EVIDENCE OF DOZENS of U.S. veterans dying as they waited months for appointments and treatment are just the tip of the iceberg – and the real number of deaths could be in the thousands – according to a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who closely follows the issue.
Jessie Jane Duff spent 20 years in the Marines, rising to the rank of gunnery sergeant. She is now on the organizing committee at Concerned Veterans for America. While the government is essentially admitting to about 40 deaths in Phoenix due to long waits and dozens more facilities are under investigation, Duff said the real number of veteran deaths due to the VA bureaucracy in recent years is exponentially higher.
“Yes, I do estimate it’s in the thousands,” she said. “Let’s go to the backlog that they had. Fifty-three veterans died a day just waiting on their benefits in 2011. The VA itself has those numbers. We’re talking about egregious mismanagement, a culture of corruption that was allowing all these executives to give the impression that they had 14 days of waiting time, not months and months of waiting time, so they could get bonuses. So I expect it will be several hundred, if not thousands.”
Duff said another reason the numbers are likely to soar is because of systemic bureaucracy that grinds the system to a crawl. “In Albuquerque, N.M., veterans were waiting over four months with gangrene, heart disease, brain tumors. I didn’t even know you could wait that long with any of those predicaments. In Harlingen, Tex., in 2010, they decided that men had to come back with three screenings that came out positive before they could get in for a colonoscopy. By that time, it was a Stage Four cancer,” said Duff, who elaborated further on some of the red tape veterans are forced to navigate in Albuquerque. “It came out that they had eight cardiologists on staff. But only three would work a day, and they would see only two patients per day. I’m not sure if that was two patients per cardiologist or two total. Regardless, the report I read determined that they were seeing in a week what most medical facilities could see in two days,” she said.
“What disappoints me the most out of this is that it was deliberate. I used to think it was just mismanagement. I’ve been reporting on mismanagement for the past year. Now I realize it was all deliberate and it was all in the name of an almighty dollar,” she said. “I’m so shocked and saddened to know that executives at the highest level were training their employees to hide numbers, training their employees to make it look like veterans were only waiting 14 days.”
Duff said a final death count may prove difficult since many vets ultimately gave up on the VA system and sought care in the private sector. Duff said the most troubling aspect of this story is not just incompetent mismanagement but the blatant deceit perpetrated by VA officials around the nation.
Reprinted from World News Daily: http://onlinedigeditions.com/publication/?i=214566&p=11