Murphy's Law: October 17, 2004


The wounded and injured veterans of the war on terror are colliding with the aging veterans of World War II and Korea, and the politics of the Veterans Administration (VA). All this is putting additional strain on a medical treatment system that is poorly organized, and politically resistant to change. The VA was always a political football, with money to build hospitals, clinics and administrative centers going to areas represented by the most powerful people in Congress. And once one of these places opened, you had a very hard time closing it. This means that there is tremendous political pressure to keep open VA facilities in areas where there are far fewer veterans than in the past (like large northern cities), and to build new facilities in areas where the veterans now are (retirement areas in the south.) Attempts to shut down the underused centers are attacked as anti-veteran. Getting money to build needed new facilities runs into accusations that the VA is bloated and inefficient. The unneeded facilities are cited as proof. Unneeded, and difficult (politically) to close military bases are one thing. All you lose is money. But the similar problems with the VA hurt the veterans who have already been hurt pretty bad. So while the politicians fiddle, the veterans suffer.


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