My alarm, which grew sentence by sentence, upon finding myself agreeing with Ruth Ann Dailey’s June 9 column (“A Nation’s Shame: Deserting Veterans in Need”), was relieved by her next-to-the-last paragraph where she asserts, “It’s time for our representatives — VA staffers, doctors and managers — to face the consequences of their actions.”
Surely she intended to say “It’s time for our representatives — Congress — to face the consequences of their actions.” Blaming VA doctors, nurses, staff and, for the most part, VA administrators for the unconscionable waits at VA clinics is as ridiculous as blaming teachers and school administrators for burdensome class sizes. Having provided VA clinic and ward care intermittently over many years, I can assure Ms. Dailey that overcrowded clinics are not new, but burdensome demands from Congress for shorter wait times and the influx of new veterans from our past decades of war, unaccompanied by adequate new resources, have worsened the situation.
Ms. Dailey seems to suggest a lynching party will make her feel better. I suggest the VA needs budget increases so adequate numbers of doctors and nurses can be hired to meet our nation’s obligations to our veterans. Generating the income for this purpose will require reversing some of the tax reductions put in place during the past 40 years of national stinginess. I can’t think of a more deserving reason for a tax increase.
The writer is a retired physician.