I am a service-connected disabled veteran. This is not a new development, but one that I have had for the past two decades. I decided to write this letter in the hope that I could bring light to a dark subject involving the perils of government managed healthcare, from the perspective of an individual's personal experience in the system. I know my story is not the only one.

I suffered multiple injuries during my time in service within the United States Armed Forces. I entered the government-managed Veterans Administration healthcare system (VA) shortly after being honorably discharged. After several years of disputes with the VA, I was finally awarded a 30% service-connected disability for multiple injuries (including multiple 0% awards.)

My care in the government-managed VA healthcare system for much of the past 20 years has been pitiful. I was misdiagnosed from the time I entered the system by more than one provider, and that misdiagnosis and following maltreatment was perpetuated for many years, which caused great pain and deterioration of my conditions. At one point I was able to obtain private group healthcare insurance through an employer and started seeing medical specialists using my own money with support from the private insurance. Within a week, I was properly diagnosed through competent private medical care providers. Corrective surgery was what I needed to alleviate some of my symptoms, yet the years of improper diagnosis by the government-managed VA healthcare providers had led to more severe and irreversible damage to my body.

Shortly after my proper diagnosis, I lost my job and insurance. At this point, I took the evidence of my correct diagnosis back to the VA in order to receive proper treatment. The VA would not accept any of the private data I had accumulated documenting my actual medical problems. Not only would they not accept it, they would not even look at any of it. I could see that I was going to continue to receive inadequate medical attention from the government-managed VA healthcare system. I lodged a formal complaint and I was assigned a new doctor (for the sixth time.)

This new doctor took the time to actually listen to what I had to say and scheduled several evaluations. Two weeks later I was on the operating table for corrective surgery. Though the surgery was a failure (due mostly to the early misdiagnosis and subsequent deterioration), it was acknowledgement of my actual condition and disabilities, or so I thought. After multiple visits to many more government-managed VA healthcare personnel, all offering zero solutions, I stopped participating in the government-managed VA healthcare system. Several years after my surgery I received a letter from the VA indicating that they intended to cancel my benefits entirely, and that they were of the belief that I did not have any medical issues that warranted service-connected status.

Even though I had corrective surgery for a specific diagnosed service-connected injury, my government-managed VA records were still indicating the original misdiagnosis from many years prior. This started an expensive round of legal consultations and letters to the VA where I provided many pounds and pages of evidence of my disabilities, improperly documented VA provided corrective surgery and follow-ups, and proof of their overall incompetence, both medically and administratively. Within a few months the VA reversed their findings, acknowledged my true injuries, and awarded a 50% service-connected rating.

At the behest of my legal advisors, I diligently returned to my closest government-managed VA facility every six months in order to continually be mishandled by what appeared to be incompetent medical staff. During one of my regular visits to the government-managed VA medical facility, where I fully expected, as usual, to again be sent packing with no relief, and a request to return in six months for more of the same, I was greeted with a new medical advisor. Apparently my old one had retired at some point between my previous visit and this one, but I was not notified of the change.

It was this visit with my new medical advisor where I learned the most about the government-managed VA healthcare system. It seems that you get assigned whatever doctor is available, regardless of your ailment, and that many of the providers are Physicians Assistants, not actual doctors. (Have an eye problem? You might be assigned a foot doctor. Have a broken spine? Your primary care physician (who is but a PA) will look at it. You will be certain to leave with a prescription for 800mg Ibuprofen and a follow up in six months. Condescending? Yes. Truthful? Yes.) In this case, I got lucky…really lucky. My new doctor happened to be a specialist in my specific conditions. It was the first time in over ten years that I had seen anyone in the government-managed VA healthcare system that could actually help me, and it was by pure accident. That's right, it was accidental that I was seeing the right doctor for me; a matter of complete chance that my previous quack retired and was replaced by this caring individual who knew what to do to help me with my specific issues.

