The average waiting time for a first appointment at the Canandaigua VA Hospital is ten days longer the average waiting time for a first appointment at VA hospitals nationwide.
The average waiting time is the key in the current VA scandal: the time between when a veteran first registers for health care benefits with the VA, and the time when the veteran actually gets to see a doctor at a VA medical facility.
The average waiting time for a first appointment at VA hospitals was the focus of the Interim Report issued last week by the VA Office of Inspector General.
Neither the Interim Report nor the article published yesterday by USA Today and the Democrat and Chronicle deal with anything other than the average waiting time for a first appointment.
The average waiting time at the 140 VA hospitals nationwide is 27 days. But at the Canandaigua VA Hospital the average waiting time for a first appointment is 37 days.
That waiting time is 37% higher than the average waiting times at VA hospitals across the country.
The VA hospitals with the worst waiting times are in Nashville, Tennessee where the waiting time is 65 days. The VA hospitals with the best waiting times are in Clarksburg, West Virginia where the waiting time is 6 days.
The Canandaigua VA Hospital, and its satellite locations, the Outpatient Clinic on Westfall Road and the Vet Center on Blossom Road, provide health care services to veterans in the greater Rochester, New York metropolitan area.
Unfortunately, the Canandaigua VA Hospital has some of the worst waiting times in the country.
And the data does not include any information about wait times at the Outpatient Clinic on Westfall Road, which never seems to have enough parking spaces to handle the number of veterans who go there.
Nor does it include data on wait times at the Vet Center on Blossom Road, which has the reputation of being one of the worst managed VA facilities in the country.
It is not pretty. Think about it, if you are a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and you go to the VA here in Rochester for help, the VA makes you wait 37days before you see a doctor.
When you get back home after your fifth or sixth deployment to Afghanistan, some bureaucrat tells you that you have to wait 37 days before you can see a physician.
Maybe that’s why Young Veterans’ Suicide Rate is 4 times higher than Non-Veterans.
Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide in America because they can’t get help. That’s almost one an hour, and the staff at the VA doesn’t seem to care. They blithely go on with their lives as if everything is just fine.
USA Today, and the Democrat and Chronicle, obtained the information about waiting times at the Canandaigua VA Hospital by filing an open records request with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). USA Today is a sister media outlet to the Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester’s daily newspaper.
But the outrageous number of veterans who commit suicide each week is only a number, unless you tie the suicide rate to something people can understand.
Just publishing statistics about suicides and waiting time isn’t going to change the situation.
However, a mathematician in Brockport may have the answer. He suggests that what USA Today, and the Democrat and Chronicle, have to do is publish a small black box on page one of the newspaper every day listing the number of veterans who have committed suicide in the past week.
Television news programs could run a similar black box at the bottom of the screen during the broadcast.
That might work. Maybe then, the American people would start to realize that veterans in this country are in crisis.
It’s one thing to complain about the outrageous wait times at VA facilities nationwide. It’s another thing to stand up and do something to help our veterans in their time of crisis.
If you meet a politician today, or tomorrow, ask them what they have done to reduce the suicide rate among America’s veterans.
Put the pressure on them; from local politicians to the President.
America’s combat veterans risked their lives for you and me. It’s time for us to stand up and demand that the VA provides America’s combat veterans with the help they need to make it through today, tomorrow, and the rest of their lives.
Otherwise, Suicide Rate of Young Veterans will continue to be 4 times higher than the suicide rate of Non-Veterans.