The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Yes, Vets Are Dying—And Everyone Knew It!

May 26, 2014

After 40 veterans in Phoenix died waiting for treatment from the VA, the politicians have “discovered” that wait times at VA hospitals are extremely long and that hospital bureaucrats have been cooking the books to make wait times seem shorter. Obama announced that “If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it.” Republicans want to launch an “investigation.”

What lying hypocrites! For many years, veterans’ groups have been saying that wait times for care at VA hospitals are outrageously long, that the hospitals are understaffed, and that there aren’t enough services especially for soldiers suffering from brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In 2010, for instance, Iraq Veterans Against the War pointed out that “Because the military is desperate for warm bodies in the field, and the VA doesn’t have the resources to serve all those in need, too often service members are conveniently denied care....”

In 2012, the government’s own inspector general found that fewer than half of the veterans needing a full mental health exam got one within the required 14 days, and most waited about 50 days. All the while 22 veterans were committing suicide every day.

Back in 2007, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was closed after the Washington Post publicized its systematic neglect of patients. After that scandal broke, the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs promised to fix the problem and give veterans the care they were promised.

But of course, they didn’t fix the problem, which is that the politicians underfund the VA health care system so much that it cannot provide decent care.

Soldiers are promised free healthcare for life, but the reality is that the politicians want them only as temporary cannon fodder. From the perspective of the politicians and the corporations they serve, spending on health care for veterans is a waste, because the veterans have already played their role for U.S. imperialism. The enormous military budget which is dedicated to protecting the looting of the world carried out by US corporations has no room in it for veterans’ healthcare.