5/27/2014 1:48:00 PM Letter: VA problems not so apparent in Prescott, Cottonwood
While watching the inexcusable VA situation unfold, I have wondered how my own experience with the system compares with the average Phoenix-based veteran, since I am served by the Fort Whipple hospital in Prescott and the Cottonwood clinic. My overall experience has been positive.
The Cottonwood clinic provides me with excellent preventive care via two regular checkups a year - one extensive, including full blood work, and one less so - plus monitoring such problems as blood pressure and cholesterol. They provide a daily "Sick-Call" for more immediate problems. The two primary care physicians I have had have both expressed their satisfaction at being able to actually practice medicine without the headache of massive insurance paperwork.
They have been up-front with me when I have required treatment that they knew would require extensive delay to get treatment, such as two instances of torn rotator-cuff surgery or the need for a dermatologist to check for skin cancer. In my case I am luckier than younger vets and have Medicare as a fallback and I opted for quicker care at more expense to me.
On two different occasions I was hospitalized immediately at Prescott when using the emergency room. The VA's problems are obviously administrative, not their doctors and staff.
But no vet who has suffered injury in service of his country deserves to be shunted aside due to a lack of facilities or personnel. The VA has the ability to contract outside doctors and facilities when they cannot provide prompt service. It would come out of their budget, but that can be addressed by Congress with additional appropriations.
When our men and women enlist they sign a blank check, payable to the United States, for up to, and including, their life. It's reasonable for them to expect some gratitude for that sacrifice.