Happy New Year! I hope one and all had a good holiday and were able to enjoy family and friends. As a rule, I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions, and the coming year will certainly be no exception. Instead, I would like to set some intentions for the next year and do my best to see them through.

One of my primary intentions is to pledge to myself to do everything in my power to continue to find ways I can serve my fellow veterans, especially those that are unemployed, homeless, without adequate healthcare and lacking a support system. There are so many veterans that have fallen through the proverbial cracks and have found themselves in very desperate and many times, life-threatening situations. Despite some strides being made in the VA healthcare system, there is still a lot of work to do and it will take a lot of concerted energy to get things in order.

I really hope that this year more progress will be made, and the problematic system is able to be reformed to reflect the needs of the millions of veterans that rely on the VA for their care. Unfortunately, there are still some remnants of corruption, some deeply embedded beauracrats that are the result of past administrations that need to be ferreted out once and for all.

Apparently, there still some high-powered people that continue to allow doctors and other healthcare personnel that are, at best, incompetent, and, at worst, downright corrupt, to keep their jobs by just reassigning them to another facility to continue their poor performance elsewhere. Though a few have been fired, there are still scores that have somehow dodged the bullet and continue to remain in the system for one reason or another. A total overhaul of the system needs to be completed immediately to correct the inadequacies and areas that are underserving our veterans.

Just a reminder, there are 22 veterans a day committing suicide, this alone is an indication that something is very wrong, and the situation requires some urgent attention. In the coming year we as citizens, need to contact our elected representatives and insist that veterans get the care and respect they deserve, and they are a priority before even considering any of the other popular social causes. If we can’t help our veterans, then it is a very sad statement about our sense of what is the right thing to do.

I have been in the VA health system since 1970, when I returned from Vietnam. I was still having problems with recurring infections and other complications due to being wounded in combat, but overall, my personal experience with the VA has been positive, especially here at the SAVAMC, however; I know experiences vary quite drastically sometimes, and many veterans still refuse to even begin the process of applying for benefits.

I still encourage veterans to seek out care that they have earned through their service. I am very grateful for the dedicated healthcare professionals that show their gratitude and respect for those of us that rely solely on them for our care.

As for me, I will continue to write articles regarding veterans and their issues this year and invite any comments or suggestions. You can personally email me at Wishing you all a happy New Year.



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