According to a recent report by CNN, at least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix, Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of a half-baked scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide the fact that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor.

Internal e-mails show that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it.
A VA doctor told CNN that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments.  There is an ‘official’ list shared with Washington, which appears to show timely medical appointments made for Vets.   However, the true number of Vets on the ‘real’ waiting list is much higher, and was not provided to Washington.

The elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care.  It is currently estimated that there are between 1400 to 1600 Veterans in the Phoenix area who are on the ‘secret list’ waiting for appointments with a primary care physician.

Neglect of ill Vets is nothing new.  A scandal broke at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland in 2007.    At the time the Washington Post ran articles describing portions of the facility as rat- and cockroach-infested, with stained carpets, cheap mattresses, and black mold, with some soldiers reporting no heat or water in the facility. The unmonitored entrance created security problems, including reports of drug dealers in front of the facility. Injured soldiers stated they were forced to “pull guard duty” to have some level of security.

And today, the Army is failing to properly diagnose and treat head injuries suffered by Iraq War and Afghanistan War Veterans.

Isn’t it about time that we give the medical care of Veterans are highest priority?  Why can’t they simply be given generous medical insurance equivalent to what members of the Congress receive?