Failure of VA to offer Adequate Health Care to Veterans – Term Paper


There have been numerous cases that have indicated that the VA has failed in their duties of offering quality healthcare to the veterans. It was recently reported by the CNN that around 40 U.S. veterans have lost their lives as they were waiting for appointments from the Veterans Affairs Health Care System, in Phoenix. Most of them were on a secret waiting list (Khuri, Jennifer & Henderson, 24. The report exposed that the secret list was in a scheme that the Veterans Affairs managers had designed with an aim of hiding around 1,400 sick veterans. Based on the report, it was also realized that the sick veterans had been forced to wait for weeks or months to see a doctor. The alarming report was recently confirmed by a VA, who had retired just recently (Khuri, Jennifer & Henderson, 24). CNN has been constantly reporting the widened procrastination that veterans undergo in the health care appointments for six months or more. Most veterans, therefore, have lost their lives. The fact that VA has failed to give adequate health care to veterans is a serious concern that should be dealt with accordingly.

This research paper reviewed many sources to come up with clear evidence of how the VA has failed in doing its duties of protecting the health of the veterans. One of the sources revealed that the top officials in the top management were aware of the delayed appointments but did not act on it. Most of the Phoenix VA officials are reluctant to address publicly this issue that has drawn the attention of many. Controversy, scandal, and care for the veterans in the United States have always gone together for over decades now (Khuri, Jennifer & Henderson, 24). For instance, after the Revolutionary War, the disabled veterans received promises of payments from the Congress. However, only a few veterans received payments while the many thousands who succumbed to inability were not compensated.

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In 1974, the veterans went on hunger strike for 19 days to the Federal building to agitate for poor treatment of the veterans in the VA hospitals in Los Angeles. The veterans ordered to with the Director of the VA Donald Johnson (Seal et al., 16). The director met the activists in California, but they did not come to an agreement since the Johnson demanded that they are to meet in the VAs office. The director later resigned after President Richard announced that investigation is done in the operations of the VA.

In 2003, President George W. Bush appointed a commission to investigate the operations of the VA. The commission reported that about 236,000 sick veterans have waited for the follow-up visit or initial appointments for six months or more (Seal et al., 16). The commission reported that the VA did not have sufficient capacity or adequate resource to offer the required health care to the veterans. Moreover, January 2014 the CNN reported that around 19 or more veterans lost their lives in the VA hospitals both in 2010 and 2011 due to lateness in diagnosis and treatment.

Going back to the secret list in Phoenix, Foote reported that the scheme also included destroying evidence so that the list of veterans who were waiting for care and appointments could be hidden. Furthermore, Foote said that the VA officials had warned their staff not to create doctors appointments for the sick veterans using their computer systems. Foote discovered that the staff fed the information into the computer system and performed a screen capture printout and deletes every other detail so that the records could not be traced. This happened anytime a veteran came for an appointment. He continued to say that the records were kept on the secret electronic list. However, the information indicating the veterans waiting for appointment would totally destroy. The hard copy given to the patients containing their demographic details is then transferred to an electronic waiting list. Then the data on the paper is shredded (Seal et al., 16). The names of the veterans were then removed from the secret list if their waiting days were less than fourteen days and they would make the impression of improving the waiting times while in reality they were doing nothing about it.

Foote estimated that the current number of the veterans on the secret list was around 1400 to 1600. Some of the VA staff confirmed to the CNN that Footes allegations were true, and that is how they worked exactly (Seal et al., 16). Foote continued to say that in Phoenix, the wait times that were reported back to Washington were all fabricated. They reported that their appointments were within ten or 14 days while in the real sense they ranged from six to 21 months.

Based on the recent scholarly and government studies, it was noted that the heath care system is portrayed as undertrained, inaccessible and understaffed (Khuri, Jennifer & Henderson, 24). For example, it was realized that veterans who sought for mental health care were forced to wait for up to 86 days to consult a psychiatrist. These reports came after some few weeks when the Government Office of Accountability had confirmed that the employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs had maneuvered the records for the medical appointments. For instance, in a certain clinic, the employees made it look like wait time for appointments was never there yet, in reality; the veterans were forced to wait for six months or more. The study was ordered by Congress to be carried out by the Institute of Medicine, a part of National Academies. The National Academies is an organization that offers advice on technical and scientific issues to Congress (Khuri, Jennifer & Henderson, 24). The Veteran Health Administration (VHA), which is the VAs healthcare arm, stipulates that the veterans requiring mental health care should see a doctor within 24 hours. However, the VHA does not have an accurate and reliable method that ensures that it happens.

In 2011, there was an outbreak of Legionnaires disease that erupted from the VA hospital in Oakland. It was reported that more than five veterans died within a time span of one year (Iglehart, 965). It was later reported that that the records of the VA indicated that the facility had been contaminated ever since 2007. In 2012, the VA realized that around 120 graves of the veterans in the agency-run cemeteries had been misidentified. This erupted when the scandal of unmarked graves and the incorrectly placed burials started.

On 28th April 2015, President Obama called for an investigation in Phoenix-based in its prevailing situation. Obama said that he will never tolerate any misconduct and fraud in the VA hospitals. However, he gave time for investigations to be conducted (Dunn et al., 320). After the investigations, preliminary reports indicated some scheduling issues, serious management problems and systematic problems in healthcare facilities across the whole nation The Phoenix VA director Shinseki resigned on 30th of May 2015. President Obama received the resignation during the White House meeting though with a lot of disappointments.


In conclusion, the veterans are very significant people in the society at large. This is because they ensure the security of the citizens of the whole country. Therefore, the VA should ensure that Veterans access quality health care service. Moreover, the health care services should be cost-effective and timely (Iglehart, 965). The VA health care system should collaborate with non-VA providers to ensure that the veterans obtain the health care services they need and at an appropriate time. In case the two bodies fail to coordinate, the veterans will be at risk of suffering unfavorable health outcomes. For instance, if they fail to coordinate, there may be unnecessary service duplication that is very costly on the side of the veterans. Again if critical clinical information is misrepresented between the VA and non-VA providers, the quality of health care may deteriorate adversely. Moreover, the VA officials should safeguard the safety and quality of services offered in the VA facilities. The initial claims of the outbreak of infectious disease in the VA facilities should be eliminated. Effective measures to avoid future outbreaks should be taken. The VA officials and employees should shun from malicious practice and ensure that the veterans are appropriately served.

Works Cited

Dunn, Edward J., et al. “Medical team training: applying crew resource management in theVeterans Health Administration.” Joint Commission Journal on Quality and PatientSafety 33.6(2007): 317-325.

Iglehart, John K. “The American health care system: an introduction.” New England Journal of Medicine 326.14 (1992): 962-967.

Khuri, Shukri F., Jennifer Daley, and William G. Henderson. “The comparative assessment and improvement of the quality of surgical care in the Department of Veterans Affairs.” Archives of Surgery 137.1 (2002): 20-27.

Petersen, Laura A., et al. “Regionalization and the underuse of angiography in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System as compared with a fee-for-service system.” New England Journal of Medicine 348.22 (2003): 2209-2217.

Seal, Karen H., et al. “VA mental health services utilization in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the first year of receiving new mental health diagnoses.” Journal of traumatic stress 23.1 (2010): 5-16.