More VA Political Football

The Massa campaign and local bloggers are both upset about the closing of the 8 bed acute psychiatric unit at the Canandaigua VA hospital. Since this same hospital was "saved" a couple of weeks ago, there's good reason to question why services are being cut immediately after salvation was at hand.

That said, every time I hear Vets complain about the closing of a VA hospital, I wonder why they must receive their health care through a parallel, often inferior, and usually inconvenient delivery system. What if we closed every VA hospital and simply gave Veterans an insurance card that allowed them to recieve quality care at any hospital? Why should a Vet who has a psychiatric crisis be forced to travel to Canandaigua (and now Buffalo or Syracuse) for treatment?

I believe Vets should get the best care possible, but the VA system seems like a hold-over that has outlived its usefulness.


Actually, at RT, we were mostly commenting on the fact that the whole "keeping it open" thing was kind of a sham.

A insurance card sounds nice, but the government would have to mandidate it be accepted. And what hospital would accept a vet who is having a psychiatric crisis and possibily having overwhelming flashbacks? WCA in Jamestown, or Olean General, the hospital in Bath, Wellsville, Hornell, Corning, Elmira and even Rochester? Are they properly staffed to help any vet thru a psychiatric crisis? I doubt that they would want us at their facilities very long. And just who is going to get the vet there? Are public or private ambulances equiped to handle these cases. Is another brother vet going to drive one in there private vehicle possibly endangering each other or other people? This is already a major problem.

VA acute psychiatric units are specially staffed and outfitted to handle these situtations. There are to few of them already. The Canandaigua Unit has assisted many vets, WWII to present, back to becoming productive members of the community. They have helped vets return to families so they could be fathers and husbands (and maybe even mothers) again. And just how far should a Vet's family have to drive to visit often. These visits are extremely important.

As a Vietnam vet, I a deeply concerned about our current servicemen and women in not only the active service, but also the Reserve and National Guard. What they are seeing and dealing with in Iraq and Afghanistan is going to be a major problem for them in the future. While there may be less of them than from the Vietnam era, the problems will be more difficult and longer term. They answered the call when they were needed, and now it is up to our elected officials on both sides of the aisle to stand up and do the right thing in return.

I too, believe that Vets should get the best care possible. The VA system may seems like a hold over that has outlived it usefulness, but only because of the lack of funding it receives from the government. It should be a guiding example for the rest of our health care system. It should have the finest available medical facilities, equipment and personnel. It should attract the finest doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. And it should operate cheaper than private facilities because it does not have to make a profit. We can only ask those in Washington who consider the military as cannon fodder, why it doesn't.

And yes, keeping the facility open, then announcing the closing of the unit, is a sham.

Can't believe the Canand. facility is being reduced like this. When I followed your link, I discovered that the local newspaper there ENDORSED MASSA?! That is surprising. Wow.

VA acute psychiatric units are specially staffed and outfitted to handle these situtations.

This is what I was thinking too. A very high proportion of vets (as many as 25% in some wars) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It seems to me that it makes a lot of sense to have special psychiatric facilities for dealing with this and any other ailments that particulalry afflict veterans.

Let me start by saying that I'm no expert on VA care - I was just throwing out an idea.

It makes sense that there are a couple of areas where specialist VA hospitals make sense. Psychiatric and Neurological care (for tramautic brain injury) might be one. Another might be prosthetic care and rehab for amputees.

But let me share another experience. My wife's uncle is a Vet who has a terminal lung disease that probably was caused by exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. He lives in a more rural area of the country. The closest VA hospital with good facilities was ~200 miles from his home. He actually moved his family to be closer to that hospital, even though there were other (non-VA) hospitals just as good much closer to his original home.

In rural parts of the country, building more VA hospitals isn't cost-effective - the density of vets just doesn't justify it. Wouldn't he be better off with an insurance card?

I agree with LV Vet that Vets should be skeptical about any half-assed insurance card scheme, but acceptance of the card could be mandated by law.