After a fifteen minute evaluation and a thirty second procedure, viola! Instant relief from more than a decade of pain! Though it was not complete pain relief, it was significant enough to make a difference in my daily life. Where had this doctor been all these years? What about others like him? Not only did this doctor give me some type of relief, he did not send me packing off to my own devices for six months. No, he invited me to come back in a day, week, or month, or whatever I needed when the pain returned. When the pain came back just a few days later, I was able to get another thirty second procedure the following day, then again a month later. What a change from the previous medical personnel I had been seeing, who not only had zero solutions, but never seemed to give a damn.

After nearly two years of seeing this doctor, I again returned to my local government-managed VA facility for a follow-up appointment only to be greeted by another new face. It seems that the doctor that had finally been able to help alleviate some of my pain and suffering had transferred to another facility. Did I, the patient, get any notice? Of course not. Did the new health provider that replaced him have the same medical specialty experience as my previous doctor? Of course not. Had the government-managed VA healthcare system screwed up my care yet again? Of course they had. As you might imagine, I was told by my new provider that there was nothing he could do for me, and to come back in six months for more of the same.

I tracked down my previous doctor to his new facility and called to make an appointment. I was willing to drive the 75 miles to be properly treated for my condition. The administration staff of the government-managed VA healthcare facility indicated that in order for me to "transfer" from one facility to another, that I needed to provide an overabundance of information and paperwork to be allowed to use their particular facility and be seen by this doctor. I found it difficult to swallow considering in more than 15 years of using the government-managed VA healthcare system, visiting fourteen different hospitals and clinics in five different states, that I had never had to provide any such information or paperwork to make a transfer.

It took a few weeks for me to accumulate the items the new facility wanted, and when I showed up to "register," not only did they not need any of my paperwork or evidence as I was previously instructed to obtain, my registration was completed in just a few minutes with nothing more than my VA ID. After registration, I set an appointment with the doctor. When I returned for my appointment two months later, the government-managed VA facility no longer existed. Though the building was there, it was vacant. There was nothing to indicate what happened to the facility. It was simply closed. After several phone calls, I was able to determine that the entire facility had moved to a new location. Some notice would have been nice.

Finally, I had my doctor back, and the same thirty second procedure brought some much needed relief. I have continued to see this doctor as needed for relief until recently. As I stated earlier, this particular doctor is a specialist. This doctor also works in a facility that services one of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the country. When I called recently to make another appointment, I found out that my beloved doctor was no longer available, and that there was a replacement provider. I inquired if the replacement was the same type of specialist as my previous doctor. Not only was the replacement not a specialist, the replacement was not even a medical doctor of any kind. Can you imagine my dismay?

I knew what was in store for me, "I'm sorry sir. There is nothing I can do for you except give you a prescription for some Ibuprofen." Of course, I would need to schedule an appointment for six months later to be continually disappointed. I inquired if there were any other doctors of the specialty I needed that I could see. The reply was, "no." No, there were absolutely zero doctors in the entire VA system in this region who were qualified to provide the treatments I needed. A region that serves a population in excess of seven million people, of which well over 200,000 are veterans.

You may be thinking that I have some special needs, and that those needs require the type of specialist that is rare in the medical community. That is not the case. I live in a small town, seventy-five miles from the VA health facility that I have been using. The population of that town is less than three thousand. There is a small clinic in that town with twelve doctors. Five of those doctors are the specialists that I need. 

Someone please tell me how it is that a government-managed VA healthcare region that serves more than 200,000 veterans does not have a single common medical specialist, when a town of less than 3000 has five of them. Someone also tell me in what circumstance is it acceptable to replace a specialist doctor with a provider that is not even a doctor.

So here I sit, with taxpayer-funded, government-managed healthcare coverage, in pain and without a competent doctor to deal with it. How does that happen?



