Monday, January 6, 2020

The VA — a decade in review

The past decade was undoubtedly an important one for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Unfortunately, if anyone word could define it, it would be backlogged. From 2010 to 2019, VA confronted backlogs of disability compensation claims, backlogs of medical appointments and backlogs of whistleblower complaints.
With that being said, VA found itself overwhelmed and under-resourced when the decade began. By 2010, the nation had been at war for nearly a decade, creating a new generation of veterans for the Department to care for, while simultaneously adjusting to an aging cohort of older veterans from the previous conflicts in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II.
Accordingly, with an increase in the number of veterans in need of services, the past decade saw VA’s budget receive unprecedented growth, beginning with a 15.5 percent increase to $112.8 billion in 2010. At the time, this was the most substantial percentage increase for VA in over 30 years. By the time the decade was drawing to a close, VA’s budget had nearly doubled from this amount to $217 billion for the fiscal year 2020.
Despite the massive increase in spending, VA remained plagued by various backlogs for most of the decade. As recently noted by Dr. Jonathan M. Metzl, “history also teaches us that it’s best to avoid knee-jerk assumptions that more government, money, or health care are automatically good . . . I’ve spent enough time working in hospital systems such as the [VA] to realize that more investment in healthcare does not automatically result in better healthcare outcomes.”

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