Legion Commander Comments

Submitted by David Czysz on Wed, 08/09/2023 - 10:07
Commander's Comments

A VA system worth celebrating

The department of Veterans affairs (VA) recently released results from a nationwide Medicare survey of hospital patients.  Unsurprisingly, VA medical centers outperformed others by sizable margins.

Key findings include:

  • 72% of VA hospitals received four-star or five-star ratings for overall performance, compared to 48% of non-VA facilities
  • VA outperformed other hospitals 87% to 48% in “communication with doctors”
  • “Responsiveness of hospital staff” – 63% for VA vs. 34% for non-VA facilities
  • 76% of veterans responded positively about their “willingness to recommend the (VA) hospital,” compared to 52% of non-VA patients, regarding their hospitals.

Such ratings have been common in recent years, Phillip Longman’s 2007 book “Best Care Anywhere” documented the turnaround VA made over previous decades, from something of an embarrassment into a national model – an ascension we can all be proud of.  For sheer size and volume, little else in the world of health care compares.  VA operates 171 medical centers and 1,113 clinics that serve some 9 million veterans, all with unique conditions.  And, as surveys continue to show, veterans cherish it.

The American Legion has spent decades fighting for adequate funding, quality and reasonable access for veterans in an ever-changing medical landscape.  At times, we had to fight for the very existence of VA as we know it.  It’s a good thing we did. VA health care works because it is a perpetual work in progress, dependent of responsible governance, a passionate workforce and stakeholders like us, who can knowledgeable voice concerns to those who can effect change.  Our list of ways to improve it is always full: better services for women, improved mental health offerings, infrastructure, recruitment and more.

VA may never be perfect, but it can only get better when we know the issues, set priorities and speak out for a system that is worth celebrating.

Vincent J. Troiola  

The American Legion Magazine August 2023