Why the VA is Broken
1. Incredibly long wait times – I got back from Afghanistan on 16SEP2012. I spent two days alone with my wife. No friends, no family, no phone calls, no e-mails. On the 19th of September, I made my calls to square away my medical appointments and my education benefits. Upon calling the VA Ann Arbor Hospital on 19SEP2012, I was told the wait time for Vision was right around 4 months: my appointment to have an eye exam and pick up a pair of glasses (between 3 and 5 minutes of work) would be in January some time. I committed to the date not knowing my schedule 4 months away (does anyone?). I remember planning a vacation with my wife and thinking, “Oh shit, my VA appointment.” I called and asked to reschedule and was given another date 5 months from my original appointment. Cut our vacation short or wait another 5 months (10 months total) to actually see the ophthalmologist.
2. General lack of medical professionalism & bedside manner – I’ve been receiving (or attempting to receive) care from the VA for the past 4 years. Never have I ever been seen on time. This is really fundamental – it sets patients up who have a sequence of appointments (often travelling from far away to do so) from making each subsequent appointment on time. It also really pisses off people who clear their schedule from work or school or family or all of the above in order to make an appointment, only to not be seen or to be seen hours afterwards. In 2010, I attempted to attend a vision appointment at 1100. The receptionist told me the department was running “about 5 hours behind.” I remember laughing hysterically and just leaving. I drove to America’s Best and paid $100 for an eye exam and two pairs of glasses, probably in less time than it took one person to be seen in the VA vision clinic.