VA Hospitals

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

There is nothing new about the problems with Veteran Administration Hospitals.  The current problems have existed for years, so to put the blame on General Senseki is doing him a great disservice.  We will have months of more useless hearings without any solution to the problem.  The State of Oregon closed one VA  Hospital near Medford, Oregon years ago and has one in Portland which is part of the Oregon Health Sciences University which has a great staff and resources available to Veterans.  Our Grand Daughter spent part of her time when working on her MD from OHSU where she is now employed.  She enjoyed working in that part of OSHU and working with veterans.  My choice would be to attach all the Veterans Hospitals to up-to-date hospitals which have all the most recent tests, equipment and other facilities available to Veterans as well as other patients.

Another innovation would to make Veterans part of the Affordable Care Act so that they could get the kind of specialized care needed for injuries in any hospital in the nation.  For example, currently Vietnam veterans are treated differently depending upon whether they were actually present on Vietnam soil.  I have one son-in-law who can get VA assistance because he helped to load the bombs on Air Force planes on Vietnam soil, but the other son-in-law who served two tours on an Aircraft Carrier off the coast of Vietnam is not because he did not actually go on land in  Vietnam.  He could well be suffering from the effects of Agent Orange from having been on board a ship because, given the amount Agent Orange sprayed on the jungles in Vietnam, much of it could have drifted on board the ships where he was stationed.  For example, I am considered a Korean War veteran even though I served state side, but I was exposed to Agent Orange while a member of the National Guard in Oregon.  I was employed in two different counties in Oregon where we used Agent Orange to kill willows and weeds along ditch banks and fields.  I did this over a two year period in Malheur and Union Counties in Oregon.  No one told us it was Agent Orange until I found out about it years later when I called the State of Oregon and talked to an official in the Agricultural Department.  I told him about my experience, and he asked me if I would like to sue the State of Oregon.  Agent Orange was so named because the barrel of the chemicals delivered to Vietnam were labeled with  an Orange stripe, Agent Blue, and so on because of the kind of chemicals contained in the barrels.  Agent Orange is made up of 245t and 24d which are plant growth hormones which cause the plants to grow themselves to death.  Both may father and I developed sever blistering on our hands, and I suffered for years from such outbreaks including constant sinus infections and other respiratory problems including asthma.   I also had prostate cancer in my early sixties which I was told by my doctor was known to cause prostate cancer.  I am certain that I would not be covered by VA insurance even though I served in both the National Guard and the U.S. Army on US soil during the time I was exposed to Agent Orange which was on our hands when we ate our lunch and blew back in our faces as we sprayed.  Agent Orange was also used by the US Forest Service to kill unwanted vegetation when planting trees on areas which had been clear cut where a portion of the forest is completely cleared and then replanted with new trees in Northwest Forests primarily in Oregon and
Washington.

So my suggestions would be to dramatically alter the Veterans Administration and make Veterans Health Care part of the Affordable Care Act so that a Veteran could go to any hospital which is set up to provide the kind of specialized care needed to provide treatment for any ailment which occurred during a Veterans term of service and quit using war zone designations as an excuse to deny treatment for our Veterans.