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Letter: Veterans don’t want VA hospitals to close

Veterans don’t want VA hospitals to close

A recent editorial suggested transferring medical care for veterans to the private sector. A Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa had a water main break, which resulted in veterans receiving medical care in the private sector at a much higher cost than provided by the VA. In another state, the VA hospital was asked to accommodate civilians due to a lack of hospital beds. All veterans opposed this move.

In 1998, Congress passed legislation allowing the VA to advertise its services. The VA increased veterans served from 3 million to 6 million in four years. Congress, however, did not provide funding to hire more staff, thus causing long waiting lines.

While the errors at the Buffalo VA are unconscionable, the private sector is not free from these mistakes. On two separate occasions, surgeons at a hospital in Florida operated on the wrong knee of two patients.

The current VA system provides veterans with the same bonding that they experienced in the military. It is a place where they can make friends, tell war stories to each other without being judged and receive treatment for both their physical and psychological wounds.

Having worked for the Buffalo VA for 31 years, 27 of which were in the mental health clinic treating World War II and Vietnam veterans, I have witnessed the awesome dedication provided by former veterans who are employed there.

Moving to the private sector would eliminate these jobs, which would not be a way of respecting their service. The various veterans organizations, such as Amvets, the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc., would certainly not approve of moving their medical care to the private sector. Ask a vet if he wants to move his medical care to the private sector!

Joseph W. Strychasz, LCSW


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