VETERANS CORNER: Farming out veterans’ services is avoiding responsibility

Veterans Affairs Regional Benefit Office Togus, ME

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

As a Disabled American Veteran, Rotarian, and Knight of Rizal, I hear, see and speak about many things that address veteran issues but also people issues. It’s the information that folks like yourselves offer or query each day that brings about a formulated question for analysis. I personally believe that this is the greatest venue possible in searching for a common sense result. A situation always needs a result; even if the formation sought after is segmented.

So many of you have noticed in the media so much appreciation for the services of our military, police, fire department, etc.,however, from what I am hearing some if not most is just word of mouth. Some are asking, do our elected officials really care or is it just political lip service. I am 100 percent service connected disabled veteran and as many can tell you at VA, I do my best being part of the solutions to the woes of the VA’s short comings. I have a very deep affection for veterans mostly because I have been part of their trials and tribulations for some 40 plus years. One of the things I am trying to communicate is, nothing is too trivial to address and remedy. I hear reminiscence in so many of the conversations I have with my fellow veterans. Comments such as, “I remember when,” are a very common occurrence. Most of these are reflections of better times. Why is that I would like to ask our readers?

Today veterans are being given so much respect as are our police and firefighters. So many people are saying, “thank you for your service.” This definitely gives one a sometimes much needed morale boost; most people really mean it. This is also a great advertising tool. Many young men and women are being noticed to join the military. There are many positives for joining our armed forces, such as medical benefits, education, maturity and even self worth. For some it’s a way to achieve dreams through giving service. I have many issues with military as well as the VA system, however, I wouldn’t trade what the military and the VA system has given me. I am just an X soldier who likes to write and address issues that I and others feel need to be addressed. I will continue to do this until I cease to exist or the negatives are corrected.

Don’t pay me lip service unless your lips are moving towards a solution. Togus Veterans Administration was built in 1866, if my memory serves me well. It was the first and has the greatest history. We have historical cemeteries which even have “Buffalo Soldiers” buried there. We have art work and old buildings. Every inch of Togus VA has a story to tell. However, this narration is supposed to be about what we don’t have or don’t do. I have just waited until now to mention a few of the negatives that have been mentioned to me. I firmly believe that the leadership of the past has been very delusive in the way they describe the conditions of our veteran’s safe haven.

Now some veterans are being farmed/transferred out to the private sector as an escape from the responsibilities of the largest and oldest facility in our nation. Do you really think that it is cheaper or more efficient to farm out responsibility? Where does the money go that is allocated for the care of veterans? Why are we waiting months to be seen? Why are we not able to acquire more doctors and other professionals? There are some situations where farming is necessary but serious conditions need a home base. Severe medical problems require an advanced medical facility.

The regional director brags about all the money the local director will have at her discretion. It is strongly believed there is enough money but it is being used by unskilled hands. Look at the potholes in the roads and sidewalks. Look at the lack of treatment rooms for orthopedic, for example. How about the holes and broken slabs in the sidewalk. Which several veterans have had accidents; another great example is Neurology. This is a department badly, sorely needed right now as many of our veterans are from the Vietnam era. Most of these veterans are in their 70s. This is a time in life when bone, muscle and nerve conduction studies are very much in demand. Well, I hate to tell you, but we have some good doctors although not near enough. But they don’t have the equipment for their specialty. Equipment to perform EEG (Electroencephalogram) also EMG (Electromyography). We have the doctors but haven’t had the equipment for a very long time. So, farm it out at great cost. That is certainly the easy way for a 500-acre medical facility to be run. (Examine here, execute there).

I personally had a bad experience not too long ago in which I had a torn retina. The doctor at VA was more than capable to do the surgery necessary and gave it his best shot, however, at the very end of the surgery the doctor discovered that he didn’t have the tool to complete the last phase of the surgery. So, I was sent to Portland to repeat the surgery. Don’t take me wrong, out sourcing is not necessarily a bad thing in many cases and situations but certainly is not the least expensive and efficient way to doing things when you have an existing facility that could be second to none if we just put our leadership and money where they should be. Our system and the welfare of our veterans need to be looked at in a different way. It’s not what we see, it’s what we do.

God Bless all men and women in uniform, military and civilian. God Bless our wonderful country.


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1 reply
  1. Kenneth Blay
    Kenneth Blay says:

    Until the va hires actual physicians that are up to date with proper procedures I’d prefer to be outsourced. Four years ago I had a retinal detachment in my left eye and was sent to Boston va for surgery and as a result of scaring I lost vision in my eye. I recently started with the same issue with my right eye and was operated on in Portland and so far I can see… the biggest problem I see using the community care program is the staff at Togus aren’t trained properly in the procedures causing financial issues for the veteran…


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