Veterans: Concerns and Issues

The USA article published the following article today (May 4, 2014): VA treatment records falsified, probe finds.

Greg Zoroya, the author, wrote:

A VA investigation of one of its outpatient clinics in Colorado reveals how ingrained delays in medical care may be for an agency struggling to rapidly treat nearly 9 million veterans a year amid allegations that dozens have died because of delays.

Many of the 6,300 veterans treated at the outpatient clinic waited months to be seen. If the clerical staff allowed records to reflect that veterans waited longer than 14 days, they were punished by being placed on a “bad boy list,” the report shows.

The Medical Inspector’s probe in the Fort Collins case could not confirm that patients had been harmed “due to the lack of specific cases evaluation.”

A key allegation by the whistle-blowing retired doctor in Phoenix is that staff members manipulated records to hide delays. The same practice was found by the VA Office of Medical Inspector at the clinic in Fort Collins.

The VA found it wasn’t doing so well with first-time mental health appointments, either. The agency reported in 2011 that 95% of new mental health patients were seen within 14 days, but the new tracking system found the rate in 2013 was 66%.

Numbers of outpatient visits are spiraling, in large part because of an aging veteran population and young combat survivors suffering multiple medical and psychological issues.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/04/va-healthcare-delays-treatment-phoenix-cheyenne-deaths/8602117/

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki made the following statement on allegations regarding the Phoenix VA Health Care System:

“We take these allegations very seriously.

“Providing Veterans the quality care and benefits they have earned through their service is our only mission at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We believe it is important to allow an independent, objective review to proceed. These allegations, if true, are absolutely unacceptable and if the Inspector General’s investigation substantiates these claims, swift and appropriate action will be taken.

http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2541

Concerns on the horizon:

Veterans Agency Is Sued Over Handling of Trauma Cases

Two veterans groups and a Yale legal clinic sued the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday, charging that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder from sexual assaults during their service have more difficulty proving their illness to the department — and thus obtaining disability benefits — than veterans with other forms of PTSD.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/us/veterans-agency-is-sued-over-handling-of-trauma-cases.html?_r=0

Did you know that April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month?

See:

“You’re Not Alone” – VA Supports Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma

http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/mentalhealth/featureArticle-28_march_032814.asp

There are indications that more than 1 in 5 combat vets may have symptoms of PTSD or depression, TBI, and about 7% report both:

Fort Hood shooting renews questions about demands on mental health care

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The fatal shootings carried out by a soldier at Fort Hood underscore lingering concerns that the military mental health system is unable to meet the needs of troops carrying invisible wounds from more than a decade of wars.

More than one in five veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression and at least as many report having experienced a traumatic brain injury while deployed, with about 7 percent reporting both, researchers have found.

we must all acknowledge that there are indeed problems with the way mental health and transitional support is managed

http://www.kshb.com/news/fort-hood-shooting-renews-questions-about-demands-on-mental-health-care

There was a report that the VA planned to hire “about 1,600 additional psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health clinicians in an effort to reduce long wait times for services at many veterans medical centers.”

See:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/us/veterans-affairs-dept-to-increase-mental-health-staffing.html

It was my understanding also that there would be a greater allocation of funding in Long Island to support returning veterans.  Suffolk has the largest population of veterans in N.Y.

Did you know that Type 2 Diabetes is a major concern among the veteran population?

See:

Silent Epidemic

“Type 2 diabetes is at epidemic proportions among the Veteran population,” noted Dr. Tim O’Leary, acting director of VA’s Office of Research and Development. “It affects nearly 20 percent of Veterans who use the VA health care system, compared to 8.3 percent of the general population. This means that diabetes — and with it, the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, renal disease and amputation — affects more than one million Veterans at any given time.”

http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2014/May/VA-Battling-Silent-Epidemic.asp

The VA has posted on May is National Mental Health Awareness Month:

See:

http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2014/April/Believe-It-Mental-Health-Help-Is-Here.asp

Recent VA news releases are available here:

http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/

Roy

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