Someone very dear to me recently spent more than a week in the Phoenix Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center. He was scared to check in, but he had no choice.
This very important person in my life has spent most of his life battling the VA. First, he had his leg blown off by a rocket-propelled grenade; he took three other bullets to his torso; one bullet landed by his spine, and it remained there 45 years.
He has survived since July 1969. However horrid are his memories of that day in Vietnam, nothing has affected his health in a more detrimental way than the failure of the VA system. This does not include the nurses and nurses’ aides that are the kindest you will ever meet. This is the bureaucratic system that does not respond to requests for information and advice.
And for those who can’t get a response? The VA Secretary said, “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience? And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”
McDonald made those remarks during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast May 23. But Arizona Sen. John McCain did not let it go without a response.
McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called McDonald’s comment “outrageous and completely inappropriate,” especially since McDonald himself is an Army veteran.
“Our veterans aren’t in line for a theme park ride. They are in desperate need of timely access to quality medical treatment,” McCain said. “The VA secretary’s statement reflects a fundamental lack of understanding about the serious problems plaguing veterans’ health care.”
As much as I have admired McCain in the past for his service in Vietnam, I have lost respect for him because he, of all the senators in Washington, D.C., should have made veterans his top priority from the beginning of his political career. But, better now than never.
Thank you, Sen. McCain, for your remarks. Now, let’s see some action.