                                                                               •••••


Because of the above mentioned problem(s), my spouse and I decided that I would be added to their group health insurance policy (one of the largest in the nation) beginning in 2014. This way, I could go to the local clinic and see any one of the five specialists that could help alleviate some of my chronic pain. That was until we recently received the new health benefits package, fees, and coverages for 2014.

Because of the Affordable Healthcare for America Act (aka: Obamacare), the increase in our premiums has made adding me to the policy unaffordable. In fact, just keeping the coverages we had before on my spouse and children alone will become unaffordable for us in 2014. You may be inclined to believe that my family and I are better off than the average family, or that we make more than the average median household income. We actually make less than the current median household income. In fact, our family income is equal to the median household income for 2002 (nominal), or 1966 (when adjusted for inflation) (Source: census.gov.) Of course, median household income does not differentiate according to the number of people living within any given household. We have more than double the average household size (source arcgis.com.)

None of this takes into account that Obamacare laws will phase out our current plan over the next two years, forcing us into plans that cost more, provide less, and force us to have more out of pocket expenses. 

So here I sit, with taxpayer-funded, government-managed healthcare coverage, in pain and without a competent doctor to deal with it, and now have to accept the blow of not being able to afford insurance to get healthcare privately in my home town. So instead of using my money to contribute to the economy, I will be paying cash for private treatments. No replacement cars, no new clothes, no extracurricular activities for the children, no movie rentals, cut the cable, cut off the internet, reduce gift expenditures, and no meals out any more, among other things. All of our disposable cash must now go to competent medical care - competent medical care that should be provided to veterans by the taxpayer-funded government-managed VA healthcare system, but is currently nothing more than a waste of taxpayer funds. Ask any veteran who uses the VA regularly.


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One of my parents turned 65 this year, while the other turns 65 next year. Their plan was to retire at the end of 2013. But when they saw the over 400% increase in their healthcare premiums for 2014, what was to be manageable healthcare expenses has now become retirement ending expenses for two people who should be on their way to enjoying the end of their lives.

The Affordable Healthcare Act is exactly opposite of what its name implies. In fact, the Supreme Court got it right when they ruled that the Act was a form of forced taxation - taxation without representation. It is a penalty tax for anyone who does not, cannot, or will not be coerced into doing something the government mandates. This demonstrable legislation marginally benefits just 13% of the population, while punishing the remaining 87%. Yet, 100% of the population (with the exception of those federal elected representatives and staff who voted to OPT OUT of Obamacare after passing it as law) can expect the same type of government managed healthcare that I have been receiving for the past 20 years, all while paying much more for much less, by force.


                                                                              •••••


You will find that this open letter is not signed. This was done intentionally because this subject is not about me. The focus does not need to be on me, because I am not the only one suffering from this problem. I am not asking for pity or help. I am doing nothing more than attempting to shed light on a subject that needs attention, which affects many Americans, even if they do not realize it yet.


• To my fellow Americans, I will close this letter with the following:

What are you going to say when your child/grandchild comes to you one day and asks, "What was freedom like?" 

When a government can compel you to do something you do not want to do, or to spend your money in a manner you do not agree with, backed up by the threat of monetary loss, brute force, or imprisonment for non-compliance, you are not free. You are a slave.


• To the Veterans Affairs personnel who's job it is to provide care and administration to this country's veterans, I will close with the following:

If you know that the person sitting in front of you cannot be helped by your lack of knowledge and/or expertise in a given field, it is incumbent upon you to do the right thing and either find the right specialist for them, or quit your job. You are not helping by consistently providing improper treatments or solutions because that is what your management has mandated you do. Otherwise, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. You should be fighting for your patient's health, not for your management's praise. "Do no harm" does not mean "do as little as possible and get them out the door until the next bi-annual visit." If my words hurt, there is a reason for that. If what I have said seems insulting, then you are probably the exact type of person I am speaking about.


• To the representatives in the three branches of the federal government along with their staff and any other federally elected or appointed employees, I will close with:

Fuck you! 
I hope you take that personally.