Forrest Gump

The REAL victims of the VA scandal

Marissa (name changed), a bright social worker in her mid-20’s with the VA in Chicago was flushed with frustration, “You’ve obviously heard about the terrible job that we’re doing. I wonder if any of the people accusing us have ever been in here to see what’s going on.”

Before I took the plunge into health care, my only exposure to the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) was the scene in Forrest Gump with him eating ice cream after being shot in the buttocks.

These days, you’d have to live in Saddam Hussein’s hole to not know that a scandal rages on about patients dying in VA hospital waiting rooms while the staff falsified records to cover up the failures.

Public outrage fueled by media magnification resulted in firing the head of the VA, a bipartisan pointing match, and a slapdash spending bill that adds $50 billion in costs each year.
Yes, it’s terrible that people died and it’s unacceptable that the crimes were covered.

But I believe that the REAL victims of the scandal are the 280,000 good people who work at the VA.

The media and many of our elected officials portray them as incompetent, criminal bureaucrats.

What a load a BS.

While opening Oak Street Health clinics on the north, west, and south sides of Chicago, I’ve spoken with dozens of vets, social workers, and medical staff at the VA. I worked at the Stand Down for homeless vets and met with directors of Vet Centers where they provide psychological support to trauma survivors. I love that Oak Street Health provides easily accessible primary care for our older vets in close cooperation with the VA.

Without exception, the vets have been overwhelmingly positive about the quality of care and their access to services through the VA. The VA staff I’ve met are engaged, enthusiastic, and professional.

It’s tough for the VA workers to be their best when the world is throwing stones at them.
If you know someone who works at the VA, give them a high five and a word of appreciation. They deserve it.
And if you’re ever in Chicago, let me show you the front lines of the healthcare revolution.

Dick Signature 

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