The VA


"The Department has three main subdivisions, known as Administrations, each headed by an Undersecretary:

  • Veterans Health Administration (VHA): responsible for providing health care in all its forms, as well as for biomedical research (under the Office of Research and Development), Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), and Regional Medical Centers
  • Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA): responsible for initial veteran registration, eligibility determination, and five key lines of business (benefits and entitlements): Home Loan Guarantee, Insurance, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, Education (GI Bill), and Compensation & Pension
  • National Cemetery Administration: responsible for providing burial and memorial benefits, as well as for maintenance of VA cemeteries"  wiki


 A former member of any of the US armed services may qualify for some or all of the many benefits statutorily provided by the Department of Veteran's Affairs, a cabinet level agency that employs more than 300,000 people across the country.  Many of these benefits have nothing to do with medical treatment.  Mortgages on special terms, educational support under the GI Bill, burial in a VA cemetery, disability compensation or a pension for those who were made unemployable through service but somehow not entitled to a military retirement.

Nevertheless, the focus of criticism, perhaps unfairly, is on the Veteran's Health Administration (VHA) which is said to be slow in scheduling appointments, providing treatment and bureaucratically inept and rigid.

As I understand the system, VA medical treatment in one of their many facilities is intended to be treatment for ailments  that are service connected.  Ailments that were either caused by military service or aggravated by that service are what are legally treatable by the VA medical system.  In practice in some cases a wide variety of illnesses are judged to be service connected.

The system requires that former service members apply for benefits and that a judgment be made by a board as to whether or not the service declared and proven entitles the applicant to VA benefits, including medical treatment.   This award process is conducted by the Veterans' Benefit Administration (VBA), not the VHA.  After the award is made the beneficiary can ask for treatment by the VHA.

It seems to me that the present system is inevitably somewhat slow.  The VA medical system is designed to serve former rather than retired service members.  Retired military members are still cared for by services to which they still belong, although retired, as well as by "TRICARE for life."  Retired military people can use the VA medical services but the system is not really designed to take care of them.  The system does makes emergency treatment possible prior to an award of eligibility

Because the system is designed to care for 'formers" who are no longer service members, adjudications must be made as to eligibility and the nature of injuries.  This inevitably takes time as data must be collected from a wide variety of sources. 

The alternative seems to me would be to make unlimited medical treatment for all conditions available to anyone who ever served.  Do we really want to do that?

I will welcome posts on this by guest authors.  Others who are knowledgeable and wish to comment can send me their remarks and I may publish them.  pl

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