Is the VA Out of Its Depths?

June 3, 2014 - 12:01 PM

The past couple of weekends, some of the shows we've been doing have involved veteran's groups and families and, as always, I was much honored to be in their company.

For the most part, they're a breed apart from the general public, these men and women who have stared death in the face in the many strange and foreign lands their country has sent them to in the cause of freedom. They maintain a maturity and a wisdom not shared by those of us who have not stood toe-to-toe with an enemy who is bent on destroying us.

They have a cut-to-the-chase, no-nonsense attitude when it comes to the defense of America and the treatment of those who return from our wars with needs that only they can understand.

The problems in the Veterans Administration run much deeper than what I fear are the cosmetic skim of the surface Band-Aids the president is attempting to apply.

Talk to almost any vet who has had a long-term illness and need for serious treatment and you'll find that many of them have been shuffled around and even denied the treatment they need due to some "non-war related" technicality the bureaucrats can find to hide behind

The truth of the matter is that these people are veterans who have served their country, they are sick, and whether the problem is war-related or not, they need medical attention - and, if anybody deserves it, they do.

Our veterans deal with surly, impatient personnel at a lot of the facilities and the waiting lists to see specialists is such that the disease or malady they're suffering from could well kill them before they ever make it to the front of the line.

A clear and present and, unfortunately, expanding problem among our veterans is suicide. It's happening at a horrible rate - especially among recent returning veterans - and it's a problem that is extremely difficult to deal with since it takes specialized knowledge.

The VA is slow to react to this problem and one has to wonder if they aren't out of their depths in trying to deal with it, yet the Powers-That-Be in Washington recently turned down a proven system of suicide prevention. A system developed for the prevention of teenage suicide by an organization known as the Jason Foundation.

But, the same methods applied to troubled veterans works just as well.

The process is simple and easy to apply, an app that goes on a smart phone where a touch will put an at-risk vet into a private conversation with a professional health care specialist with the ability to deal with the situation and talk a confused, in-danger vet down off the thin ledge they're walking.

When Major General Max Haston, Adjutant General for the State of Tennessee who was heartbroken about the number of his returning National Guard troops who were committing suicide, heard about the program, he jumped on it. He secured the financing and the State of Tennessee set out to see how the program worked.

The truth of the matter is that it worked very well.

As of a short while ago, there had been 64 interventions in Tennessee alone, even though the program had only recently been introduced.

Imagine what the Guard Your Buddy program could accomplish if it were instituted in all fifty states, how many lives could be saved.

I happen to know for a fact that several concerned private citizens scheduled a meeting with the brass at the Pentagon and offered the program nationwide for around five million dollars.

The response was tepid: they were told that more data needed to be gathered and one general remarked that we had to "toughen up" our troops some more.

That is the frustration of dealing with bureaucracy: it never seems ready to deal head-on with a problem

How much more "data" needs to be gathered to know that the suicide problem among veterans is an epidemic and needs to be dealt with immediately?

How much "tougher" can you possibly make men and women who have experienced things that haunt them to the point they feel like they have to end it all?

The Pentagon throws five million dollars away without batting an eye and, yet, they can't find five million to institute a proven method of saving the lives of the people we owe the most.

A Band-Aid ain't gonna do it, Mr. Obama, Rip it apart, cut out the rot, and appoint leaders for their ability, not their political affiliation.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops and the peace of Jerusalem

God Bless America

Charlie Daniels