The Veterans Administration has faced a lot of controversies recently due to substandard care and services, but news out of the Oklahoma City has reached an outrageous new low.
According to Fox News, a 73-year-old veteran, Owen Reese Peterson, was in the VA hospital in Oklahoma City for 21 days before succumbing to sepsis. Peterson was being treated for an open wound and had bandages that had not been changed for some time.
Peterson’s son, Raymie Parker said that he repeatedly “pled” with hospital staff, including senior medical personnel, to change his father’s bandages, but he “was met with a stonewall for much of that time.”
When Peterson’s bandages were finally changed, maggots had infested the wound. Peterson later died from sepsis, which occurs due to severe infection.
The VA medical center’s executive director in Talihina, Oklahoma, Myles Deering, said the maggots “were not the only contributing factor to his death” and that four employees have resigned over the incident.
— FOX59 News (@FOX59) December 6, 2016
Pete Hegseth, who served tours in Iraq and Afganistan, told Bill Hemmer on America’s Newsroom that part of the problem with the VA medical system stems from a lack of choice.
“Ultimately, veterans have to be empowered to be able to have a choice. Until they have that choice, they’re not treated like customers. And veterans should be customers of world-class service. It’s going to change when the culture changes, and the culture’s going to change when people are fired.”
Neglect and poor service have plagued the VA, and those in Washington agree that something needs to be done. President-elect Donald Trump is expected to make VA reform a top priority. According to his website, he intends to do just that. He has outlined a ten-point plan to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He will start by appointing a VA Secretary.
“The needs of D.C. bureaucrats will no longer be placed above those of our veterans,” his plan states.
The Secretary will oversee all of Veterans Affairs and report directly to the president.
He will also use his authority to remove and discipline any federal employees who have shown themselves to be at the root of the problem. No longer will lower-level employees be the only ones fired, while the upper management, charged with overseeing operations, remain unscathed. Trump will aim for those in charge. Deplorable conditions such as those faced by Owen Peterson and his family do not occur solely because of neglect from staff on the floor. He believes management is failing our veterans by not providing proper oversight and training in many instances.
President Trump will “ask that Congress pass legislation that empowers the Secretary of the VA to discipline or terminate any employee who has jeopardized the health, safety or well-being of a veteran.”
He plans to create a commission that will report to Congress on incidents of “fraud, cover-ups, and wrong-doing [sic],” so lawmakers can consider legislation to stem the corruption occurring within the Veterans Administration.
Although whistleblowers are already protected under federal law, Donald Trump’s plan includes measures to reassure and “guarantee” employees that their jobs will be protected if they come forward. He also intends to institute a 24-hour hotline at the White House dedicated to taking complaints of wrongdoing from veterans or VA employees. One common allegation against the VA is that veterans looking for help get ignored or stonewalled. Trump wants to make sure all complaints are heard and dealt with, even if they have to come directly to his desk.
— PoliticallyCorrect (@EEUU_Politic) July 28, 2016
Point seven in his plan states, “Stop giving bonuses to any VA employees who are wasting money, and start rewarding employees who seek to improve the VA’s service, cut waste, and save lives.”
A hospital that can run efficiently can ultimately provide better care, but for an administration that is so bogged down with patients, efficiently running the hospitals might no be enough. Veterans with mental health issues are a significant portion of VA medical concerns.
MilitaryTimes reports that veterans are 21 times more likely to commit suicide than civilians. As such, President-elect Trump wants to provide a way for veterans with possible mental health issues to receive care outside of VA facilities. This allowance will help to both provide vets support and treatment before they do something rash and alleviate some of the overcrowding and long wait times that have been reported at VA hospitals across the U.S.
In conjunction with providing mental health support outside of VA facilities, the president-elect would also like to allow veterans to seek general heath care outside of the administration.
“Ensure every veteran has the choice to seek care at the VA or at a private service provider of their own choice,” says the final point in his plan. “Under a Trump Administration, no veteran will die waiting for service.”
Dying in hospitals, VA run or otherwise, happens, and there is nothing that can change that. However, finding maggots in a bandaged wound and dying from sepsis while under any hospital’s care should never happen. Donald Trump proposed some good ideas for improving the health care provided by the Veterans Administration. Vets and their families are waiting anxiously to see if he follows through.
[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]