On June 24, VA union workers, Veterans for Peace, military members and veterans and supporters held a rally at the VA Madison Main hospital on Highland Avenue: We say no to privatization, and we say VA employees deserve rights, a fair contract and good faith bargaining.
We are determined to protect our VA healthcare, educate those around us as to the situation and expose what is not being stated in the mainstream, corporate media (which is almost entirely owned by six massive multi-national corporations.)
We demand that the so-called “Veteran Community Care Program”:
- Have a separate budget because if they meet the goals for private care, the entire budget will be eaten up and then some. (They seek to spend all the money and dismantle our VA.)
- Require all private sector personnel and facilities meet the same high standards that the VA meets.
- Be redesigned so that elected representatives, veterans organizations and veterans are all involved.
The private sector cannot offer the specialized care that veterans need, but the privatizers don’t care. VA personnel have the skills and ability to deal successfully with post traumatic stress and the damage from depleted uranium. The VA is the best place to get help with exposure to agent orange and exposure to burn pits. The VA has the most specialized care and experience to deal with Gulf War Illness.
As Vietnam veteran and VHA patient Skip Delano points out:
“the private sector healthcare system does not have the capability or the capacity to meet the needs of veterans. They will be sent to providers who may know little or nothing about their special problems and may fail to diagnose critical conditions like PTSD, Agent Orange, or burn-pit exposure, or military sexual trauma, to name only a few.”
The next major demand on the horizon is poisoning from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) The government and big business have been hiding the effects that they found years ago.
First, veterans were hit with the massive privatization program called Veterans Choice, passed by the Republican Congress in 2014 and signed by President Barack Obama. But 70 House Democrats thought the Choice program was not the way to improve the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ veteran healthcare. They voted “no.”
The second punch was President Donald Trump hitting unionized VA workers with a “bad faith” proposed bargaining contract to replace the present contract covering 260,000 VA workers. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union members make up more than half of the VA’s 460,000 workers, and one-third are veterans.
VA management’s proposed labor contract guts worker rights and prevents medical staff from reporting serious medical errors or threats. Trump proposes that a disciplined worker would be prohibited from filing a grievance against an unjust disciplinary action.
Purchased politicians have also been busy working to undermine any workers who have bargaining power left. The billionaires like to have slaves instead of negotiations. You can see that in many years of Koch money and where it is spent.
“Members of Congress weighed in on the contract negotiations between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government Employees June 5, calling on the agency to improve what they say are “anti-labor policies” outlined in the new contract…”
You have to ask yourself, “Why?” Cui bono?
I think that it is obvious, like most everything else, certain politicians seek to make the rich richer by taking from the rest of us. That seems to be how the politicians line their pockets.
The profiteers and their puppets seek to privatize our health care for the same reason they want to privatize the schools, the Post Office, the prisons, utilities and other assets that belong to Americans: they want to take our assets and they want to take them at the lowest possible prices.
I’m not letting go of what is mine so that some billionaires and some politicians can get richer.
If and when, privatization is accomplished, veterans will not get endless care. There will be vouchers or similar methods to limit care, much more so than today. It will become more and more about balancing budgets. It will become the same debate that they like to have with safety net programs. “We can’t afford this.” It’s a game called ‘starve the beast.’ Which is just an extension of the rich getting richer while the rest suffer.
For those who still want private care, fine, but don’t destroy our VA in order to get your care. The VA has had ways of getting private care for veterans when needed, all along.
Study after study has shown that VA care is rated better than private care. At this point, the wait times are shorter at the VA than in the private sector. The VA system is better, why not fix the problems in the system and expand it? The VA would be even better with more staff, nurses, doctors, clinics, hospitals.
- Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute: background on the changes to the VA
- Save Our VA page on the Veterans for Peace National website
- VFP Working Group – Save Our VA – Please join us
Contact Coordinator Skip Delano at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved
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Privatization, like that promoted through the new Mission Act, will be devastating to us veterans in the end. The powers that be are baiting veterans with offers of whatever care they like in the private market. But when the privatization is done, those of who are not wealthy will be up a creek. They mean to use up the funding for the VA with this private care, and as they replace VA care… they are eliminating those services at the VA.
To help veterans, please contact your U.S. senators and representative. Just say, “Stop privatizing the VA — fix, fund and staff it, and fill the 50,000 VA vacancies.” The politicians on the right can’t seem to come up with a healthcare plan that would solve the mess that is private insurance in the US, but they are determined to destroy the VA healthcare system that many of us veterans depend upon.