I am so NOT fond of the Veterans Administration System as a whole and the reasons for this is not subject matter for this blog.
Even so, I wanted to take the time to thank a few VA employees who are very special. Veteran's Day is tomorrow and although they may have never served on active military duty (Guard or Reserve), there are people who have still served along side of us. They are the forgotten ones who patch us up. They are the ones who care enough to come in early just so they can go over their patients records, trying to get an feel for the specific needs of those veterans that they'll see that day. They are ones who do their absolute best for their patients with what equipment, supplies and manpower they are given. There may be a lot of hoopla about the increase in VA funding, but believe me, it is NOT reaching the rural Veteran's Administration's facilities as far as I can see. Despite what looks like the decreasing aid given to these facilities, there are employees who could easily be working elsewhere, even in this poor economy, and for a lot more money, but still they stay. They stay and work hard, doing so much more, with so much less.
Within the four VA medical facilities that I have been to, there are departments that clearly don't have the staff required to serve all the veterans in need of their services and far too often they don't have backup relief staff. Do you know what backup is? Backup is that part of planning where you have a Plan B in case Plan A becomes a
Goat [please fill in the blank] or a Cluster [please fill in the blank] something goes wrong. Backup is the part of planning where common sense and experience have taught you that things WILL go wrong at the absolute worst moment. Backup is what makes the difference between effective and useless. Backup is the safety net that ensures Veterans get the help they need when they need it. Not three months later while waiting for an open appointment. The help they paid for with the blood and lives of their fellow service members and their own. The help their families paid for with a list of sacrifices too long to list. Backup is not a category on some ledger sheet that is expendable.
Do you know what preventative care is? It's that part of planning that provides care to prevent a situation from requiring intensive and extensive care. This is common sense that even number crunchers should be able to understand. Veterans are not the only ones who feel anger and frustration when the reason they are unable to be seen and supplied assistance for common medical problems, much less with preventative care, is bureaucracy. I can't imagine how much those professionals who patch us up, at least the ones who really care, feel anger and frustration by their own inability to give the care they know they can provide, the care they believe Veterans deserve enough for them to stay, despite these conditions.
To those professionals in general of whom I speak and my own VA providers, I thank you and assure you that you DO make a difference every day. I have seen you try to squeeze just one more patient into an already overfilled daily schedule. I have seen you come in early, go home late and honor every Veteran with your dedicated service.To the staff at my VA Dental Clinic [you know who you are] - I want to thank all of you on staff for not only all the times you all go that extra mile I know you are not required to, simply because you really care. I wanted you to know you have made a difference even if you don't ever hear of our appreciation or see the long term results of all you do. Your humbleness about it does not change the fact that I know you do all this and more. I have sat and watched you for almost a decade now. Every time I go into your office, I see one less face that used to be there with no one to replace them. I can't imagine how you not only continue to serve the ever increasing number of Veterans that walk through your door, but you do it with a smile, positive attitude and without complaint, never telling those patients of the cost you pay in frustration.Thank you for your service. You give me hope for the Veterans Administration.