November 12th is Veterans Day, a time we reflect on the sacrifice and service of those that served. As a veteran myself, I’ve observed a change over the years in the way the public has honored our veterans. As a B-52 bombardier I spent a few years sitting nuclear alert and had a tour in southeast Asia toward the end of the Vietnam War. I don’t remember anyone thanking me for my service during that time frame, and I know of others who even endured negative reactions toward them for serving in that controversial war. It is different now. I often am thanked for my service, which sometimes makes me a little uncomfortable because I feel the ones that really deserve the honor are those who made the ultimate sacrifice or were injured either physically or mentally during their service. These veterans have earned the best healthcare our country can provide, yet there are many veterans who face barriers in getting the healthcare they need. Here are just two ways we can honor our veterans.
First, don’t quit thanking veterans for their service. While it might make some uncomfortable, the bottom line is that every veteran took an oath to protect and defend our country, even to the sacrifice of their own life. Whether they were injured or not they were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice and that deserves our thanks. Something that many people do not know is that the oath a veteran takes when they join the service does not expire. They make a lifelong promise to defend our country.
Second, do all you can do to get the veterans the healthcare they deserve. There have been conditions that have come to light of some of the deficiencies in healthcare our veterans have faced. There has been substandard hospital care and a lack of access to convenient healthcare services that have plagued veterans. Here are just three of the areas that need to be improved:
- The patient’s voice needs to be part of the dialogue as we consider improvements to veteran’s healthcare. Many of the past and present problems could have been avoided if they would have listened to the patient.
- Better transparency and accountability is needed when it comes to the limitations of the veteran’s prescription drug formulary. The VA has 1,745 prescription drugs listed on its formulary; a common Medicare Part D prescription drug plan has 3,104. You can understand why many veterans choose to pay the extra premiums and join Medicare Part D. Veterans shouldn’t be short changed when it comes to the availability of prescription drugs.
- Speak out on the need for increased support for veterans mental healthcare. An alarming number of veterans are returning from war with serious mental health conditions. It is sad that these heroes survive the perils of war only to take their own life due to untreated PTSD. They need and deserve the best help available as they fight to overcome the mental impact of their war experiences.
It’s up to us to not only thank them for their service but to also fight for their healthcare like they fought for our freedoms.
I’m thankful to the veterans who fought so that we could vote for the candidates of our choice. It is just one of the freedoms that they have fought to protect for almost 250 years. I will continue to thank them for their service and fight to get them the healthcare they deserve.
P.S. Don’t forget to join our virtual town hall this Thursday, November 12th at 2:00 pm ET. I’ll talk about some of the changes to healthcare we can expect in the new administration and our special guest speaker, John Schall, CEO of Caregiver Action Network, will talk about caregiving in the COVID-19 environment, the National Family Health History day and the yearly Medicare open enrollment. Please RSVP at the link below: