Nuclear Deterrence and the VA

September 23, 2014

Veterans aren’t receiving the care they deserve, says this radiologist.

When the Russians got the bomb, the United States needed to develop a nuclear deterrent policy for our military. Thanks to captured German scientists, the United States and the Soviet Union developed intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons and death on an unimaginable scale to any point on the Earth. It was a mad time, in the sense of the doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction.” Massive destruction is something government is good at.

At the same time American technology created a super stealthy delivery system in the form of nuclear submarines. In fact, the silent service was so capable; no other system of deterrence was  needed. But that is not how the military, or the government, operates. The Army and Air Force couldn’t tolerate the Navy being the only service with nukes. No, sir.

Thus the tri-lateral, deterrent strategy was born and the arms race begun. In truth, our military was competing in an arms race amongst itself as much as with the Russians. This is the way our military and our government thinks. For example, each branch of service has its own medical corps with triplication of every aspect of the military health care system save one - the military medical school, the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences or USUHS (or “Useless” as we called it at Bethesda). USUHS did show that collaboration and pooling of resources in the military was possible and led to speculation on whether there would ever be a single military medical corps or “purple” suit (combining all the colors of the uniforms). Don’t hold your breath.

So to government minds the idea of another separate health care delivery system for veterans and their families, aka the VA, makes perfect sense. There is the added bonus of members of Congress being able to bring home the pork to their districts in the form of VA hospitals and jobs. Never mind that the hospitals may be inconveniently located, inefficient, riddled by bureaucratic incompetence and, on occasion, fraudulent administration as has been documented in the media recently.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"27921","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_1017243771348","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"2788","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"line-height: 1.538em; height: 227px; width: 166px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":" ","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Considering the cost of all this duplication of health care systems and the innate inefficiency and waste of the government as it attempts to do anything, would it not make more sense to do away with the VA and reimburse local hospitals for caring for our veterans?  Our veterans deserve the best care available as a down payment on a debt that can never be fully repaid. Having worked in a VA, I’m not sure that that is currently the case. In the same sense, paying for military medical students to attend existing medical schools would undoubtedly cost the taxpayer less. I’m pretty sure “sense” and “government” should never be used in the same sentence.

With government running amuck as it currently appears to be, I suppose we should be grateful that there isn’t a VA Health System for each branch of the service. I hope no one in government reads this because I don’t want to give them any ideas.