Since veterans issues are finally being discussed, let's look at what needs to be done:
The following is excerpted from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's (IAVA) extensive 2015 policy agenda. There's a lot to be done, and so far, none of the candidates have sufficient policy proposals to address these issues.
1. Continue to Combat Suicide Among Troops and Veterans
When it comes to veteran and troop suicide there can be no missesthe stakes are too high and our national responsibility is too great. That anyone who has worn our uniform concludes that they have no support and no alternative but suicide is a national crisis and disgrace. For nearly a decade, IAVA and the veterans community have long called for immediate action by our nations leaders to end this crisis. In that time we have lost too many friends, but there has been some progressmost notably the passage of the IAVA-led Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act of 2015. But there is still much work to be done. There can be no rest until every veteran and every service member has access to the best mental health care. Working with community groups, Congress and the Administration must lean the full force of the federal government into this problem to better identify and support those in crisis and dramatically improve access to and the quality of mental health care.
2. Fully Recognize and Improve Services for Women Veterans
Nearly 280,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the number of male veterans is expected to decline in the next five years, the women veteran population will increase, and women have taken on new roles and responsibilities throughout the services. Though the quality of care and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for all veterans needs to dramatically improve, women veterans especially need to see an improvement in the VAs standard of care. Not only do women veterans encounter barriers to care and benefits, they do so in a culture that often does not accept them or fully recognize them as veterans. The VA has made some progress providing care, access and benefits for women veterans, but Congress and the VA must work to change the underlying culture and proactively identify and close gaps in care for women veterans.
3. Reform the VA for Todays Veterans
The VA scandal of 2014 brought to light problems that veterans of all generations face in trying to get their hard earned benefits and care from the VA: a negligent log jam of claims and overdue health care. Much of the crisis was preventable and predictable and it is surely fixable; however, it will require the use of new, innovative solutions. The new Secretaries at the VA and Department of Defense (DoD) must be given the resources, authority and space to succeedwhile being held accountable. State-of-the-art solutions, like IAVAs The Wait We Carry (www.thewaitwecarry.org), which aggregates individual veterans reports on their care, can be a model for veteran outreach and accountability. At the very least, funding and key structures at the VA must be protected from short-sighted cuts and political posturing. This must be the year we all work together to create a dynamic, responsive, veteran-centric system set to meet every veterans needs for decades to come. Our military is the worlds most advanced; our care for our veterans must be the same.
4. Defend Veteran and Military Education Benefits
The Post-9/11 GI Bill has sent more than one million veterans to school. It has helped these veterans in their transition home but it has also trained Americas next greatest generation to lead in tech startups, Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofits and at every level of government across the country. Though wildly successful, the New GI Bill has been exploited by predators in the for-profit school sector who take advantage of veterans benefits and often leave veterans stuck with unnecessary debt and a subpar education. Congress must close loopholes that reward these bad actors for exploiting veterans and strengthen regulations that help veterans choose the best educational programs to meet their career goals.
This isn't a political football. This is life or death for us.
We reward specialists way too much, so most new doctors want to be specialists.
A restructure of our medical profession, removing some, not all, of the incentive to be a specialist, is one answer.
Side issues like wait times need to be addressed but don't force veterans to lose what is good about the VA
Once veterans actually get seen, the quality of care is consistently rated above the private sector.
There's actual policy needing to be discussed here. A tad more important than the horse race bullshit.