Reprinted with Permission
The Tragic Legacy and disaster of America’s health care system to American Veterans
By Tim Lee
“It’s a travesty. The greatness of a nation will be judged by how it treats its veterans.” –Daniel Crocker, Michigan service director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars
Due to my grave concern for this nation’s treatment of its military veterans, please allow me friend to give you a brief composite of our so-called “government health care system” as it has impacted me personally. This is not someone else’s story–this is my story. As most of you are aware, on 8 March, 1971, in Quang Nam Province in Vietnam I lost two good legs in a land mine explosion. My left leg measures 3 inches, my right leg measures 10 inches. Had it not been for the forceful intervention of my father I would have undergone a procedure known as a hip-de-articulation, where they completely remove you’re legs and your hips. That would have forced me to lie on my stomach or my back for the rest of my life. It is not that my injuries are more important than any other Marines’ injuries, who served his country, but my injuries were very profound and because they occurred during a time of war, any wounded or severely wounded American soldier has the right to expect his country’s health system to respond accordingly and professionally.
One thing I immediately determined was that I would not set around and feel sorry for myself. In these last 34 years of ministry I have flown well over 3 million miles and traveled another 400,000 miles by vehicle performing the duties of my calling. Never have I desired government hand outs or special treatment of any kind, but I have expected my government to live up to their responsibilities and promises. If we can provide free healthcare for non-citizen people who illegally flood our borders every day, then we certainly should be able to expect adequate and professional services to be rendered on behalf of the fighting men and women of our military services! One of the promises almost every president has stated during his campaigning process was that America’s veterans “deserve the best health care possible.” That is both just and fair. All of the politicians of all the major parties have expressed that commitment to America’s military personnel.
Why have they never kept those promises?
There is no judgment being passed on the other major cities of this nation when it comes to veteran healthcare, but this American veteran can tell you first hand about the deplorable conditions of veteran health care in the city of Dallas, Texas. The VA Hospital in Dallas, Texas is one of the most comical excuses for a hospital I’ve ever encountered anywhere in the world! As Doug J. Swanson of the Dallas Morning News wrote in 2005, “The Dallas veterans hospital is so dirty, dangerous and poorly managed, federal investigators have found, that it ranks as the WORST (emphasis ours) such medical center in the country.” Mr. Swanson went on to give the inspector general’s report findings by saying “We concluded there was no evidence of planned, collaborative effort to improve organizational performance” in the hospital.*
Please allow me to give you a personal example. Several years ago I developed a serious kidney stone. I thought I was dying. My son rushed me to Baylor Hospital in Garland, TX. They informed me that I had a large irregular shaped kidney stone. When I inquired about the expense of the treatment necessary the answer was $12,000.00! That kind of money wasn’t available in my personal banking account so I went to the VA Hospital in Dallas, expecting to receive “the best health care that America has to offer.”
Because of my extreme pain they administered an injection of pain medicine. Two minutes later another “nurse” entered the room to administer a second “pain shot.” When we asked what that shot was for, the nurse informed us “for pain.” “Ma’am, I was just given a pain shot two minutes ago.” “Well” she snapped, “you’ll be feeling really good then won’t you! When the necessary x-rays and tests were concluded they informed me that I would be put on a 2 1/2 month “Waiting list”! I asked if I was suppose to be at the top of the list because of my disability rating (which is 100%) and again I was informed rather quirtly “It will be a 2 ½ month wait. That would have been physically impossible. By that time I was experiencing excruciating pain. I could not wait. We had the surgery done at Baylor Medical Center. I was informed that I possibly would be “reimbursed by the VA”. It has been several years and we have yet to receive any “reimbursement”!
After that experience, we acquired secular medical insurance. It was obvious that myself nor any other American veteran could depend on the VA Hospital in Dallas, Texas for proper medical care.
Eight years ago I had 4 stents put in my heart at Baylor medical center. They gave me heavy doses of a very costly blood pressure medicine. It took several months to get it under control. Again, I turned to the VA Hospital for assistance in the high cost of this medicine. I was required to see a “heart specialist” at the VA hospital in Dallas. I was assigned to “Dr Root.” As I entered her office she made absolutely no acknowledgement as to my presence. There was no “hello” no greeting of any kind. After a long minute I asked her if she was feeling okay. She glared at me and replied “that is none of your business!” I then asked her if it was any of her business that I was a 100% disabled American veteran as the result of war-time injuries. She glared at me a second time and replied “I don’t care if you are 200% disabled”. Without saying another word to this fine “doctor” I rolled out of her office.
This is the best that America has to offer her Veterans?
Years ago when living in Illinois, I had a substantial amount of dental work performed. A private dentist did the work in Mt Vernon, IL and, to their credit, the local VA hospital paid for all of it. They had no qualified dentist to do the work I needed. Thirty years later that work had to be redone. I went to my personal dentist and was told the expense would be between $25000-$30000. Again, I could not afford that kind of out-of-pocket expense so I appealed to the VA hospital in Dallas. I attempted to get them to pay my personal dentist to have the work done. They refused stating that they had a dentist in residence that could do the work. After my examination I was informed that I needed two implants and a procedure called a sinus lift. They did the work. The “dentists” who performed the procedure were young men doing their “student work” with the ultimate goal of becoming private dentists. The implant procedure totally failed and caused me extended problems and multiple complications. The work they performed accomplished absolutely nothing!
They then began working on my crowns. To make a very long complicated story short–(for nearly a year I made repeated trips to the VA hospital to have the work completed). When they finished I still needed additional work done on my front teeth. I was forced to go to a private dentist and was informed that not one of the “crowns” the VA dentists had replaced was done correctly. At the present time I am still looking at $30,000 worth of dental work to be completed and setting again in a dentist’s chair for multiple hours.
Let me assure you this is not all of the stories that I could write about, neither am I the only veteran who has encountered this kind of arrogance and un-professionalism at the hands of a VA Hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, if the so-called government health care that this administration is currently proposing is to be administered like this–we don’t need or want it!
On behalf of our American Veterans, on behalf of honesty and integrity, please write or call your congressmen today! Encourage your friends and family to do the same. We must stop this legislation before it goes into effect!
Very kindly let them know that we do not want government forced health care.