Veteran says VA wrong to spend so much on signage

Posted 5 August 2015 at 12:00 am


In the wake of the news that the Batavia VA Clinic is receiving ½ million dollars to spend on signs I have this to say:

I find it reprehensible that the VA VISN 2 (which includes Buffalo, Batavia and Rochester) would hand out ½ million dollars for new signs at the Batavia Clinic. I use that VA and they have relatively new signs. I am half blind and must wear glasses and I am almost entirely deaf in my right ear from my combat service. Yet, I can still easily find my way around the Batavia VA using the existing signs without a problem.

There’s no need new signs. Besides, if a vet has problems finding their way, there are plenty of VA employees sitting or standing around to guide you.

I have more complaints against VISN 2 than I can list. Due to their inefficiency, ineffectiveness and complete disregard for my health, I was forced to seek medical attention at Strong Memorial Hospital, even though I am 100 percent service connected. Lucky for me Strong has given me Charity Care at a 60 percent discount, but that still leaves me paying many bills out of my own pocket without VA assistance.

I have been forced to put forth complaints about VA negligence, employee disrespect and downright malpractice to the VA Inspector General. I have also pursued a Congressional Inquiry into the Buffalo VAMC with Congressman Collins office. There is so much wrong with the VA that I have arranged a face-to-face meeting with the congressman later this month to discuss veteran’s issues. To toss ½ million dollars out for new signs at the Batavia VA when veterans are literally dying to get in is unacceptable. This is only one of the many topics I intend to bring up with our congressman.

Non-veterans in America now have the freedom to choose their health care due to Obama’s Health Care Reform Act. Veterans, however, do not have much choice. If a veteran is lucky enough to be working on his own or is married and somehow has private insurance to fall back on, he is lucky. Many veterans are disabled with PTSD, TBI’s or other medical issues. However, they are forced to use the VA unless we pay out of our own pocket. Why do we veterans, the very people who have answered the call to arms to preserve the freedoms of all Americans, have no freedom to choose our own health care? Why are we veterans disenfranchised? Almost discriminated against?

In my opinion, all veterans have become prisoners without freedom of choice for their health care. I also believe it is time to send VA medical centers (such as the Buffalo VA hospital) packing. Get rid of that hospital, which is ripe with politics, deplorable conditions, employee negligence and downright medical misconduct, fraud and overall mismanagement. For example, I had one doctor who had no idea that any one of the hundreds of thousands of American troops fighting the First Gulf War ever set foot on Iraqi soil — and he was the head of his department.

I found that incident so incomprehensible it left me momentarily speechless. I had the doctor pull up a map on his computer to and him where veterans have fought in the in the Middle East in the last 25+ years. Why did I have to tell a VA doctor something he should very well have known when he is supposedly responsible for caring for veterans of every era? That was nonsense. It shows that the very people charged with caring for we veterans have no clue about us at all.

Veterans should have a choice in their health care. It has been proven that the VA is no longer in touch with most veterans, especially we of the younger generation. They have also, regardless of age or military service, either not provided care at all or just simply provided substandard care. They frequently refuse payment for things like going to a non-VA emergency room or hospital which may be closer to the veterans home.

The only VA inpatient hospital or emergency services available to veterans in WNY is in Buffalo. Batavia is only a mere clinic and has no emergency services. Ergo, they don’t need new signs when that money could be used for medical care for veterans.

Is it not better to spend ½ million dollars on care for a veteran than on useless signs? This whole thing is just one more in an endless list of VA mismanagement and absolute total disregard for veterans. It’s deplorable.

Batavia needs to refuse that money and demand that it goes to the care of veterans. For anyone who disagrees, they may just go online to the Veterans Administration Office of the Inspector General and look at the endless complaints they have investigated. Nearly one in every five complaints has been found to be valid and reprimands have resulted.

The VA is antiquated, especially now with Obama’s health care reforms. Veterans should not be forced to be prisoners of the VA system and denied the very freedom of choice in health care that the rest of the American public enjoys. If you look at the VA online they portray themselves as caring and veteran oriented. Don’t believe everything you read. There are more horror stories than there are satisfied veterans.

I urge any veteran that has issues with dealing with the VA to contact me directly at I would be happy to help. We veterans are the only ones who can change the system, but we must do it together.

Many of us have fought in combat and although the fight to end VA corruption and mismanagement must be done with the power of words and not arms, we must still band together as one to fight for what we deserve. We must demand change and fight for our freedom of choice in health care. It’s obvious we cannot leave it up to the VA. We veterans should enjoy the very freedoms we fought for and not be disregarded and thrown aside, which with the VA seems to be the case.

The entire VA should be ashamed of itself and I think it’s time for a shake up and a removal of several VA employees. In the military if we did not do our jobs or did them haphazardly, we would be demoted or worse, chaptered out of the service entirely.

That should be the standard for the VA as well. Either do your jobs and respect veterans or take a hike. If VISN 2 approves or for a minute think it’s okay to spend ½ million dollars for new signs when veterans are still suffering and being ignored, then it’s time we veterans joined together and end VA negligence.

We must demand reform, remove those VA directors that allow such oversight and exercise our rights not only as American citizens, but as proud veterans.

Steven T. Sills
Proud Veteran