Dear Future President,
Today I would like to address the issue of Veterans' mental health and health care. First I would like to give some background on myself, which has formed my opinions. I am a senior at the Charlton School. I have lived in Upstate New York my whole life. My father is a U.S. army veteran. He has been suffering for years with physical and now mental health issues. He lost his job three years ago due to random blackouts, which caused him to fall and hurt his back. He had regular health insurance at first but lost it due to financial reasons. Now, his only source of health care is the VA. The VA has been passing him from doctor to doctor and not finding any solutions. He has been put on so much medication that he can barely function. On top of this, he is suffering with depression and PTSD. It has been three years and there has been no change. My point is that the VA considers their patients as just a number. My father is not just a number to my family and me. I have found that we are not the only ones suffering from this issue.
The VA is full of problems. There have been thousands of cases that report a pattern of negligence in the treatment of military veterans. At a VA hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina, an audit found that facility employees did not complete required suicide prevention follow ups 90 percent of the time for patients at high risk of suicide. If this isn't shocking enough, there were several other cases in which patients were misdiagnosed. Also, only 50 percent of military veterans in the U.S. who need mental health treatment will receive these services. This could be due to logistical problems, concerns of the treatment provided by the VA, and due to long emergency room waits. My father has experienced all of these first hand. We live an hour from the VA hospital. The drive is long, costly, and difficult. My father is unable to drive and my mother works seven days a week to support the entire family of four. She does not have the time to drive him to appointments, nor the money. According to the American Psychology Association, in the year of 2005, 22 percent of veterans sought veteran mental health treatment in a private sector rather than getting treatment from the VA. I believe most veterans would do that if it wasn't a financial burden. Veterans world wide are not being provided with the things they need resulting in drug abuse, homelessness, poverty, and suicide.
So what is a solution to this huge list of problems? The funding allocated for veterans' mental health care and regular health care needs to be increased so that every veteran has easy access this type of care when they need it. They should be able to go to private sector physicians and have it be paid for in full by the government. The VA hospitals and health facilities have not been providing the adequate care our veterans need. Please think about all of the other families in the same position as mine. Our veterans deserve to be more than just a number. They put their lives on the line for us. The least we could do is give back to them. Thank you for your time. I hope you consider some of my ideas and have a better understanding of a person dealing with this problem first hand.