Look out VA… here I come!

It’s time I had my say about the VA. And I don’t want to hear from anyone about how I don’t know what I’m talking about since I never wore a uniform.

Just so those who would say it: both my father and my step-father and his wife served in the military, my grandfather and my great grandfather served in the military, and my own son served in the military.

I spent hours driving my father back and forth from my home to his home to the VA hospital where his wife of some 30 years lie in a bed on a vent.  This went on for weeks as she had to go back in for surgery as her sternum became infected after her 2nd bypass and heart valve repair at 74 yrs old.  So now she cannot be rolled very far either way. So guess what she ends up with?  Mind you, she’s an insulin diabetic… if you guess, a pressure ulcer, you guess right!  (Pressure ulcer is the technical term for bed sore)

After this surgery, and the fact that they couldn’t get her off the vent, they decided that she wasn’t sick enough to stay in their ICU but couldn’t go to the floor on the vent so they dumped her in a glorified nursing home that takes VA patients on vents.  When I say dumped, I mean it.  They claimed that someone signed off on it but no one did.  And there were witnesses in the room!  The VA didn’t want to pay for her anymore.

So, in this new ‘hospital’ my dad thought it was, my step-mother tried to pull her tubing out so they put her in soft restraints.  He saw that and demanded they remove them.

The next day she fell out of bed on the floor and I got angry.  I asked why there wasn’t a bed alarm on her bed.  So they brought in pads and a low boy bed.  A broken hip wouldn’t help her.  I personally think she was trying to die as she didn’t want to live like this as she asked me with her eyes and I couldn’t answer but to read a verse from the bible to her to hope to give her peace.

My drives back and forth were back when gas was almost $5 a gallon but I was doing whatever I could to help my dad.  We didn’t have much of a relationship.  We fought often on the rides home as he blamed the doctor that did the initial surgery.  I had to remind him that his wife had to have signed off on it.  He didn’t take her in kicking and screaming.  It just didn’t turn out the way they had expected.

So for a couple of weeks I would drive to his home, drive him to the new ‘hospital’ and he would ask everyone in scrubs how she was doing and everyone would want to give him hope.  But he was asking the wrong people.  There was a chart on the wall that showed the color of the scrubs as to the department they worked.  So he was asking housekeeping, CNA’s, anyone but the actual doctor that could give him the answer.  So finally, I asked the doctor, privately, to please tell him the truth.  I ended up having this doctor several times as a hospitalist at another hospitalist and his is very compassionate.   So when my dad asked him, “so how’s she doing today, doc?”   The doctor asked him, “Do you want me to tell you what you want to hear or do you want me to tell you the truth?”  My dad got a bit agitated but said, “The truth.”  The doctor said, “She is dying.  We can continue what we are or we can make her comfortable so she can pass peacefully.”  I had been trying to tell my dad this but he would yell at me that I didn’t know sh!t.  He made the right decision and let them just keep her comfortable and she passed just passed midnight into the next day.

Now, the VA.  They refused to pay for that bill.  My dad had to go through so much trouble and then involve our Congressman Paul Ryan who got involved and suddenly the VA paid the bill in full.

I took my father to several appointments after that.  They wait in line.  So we would chat with the men on either side of us.  Some of them had been up since dawn to catch the VA bus that picks people up on the way down from the upper part of the state and brings them to Milwaukee.  They try to get as many of their appointments done while they are there before the bus leaves for the day and they have to take that ride back up to wherever it is they live in upper Wisconsin.  My father lives within driving distance for appointments but not for emergencies.  When he fell and shattered his hip, 9-1-1 was call and he was taken to the nearest hospital which is standard protocol.  He was in surgery for 11 hours as the orthopedic surgeon tried to put his femur head back together as best as he could.  He was there for about 8 days and then sent to “rehab” which is code for nursing home.  He was there for 108 days.  (I know because he tells me every time I see him.)  The VA won’t pay for the hospital bills but the rehab is covered.  So now he has this huge hospital bill that he has no way to pay.

Lt. Col. Oliver North offered the best suggestion I’ve heard yet.  He said get rid of anyone that isn’t a vet working inside a VA facility and give the jobs to veterans.  There are a lot of veterans out of work who would love to be doing the jobs they do well as they were trained to do.  And vets take care of their own.  Then he said that some should be offered a RED card, and WHITE card, and a BLUE card depending on ones health needs so that can just show that at any private facility and the VA will pay for it.  Kudos to Lt. Col. Oliver North for having a ready answer immediately when the story broke!

Throwing more money at the problem never fixes the problem.  It never has; no matter the problem.  What needs to happen is getting rid of the upper greedy bonus getters, and charges them for theft!  Then put in honorable retired veterans who are willing to administrate and they would never expect a bonus for doing their job.  They are veterans.  Veterans do their job, they do what is expected of them because that is what is expected.  They are honorable, full of integrity, and would do a much better job than any civilian has ever done.

Can I get a Hooah? (My son was Army… sorry to the other branches!  I support you all!)


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