Sunday, September 18, 2011

To Complain or not to Complain, that is the Question

Borrowing a line from Shakespeare totally fits the dilemma that we have when dealing with the VA. When we get less than desirable treatment or when we have to deal with something which is dangerous or life-threatening, do we dare to complain?

Many who have made a complaint have been retaliated against. They have received even less care, have been told they are lying or that they are causing the problem. Entries are made in medical records which is difficult if not impossible to have removed. All of this allows the VA to put the blame on the patient or the caregiver and frees them from the necessity of dealing with the problem.

On the other hand, if we do not make a genuine complaint, we are left dealing with the fall-out of the lack of care. As usual, it is often the caregiver who deals with fall-out, which adds another layer of burden to a person who is already burdened beyond belief.

No matter how politely we make our complaint, no matter how much we follow protocol, no matter who we talk with and no matter how many people promise things will change, they rarely do for the better. The VA and the level of care appears to be in a downward spiral. As the current deployments come to an end, and our troops return, the pressure on the VA facilities will increase. In my opinion the level of care will decrease with the increase in patient load.

I have no answer for the issue of complaints, as it is a double edged sword. Every family must make a decision based on their circumstances and knowledge. No one should be penalized for complaining about lack of appropriate care, no one should be treated with disrespect because they do not fit the on-size-fits-all that the VA protocols are written for. What I do know is that this is an extremely unfair burden to place on both Veterans and those that care for them.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This is a very serious question and one that is so fraught with multiple issues because it is true. There is a deep vulnerability when you're afraid and we all know families who have continuing issues because of repercussions. On the other hand, we also know families who finally received appropriate care because they were so vocal and exposed. Either way, there should not be a connection with how hard you seek answers and receiving proper care.

    In a system as large as VA, and with the sheer number of veterans and families, some bureaucracy is expected. But, if there was an element of customer satisfaction and government accountability -- it might be more effective and clearly less costly than revamping the entire VA medical system.

    Fear really doesn't help the recovery or reintegration process, does it?