Veterans Administration Scandal Over Critical Health Care Delays Began with Decade of U.S. Wars

Posted May 28, 2014

MP3 Interview with Michael McPhearson, interim executive director with Veterans for Peace, conducted by Scott Harris


The scandal at the Veterans Administration has been building for some time. Over the past two to three years, the VA has seen an increase of 1.5 million patients, 200,000 of them soldiers returning from American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Across the country, the Pentagon’s health care system has found it difficult to treat the flood of veterans suffering from both physical injuries, including amputees, and those suffering with traumatic brain injuries, requiring intensive care.

The current media spotlight on the VA has focused on 40 veterans who reportedly died while waiting for care in Arizona and allegations that secret lists were kept to avoid accountability for thousands of vets who sometimes waited months to get an appointment, tests or treatment. Sam Foote, a retired doctor of internal medicine at the Phoenix VA exposed the scandal when he gave an Arizona Republic reporter details about the secret waiting lists and vets who had died.

There’s bipartisan anger in Washington that veterans aren’t getting the treatment they deserve – prompting many Republicans to demand the firing of President Obama’s Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. But while it’s apparent that parts of the VA system are broken, requiring aggressive oversight and repair – it’s also clear that some politicians are exploiting the scandal for political gain. Democrats have charged that many Republicans are hypocrites on veterans issues, pointing out that 41 GOP senators blocked a vote on a landmark veterans appropriations bill in February. That legislation, sponsored by Vermont’s Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders that would have provided funds to improve and expand health and dental care, establish 27 new clinics and medical facilities and support education and employment programs. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Michael McPhearson, interim executive director with Veterans for Peace, who talks about the current Veterans Administration healthcare scandal and the real cost of U.S. wars.

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