Veterans health
There are more than 22 million American veterans living today. Nearly 9 million of these former servicemembers are receiving health care from our Veterans Administration (VA). Studies show at least 20% of our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or clinical depression. However, it is estimated that at least half of those who are ill with these disorders do not seek treatment and are therefore not counted in these statistics. Another 19% of our war vets have traumatic brain injuries (TBI) while 7% are suffering from both PTSD and TBI. Alcohol abuse is reported in nearly 40% of all Iraq/Afghanistan veterans returning home. Much worse, active duty personnel are now more likely to die from suicide than combat. Not surprisingly, our VA has been unable to keep up with the increased demand for its services by so many injured during our record-breaking 12 years at war. At least half a million veterans have waited more than 125 days for the VA to take action on their claim applications, and about half that many have waited more than a year. It now averages about 177 days for the VA to look at a claim and another 657 days for it to process appeals. Last year, the media reported that at least 40 vets have died while awaiting care at the Phoenix Veterans Health Administration facilities. Investigators have found similar problems at several other VA medical centers. An internal VA audit found that more than 120,000 veterans have been left waiting or never received care. VA administrators have been accused of using duplicate sets of books to hide these deaths and delays from official statistics. Many of these administrators had previously received bonuses for making it appear vets were getting prompt care. Some say the fault for this situation lies not with VA administrators but with the Obama administration. They claim that offering bonuses to VA administrators to reduce wait times, but not funding more doctors, nurses and hospitals, put these administrators in an impossible situation. “Cooking the books” may have been their only option if they wished to remain employed. In a rare show of bipartisanship, we passed the much-needed Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014, intended to reduce long wait times, hire more doctors and nurses, and make it easier to fire senior VA executives.

Pending Legislation:
H.R.294 - Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act
S.471 - Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act of 2015

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Poll Opening Date
March 26, 2020
Poll Closing Date
April 1, 2020

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