(Washington – January 18, 2017) – Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) was quoted twice this week in the national press about prospects for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the new Administration.
A Healthline feature story published yesterday by award-winning journalist Jamie Reno, which highlighted what may lay ahead for VA in the new Administration, includes extensive VCS quotes. [SOURCE: Healthline, “Will Healthcare for Veterans Improve Under President Trump? The president-elect’s selection of David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs has drawn praise, but some advocates still worry about privatizing the agency.”, Jamie Reno, January 17, 2017.]
The Healthline article gives voice to several veteran leaders with concerns of possible privatization of VA healthcare, a major area of VCS concern. Reno lays out the progress made by the current Administration, but also details the many serious challenges that continue to face VA, including unacceptably high veteran suicide rates, VA claims denials, VA healthcare wait times, staffing, and the challenges of meeting the needs of women veterans. VCS has done extensive work since its founding in 2002 on nearly all of these key priorities.
Concerns about VA privatization may be less likely to be realized following the appointment of current VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin.
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) President John Rowan had praise for Shulkin’s work in fixing VA. “Dr. Shulkin came out of the private sector less than two years ago,” Rowan explained in the Healthline article. “He has been relentless in his pursuit of improving medical care for veterans, working to increase timely access, all the while holding managers and other VA staff accountable.
The day of the announcement of Shulkin’s nomination, the L.A. Times quoted VCS’s press statement about the nomination: “Another group, Veterans for Common Sense, said it was “relieved” by Trump’s pick of Shulkin,” [SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, “Trump picks Obama appointee to lead Veterans Affairs. Has he cooled on his plan to overhaul it?”, Evan Halper, January 11, 2017.]
The Healthline article also describes the plight of Gulf War veterans and other veterans with toxic wounds — areas of major VCS focus by Veterans for Common Sense:
Anthony Hardie, a Gulf war veteran, and longtime advocate for his fellow veterans, has spoken before Congress many times on the profound harms veterans have suffered through exposure to multiple toxins while on duty. He is cautiously optimistic about what Shulkin can accomplish if given the chance.
“There’s a lot of very old swamp the new president could help drain, forcing the VA to finally fulfill its long-untapped potential to really help countless toxic-wounded veterans,” said Hardie, the director of Veterans for Common Sense.
Hardie believes the VA is “uniquely situated” to learn from and treat veterans with toxic wounds.
“Veterans with Agent Orange exposure, for example, have had many disability ‘presumptives’ approved by VA, but far too many Vietnam veterans have died young, leaving it all to surviving spouses and children,” he told Healthline.
Hardie added that one-third of his fellow 1991 Gulf War veterans with Gulf War Illness remain chronically ill because of toxic exposures.
“Yet they suffer an 80 percent VA claims denial rate,” he explained. “And post-9/11 veterans exposed to burn pits or Iraqi chemical warfare agents are even worse situated, and it doesn’t stop there.”
Read the full Healthline story at: http://www.healthline.com/health-news/will-healthcare-for-veterans-improve-under-trump#4