Recent allegations and whistle-blowing revelations pertaining to the treatment or lack thereof for our veterans seeking care at various Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the nation are shameful. This uncompassionate culture of deception must be surgically cut out of VA operations. I can identify with the loved ones of the victims.
My uncle was one of the 22 veterans infected by the Legionella bacteria at Pittsburgh VA facilities between February 2011 and November 2012. Initially we were told that he must have been infected at the apartment complex where he had lived for more than 10 years. We were sternly advised by a VA representative that she was “not a plumber” and that we needed to get professionals to investigate the matter ourselves.
My uncle was a proud U.S. Navy World War II veteran. I can remember him saying to me with confidence that “when I get too old and too sick to take care of myself, the VA will take care of me.” All veterans deserve validation of my uncle’s belief.
Congress and President Barack Obama have not been able to join together and address many issues. This is one issue that could produce cooperation. President Obama can create an enduring and proud legacy for himself by leading the national government to build a VA that truly has a care-centered mission — a mission that is committed to respecting, honoring and appreciating our veterans. And if in order to diminish the backlog of veterans’ requests for service and care it is necessary to keep the lights on at VA administrative offices 24 hours a day, let’s do it!
HARRY JAMES FORD