Medication can help
I am prompted to write by the letter from Daniel Kane, the mental health counselor who suggests drugs are worthless in fighting mental problems such as depression and only counseling is worthwhile (“The heart of the matter in behavioral health,” Letter of the Day, Aug. 19).
Kane is entitled to promote his profession, but I am concerned that his 18th-century views could cause some people who could benefit from medication to be turned off from getting the treatment they need.
As someone who has suffered from depression all his life, I am approaching my 84th birthday. I feel somewhat qualified to comment. You must get better to get better. This means that a person must begin to realize that his case is not hopeless before he can start improving. This is where drugs have their greatest effect. It may be true that psychotropic drugs are no cure for some mental problems, but if they allow people to lead a merely normal life who otherwise would suffer through a lifetime of misery, they are worth it. These people deserve no less, and anyone who would deprive them of that is less than human.
Palmer G. Wall
I am a retired veteran of 23 years active duty in the Air Force. I acknowledge there have been serious problems at some VA facilities. However, I cannot say enough nice things about the VA facilities and care here in Tampa. Everyone I have been in contact with in Tampa, from the parking attendants to the clerks, nurses and doctors, have been concerned, helpful and dedicated to providing the best service and care possible.
If all other VA facilities’ personnel were as dedicated to exemplary service as the people in Tampa, our VA system would be the envy of the world. Thank you again and again, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.
Regarding “Opening the windows at the VA” (Our Views, Aug. 22): About two years ago I stood outside in 95-degree heat with sun baking me as I picketed with a sign at the VA at Bay Pines while passing out leaflets explaining the gross injustice vets received at possibly all VAs.
The VA had been using a rule that lets any VA employee be able to file a complaint against any veteran and have that vet punished without due process or even an appeal. The vet was ordered to have a VA armed guard escort him or her to appointments and then take them off the property. The employee could dislike the vet for any number of reasons or just feel like flexing a muscle. A vet couldn’t even get to face the accuser to find out if other problems the person had were the real reason he was targeted. The charge became a permanent part of his record, following him wherever he went.
How sad the psychology department could not see a PTSD-disabled veteran might take his life over this tyranny or even take it out on others. Their loyalty obviously was not to the veteran.
The new director at the time saw the danger I was trying to stop and changed the rule, putting it in writing, and sent copies to other VAs to stop the use of this tactic, which discouraged vets from using the medical facilities at the VA. Had the media or the politicians I wrote and called looked into VA abuses, maybe many patients wouldn’t have lost their lives, and the windows would already have been open at the VA.
Thomas R. Hochschild Sr.
Watch what they do
Surprise! No veterans died at the Phoenix VA hospital due to the alleged misdeeds of federal bureaucrats. That is a press release that could have been written in May or June despite what any VA inspector general’s report may have said.
Two certainties for American veterans: First, do not believe what any federal bureaucrat says; watch what they do. Second, do not rely on the inspector general to safeguard your health care.
What should be clear to the new secretary of Veterans Affairs is that there are only two types of people affected by the department he heads. One is the server. The other is the served. If the servers are corrupt or incompetent, the served are clearly underserved. We’ll see if he understands that.
Second, the inspector general is constrained. The office can “inspect,” but it is limited to examining the programs against only the parameters set by the bureaucracy. It should be clear now that the efficacy of setting a “14-day” scheduling goal was foolish. But the IG could not say it was foolish; it could only measure the effectiveness of the policy. The real IG in this scenario is the veterans themselves. And the secretary has a long way to go in rebuilding trust.
The president is not helping. He fails to see that he is not part of the solution. Given his ideological support for the government unions, he is part of the problem. Again, watch what he does, not what he says.
Years ago, when the Pentagon was seen to be bloated and inefficient, a Beltway political wag suggested stationing a blind person at all the exits of the building. The blind person was to touch every fifth employee to exit and fire them immediately. The remaining employees would have to meet the mission without the bloat. The secretary may be well served by adopting a similar tactic.
While we all understand that the department is large and complex and we (the poor veterans) do not have the “big picture,” we can tell the difference between effective and ineffective. Mr. Secretary, do not be just another link in this broken chain of promises.