Filed under: Intelligence, Law, Military, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: Pvt. Bradley Manning, The Defense Department, The Veterans' Administration
The Veterans Administration scandal is heating up. General Eric Shinseki appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to give the typical bland administration response. The VA has always been committed to providing “high quality and timely” care to veterans —while noting that there were reports of “performance issues.” Well, yes.
The medical needs of veterans who have served their country honorably are falling victim to wait-list fraud in at least seven Veterans Administration facilities around the country. A VA social worker and employee representative in Chicago told CBS News that there were secret waiting lists designed to hide the fact that veterans were not receiving medical care that was timely, and sometimes no care at all.
In Phoenix close to 40 veterans may have died while waiting too long for colonoscopies and endoscopies that could have diagnosed their cancers while they were still treatable.
At the Cheyenne VA Medical Center, a Telehealth Coordinator described how patients were always listed as receiving appointments within a 14-day window no matter when the appointment was first requested nor how long the patient actually waited. At least 19 vets in Columbia S.C. and Augusta Ga., died in 2010 and 2010 waiting for appointments.
In the meantime, Private Bradley Manning, who was convicted of leaking national security secrets to the “anti-secrecy” website WikiLeaks. Manning has been diagnosed by military doctors with gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man’s body. Bradley has chosen to change his/her name legally to Chelsea, and asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman. The Pentagon is trying to help.
Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said: “No decision to transfer Pvt. Manning to a civilian detention facility has been made, and any such decision will, of course, properly balance the soldier’s medical needs with our obligation to ensure Pvt. Manning remains behind bars.”
High quality and timely care, and, um. “performance issues” indeed. How about “priority issues”as well.
ADDENDUM: Sec. Of Defense Chuck Hagel has announced that they are reconsidering hormone therapy for Manning at a time when they are sharply drawing down the Army. The VA is a different department, but at least somebody realizes that this looks bad just now.
ADDENDUM II: 5/16 , According to Breitbart: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has formally approved the request of
Pvt. Bradley Manning, convicted for leaking 750,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, to be temporarily transferred out of military custody in order to undergo expensive hormone therapy and surgery to become a transgendered woman. Manning’s taxpayer funded request to change his name from Bradley to Chelsea was approved last month by a Kansas court. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby denies the claim, saying no decision has been made. We will get answers eventually.
In the meantime, the VA scandal is unfolding. Secretary Shinseki dramatically fired the head of hospital operations, but the gentleman was planning to retire this summer anyway. Obama has nominated someone who was in charge of another hospital where veterans died while awaiting treatment. The ability to cover up unpleasant facts is still limited. We will get answers eventually.
Filed under: Health Care, Military, Politics | Tags: President Obama, The Death Book, The Veterans' Administration
Last year, the bureaucrats at the Veterans’ Administrations National Center for Ethics in Health Care recommended a 52-page end-of-life planning document, “Your Life, Your Choices.” It was published first in 1997 and later promoted as the VA’s preferred living will throughout the vast network of hospitals and nursing homes in the Veterans Administration system. After the Bush Administration saw just how this document was treating very complex moral and health issues, the VA suspended its use. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the VA has now returned the booklet to use.
The author is Dr. Robert Pearlman, the chief of ethics evaluation for the center, who according to the Wall Street Journal, advocated for physician -assisted suicide before the Supreme Court in 1966 in Vacco v.Quill, and who is known for his support of health-care rationing.
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The booklet presents end-of-life-choices in a way that leads to predetermined conclusions. A worksheet lists scenarios and asks readers to decide just when their own life would “not be worth living.” One asks “Have you ever heard anyone say, “If I’m a vegetable, pull the plug?” There are also such scenarios as “I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family” or my situation “causes severe emotional burden for my family.”
Is it the job of the government to steer vulnerable individuals to conclude that life is not worth living? You don’t have to have official “Death Panels” to cut down on end-of-life medical costs. If President Obama doesn’t understand Americans rejection of his health care plans, he has only to look at the way his Veterans’ Administration is treating those in its care.
America owes a vast debt to her veterans. We need to make sure that no veteran is ever treated as a burden, but only with the honor and care that is their due.