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Arizona's Noon News & Karie Dozer

Either fix the Veterans Administration or stop fighting wars

U.S. Army Pvt. John Stafinski fires his M-249 squad automatic weapon, during a three-hour gun battle, with insurgent fighters, in Waterpur Valley, at Kunar province, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2009. Stafinski is an infantryman, with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, out of Fort Carson, Colo. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew Moeller/Released)

The Phoenix Veterans Administration Health Care system is a mess.

On top of secret wait list allegations, as many as 40 patients, who served in the Armed Forces, died while awaiting care.

Phoenix isn't the only place affected. Whistleblowers, following Phoenix VA Dr. Sam Foote's example, are coming forward in many other cities and states detailing health care problems and cover-ups. Clearly it's a nationwide problem. This isn't a secret. The care has been horrible for years and nothing is ever done to fix it.

See, providing veterans health care is a social contract, an obligation.

This year, the Department of Defense will spend about $581 billion. In a separate budget, the Office of Veteran's Affairs has been allotted about one-tenth of that, $63 billion. The Phoenix VA's portion of that is around $500 million to care for 80,000 veterans.

This is that obligation: Take care of those who volunteer to serve in the United States military, whatever that cost may be. It is just simply not acceptable to blame the lack of resources, especially when the resources to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be endless. One study estimate between $4 and $6 trillion has been spent over the past 13 years between those two countries. If there are resources to fight the wars, there has to be the resources to take care of those who return after serving.

Thirty percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have been treated for some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That's just the number that has been treated. So many more haven't.

The bottom line is this: If this country asks for volunteer soldiers and promises them health care in return for their service, their care better improve. There better not be endless wait lists or veterans dying while waiting for care.

When this country sends soldiers to war, their health needs better be paid for upon their return. If the United States cannot meet those promises and obligations, it's certainly time to stop funding these endless wars. The United States soldiers should be thought of first. Not the wars.

About the Author


Rob spent his formative years growing up in Massachusetts, but after graduating from Emerson College in Boston, he's had the privilege of living in Florida, New Orleans and New Mexico. Rob & his wife Amy have lived in Phoenix since 2006 when he joined KTAR. Rob is passionate about our freedom and rights -- something he learned to love while growing up in the Boston area.

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