There have been enough horror stories from the VA system and it is time to make hard decisions and become accountable.
A new report surfaced today of a veteran who passed away at a VA healthcare facility in St. Petersburg, Florida, and attendees at the facility allegedly left the body in a hallway, and later in a shower room, unattended for as much as nine hours.
A later investigation criticized the employees and the facility for not only making the mistake of leaving the veteran’s remains lying around, but later trying to cover up the mistake, by falsifying documents and blaming their incompetence on a communication breakdown.
The investigators also found the staff tried to cite under-staffing and under-funding as the cause of the error, along with an unclear understanding of who was in charge at the facility.
This incident alone is alarming, but it is one of a continuing saga of mistreatment of patients at government-run VA facilities across the nation. Just last week an incident of a veteran in a facility that had maggots growing in his wound made the rounds of the news cycles.
Reports of patients dying while waiting to get an appointment to see a VA physician have been going around for a few years now, and despite claims that the government is planning to improve the system, these types of stories continue to pop up at an alarming rate.
I fully understand about under-funding and lack of proper staffing, but this incidence in not one of just falling through the cracks. This was a human being, someone’s son or daughter, possibly someone’s husband or wife, father or mother. How can anyone not respect the life that just passed enough to store the remains in a shower room and walk away, without making sure the body was not being handled with respect?
How many walked by this veteran, lying dead in a hallway, and regarded it as an inconvenience, or a parcel to be dealt with later?
I don’t know if this particular veteran fought in any of the nation’s combats arenas, or if they just served stateside for their entire military career, but, regardless of how you feel about war and the military, this person was just doing their job, and making sacrifices for their country, and us as its citizens.
According to reports, the VA facility in St. Petersburg plans to retrain their staff and improve their systems. That is well and good with regard to the incident, but the same reports say no one at the facility lost their job as a result of the incident, and more amazingly, the cover up.
This means the same callous and careless people who allowed this veteran’s remains to begin to decompose in a shower room will undertake a few HR classes, and return to their same position without any penalty for their heinous actions. And the officials who tried to cover up the issue face no repercussions as well.
This veteran deserved better. Any human being deserved better, all the way down to the lowest individuals in the human race, but a veteran, who may have risked his life for our nation, deserves the respect of all.
The VA has thousands of hard-working conscientious employees and officials, but as in the case of most government-involved agencies, there is inefficiency and corruption that must be dealt with immediately, and those found negligent or incompetent must be removed from the system. There is no room for bureaucracy and inefficiencies when it comes to health care for those who served.
We owe our veterans that much.