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Uncovered memorandum shows VA used civilian hospitals years ago

Memorandum Walter Reed Army Medical Center and provided medical care choices that veterans could use
Memorandum Walter Reed Army Medical Center and provided medical care choices that veterans could use
(Used by permission from Gary DeMar)

While the VA on Saturday said it would allow more veterans to get health care outside Veterans Affairs facilities, an uncovered sixty-year old memorandum that was released on Sunday reveals that such a plan previously existed and raises questions of why it was changed.

The memorandum in question was issued by the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and provided medical care choices that veterans could use that included the use of private medical facilities and was signed by Lt. Col. James D. Boole, Jr., Chief of the Military Personnel Branch.

The memorandum was uncovered by Gary DeMar, whose father served in World War II and was present at Pearl Harbor when Japan attacked on December 7, 1941, and who served in the Pacific Guadalcanal, Northern Solomon’s, and the Philippine Liberation Campaigns.

His father also re-enlisted when the Korean War broke out.

In presenting the finding, DeMar said that what is happening now is nothing new and is old news in referencing the VA’s plan to allow veterans to use civilian medical facilities.

DeMar found the memorandum while going through some of his mother’s files on Saturday and said, “This is old news. This document shows how the VA used to work. It makes sense.”

In the memorandum, it states:

“If at any time while on Detached Service you are in need of medical attention, you may obtain such treatment at any Army, Navy or Air Force Hospital. If these are not available, it may be obtained from a hospital of other Federal Agencies, such as Veterans Hospital[s] and US Public Health. If none of these are available, it may be obtained from Civilian hospitals. Notify the Registrar of this hospital immediately upon receipt of any treatments. If you are admitted to any hospital notify this office immediately by wire or telephone.”

DeMar said, “When my father died in May of 2001, I saw for the first time the letter the Army had sent my mother informing her that my father had suffered a near-fatal injury. A mortar shell had exploded next to the jeep he was riding in. It happened on February 28, 1951, I was born in April of 1950. My father's foot was resting on the running board. It was the last time it would rest anywhere again. After the explosion, all that remained was a bloody stump.”

“I know the VA very well,” DeMar said. “The VA hospitals treated him well for 50 years. He had nothing but good things to say about the VA. When did this all change?”

“The last thing we need is a system where only the government's choice for us is our only option. Oh, wait, that's what we have at this moment under Obamacare. What makes McCain et al., think the veterans will get better care when the care you and I are going downhill?”