fuck, they’re on too much medicine.” Veterans are not dart boards. You can’t just keep throwing pills at every problem you see and hope one sticks. A vast majority of the psychological problems you’re hurling medicine at are actually CAUSED by medicine.

Chairman_Sanders_bio_1Also, I love Bernie Sanders, but come on. “Veterans should know, if you served in Iraq or Afghanistan, years of free healthcare. Walk in the door, get the VIP treatment.” Ummm no. If the red tape shit isn’t handled first, vets could end up paying for ambulance pickups, ER physician’s bills, and more. It’s not just about giving veterans free healthcare. It’s about doing it in a smart, sensible way that benefits them and makes sense. Does it make sense for a vet with COPD, bipolar disorder, and diabetes to have to wait another 16 hours to be seen by a V.A. clinic, just to have someone there look at them and say that they need to be admitted? NO FUCKING SHIT. We wouldn’t be bringing our grandfather to you without an appointment if he didn’t need to be admitted to a hospital. 

Here’s an even better idea. At every hospital, have a V.A. representative on call. This person would be trained by the V.A. and all that jazz. So if a veteran comes into an emergency room, the V.A. rep can examine them and give them the green light to be admitted. Instead of taking a sick vet from one place to another for a stupid formality, why not bring the two steps together in the same place?

1044762_562632847133289_232161063_nAs a final, more personal point, you either need to pay or train your nurses at the Birmingham V.A. hospital better. Most of them act like they don’t want to be there, and those are not the kind of people we need taking care of our veterans. I’m not saying the Birmingham V.A. is a horrible place. I’m sure tons of veterans have gotten great, quality care there. But my grandfather was there for a week, and the first four days of that week were like the seventh circle of hell for him. Nobody seemed to care. He would call for a nurse, nobody came. My grandmother would go to the nurse’s station and ask for a nurse, nobody came. This went on for four fucking days, until the doctor finally had to reprimand the nurses for not doing their fucking jobs. Absolutely unheard of and unprofessional. 

Thank God for the one nurse on that floor that actually gave a damn and put the others in their place. Her name is Angie, by the way. Give her a fucking raise. So in my experience, the Birmingham V.A. has at least a small group of nurses who frankly do not deserve to be nurses given their behavior.

Look, I get that some veterans may be high maintenance and may need constant care and attention. I get that. But if that’s not something you’re prepared to do, DON’T FUCKING WORK FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS. Work at a hospital or a clinic or a donut shop. If you don’t like taking care of mentally ill veterans, don’t be a V.A. nurse. Period. And if you just got stuck with that job because it was the only one open, suck it up and do the job you were lucky enough to get. Tons of people with nursing degrees can’t even find work as secretaries for doctors, they’d kill for a job as an actual nurse. Don’t take it for granted and abuse it. If you do, we will see how much you don’t deserve that job, and give it to someone else. 

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