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Fix, fund and fully staff the VA

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Veterans For Peace joined Indivisible Auburn July 20 to display large banners to east-bound I-80 traffic with the messages:  "Save our VA" and "Vets say no to privatization.”

Of us veterans using the VA health care, 80 percent want Congress to fix, fund and fully staff the VA, not privatize it. We want people to know that the Koch brothers and Trump want to profit from veterans health care since it is one of the largest budget items in the federal government.  If they succeed it will cost taxpayers 30 percent more and provide inferior care for our nation's veterans. Another motive for privatization is that VA hospitals are located on choice real estate in most major cities. Ultimately they will be sold to developers if we don't elect people to government who value veterans health over profit.  A recent Rand study shows that the VA provides equal or better care in all categories measured, compared to the private

for-profit industry.  This is in spite of congress under funding the VA for decades.  

That gave them an excuse to divert money to the "Veterans Care" and "Community Care" programs, instead of providing the resources for the VA to catch up.  Quality of care in these private programs has never been assessed,but wait times are often longer than at VA. The increase in vets using VA health care has outpaced the increase in funding since 9/11.

There are now 35,000 medical and 15,000 non-medical positions vacant in the VA.  If Congress would only fill these vacancies and provide the funds to catch up on deferred maintenance and expanding facilities, the private programs would rarely be needed.  Occasional referrals to the private sector is sometimes beneficial to the veteran and should continue on a case by case basis.

Carroll Nast of Coflax