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Veterans are an integral part of the American nation because of their contributions that have brought unity and prosperity to the present generation. However, the current status of many veterans is very pitiful. Most of them suffer from age-related medical problems or unpleasant experiences arising from their work practices. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a national organization responsible for working with veterans dealing with medical care, coverage for an injury suffered while on service, and the availability of life insurance, among others. However, the United States has over thirty thousand homeless veterans who suffer from drug abuse and financial constraints. The VA needs to design new rules with respect to addressing the issues of the veterans for better services through the improvement of the guidelines used in reporting the veterans’ cases as well as an elimination of inconsistencies in the provision of services to the veterans.
Rating Inconsistencies and Guidelines Issues
The major problem concerning the veterans is that VA is inconsistent in rating the veterans suffering from the same conditions in different parts of the country. The 57 regional offices dealing with the rating of the veterans’ state have varying criteria for the assessment of veterans’ state despite the similarity of the conditions from which they suffer (Cozza, Goldenberg & Ursano, 2014). Ratings are essential for the veterans since they determine the compensation that the veterans receive from the government. The inconsistencies between various regions indicate discrimination of the veterans. When two of them receive different compensation for the same condition, their level of motivation reduces. Similarly, the veterans tend to lead varying lives due to the difference in compensation, which results in the poverty of some of the veterans. Removal of the inconsistency will go a long way towards compensating the veterans correctly and improving their lives across various parts of the country.
The discussed discrepancy arises from the different boards responsible for rating the veterans in various regions. The lack of unified board leads to the interpretation of the information in different manner, especially concerning psychological issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While some areas consider the condition broadly, other regions categorize all the conditions in general. The varied interpretations of the conditions lead to different ratings causing the inconsistencies in compensation and diagnosis. The risk associated with poor diagnosis leads to barriers in getting the adequate medical help. Over 15% of veterans risk suffering from PTSD depending on the intensity of action in their regions of deployment (Cozza, Goldenberg & Ursano, 2014). Therefore, the veterans department needs to eliminate the inconsistencies in medical diagnosis, the rating of the injuries sustained by the veterans as well as the compensation. The removal of differences will help the veterans in accessing better treatment and leading better lives.
At the same time, the Government Accountability Office expresses concern about the guidelines used in reporting and storing information at the veterans’ office. One of the major concerns is the storage of the information. The medical records for the veterans do not reflect the situation as it is in reality. In the coding of the data, the medical practitioners fail to code the correct condition of the veteran as well as its frequency. Doctors end up coding the wrong diagnosis and presenting the false data to the department. Thus, the guidelines used in recording the information lead to many errors in the system. The errors in recording the data are directly responsible for the inconsistencies in the field (Rosner, 2014). As follows, the department needs an updated system that can help the doctors in coding the correct information with minimal mistakes and high precision.
The Department of Veterans Affairs requires the doctors to use a standardized tool in assessing the condition of the veterans. However, the medical workers overlook this important principle in evaluating the patients. In addition, the VA needs to teach the veterans how to take their particular medication for faster recovery. However, an investigation by the Government Accountability office unearthed that the staff did not adhere to those guidelines. Lack of proper education for the veterans is a significant threat to their health since they fail to recover from their medical conditions rising further deterioration of the situation (Liang et al., 2013). In this situation, the VA needs to upgrade the collection of data from the veterans by making it mandatory for the doctors to adhere to every law and policy connected with the well-being of the veterans. Poor adherence to the policies in place, in particular, leads to drug addiction among the veterans who aim at eliminating the experienced stress.
The reporting guidelines play a crucial part in further development of inconsistencies in the department. In cases of assessing the veterans, the doctors interview the veterans directly. However, some cases of depression are extreme and tend to make the veterans forget some information that might be critical to their treatment. The reporting guidelines require an upgrade to ensure that the doctors collect all the relevant data from the patient. For example, the collection of information might be in the form of groups who served in the same mission as well as the people living with the veteran. In such a case, the medical assessors will be able to capture more knowledge about the case, leading to better treatment of the veterans. Upgrading the guidelines, as well as a strict implementation of the current policies, will lead to accurate assessment, elimination of inconsistencies and accurate records in the veterans’ department.
However, the deteriorating conditions experienced by some of the veterans are not always a result of differences in treatment or inadequate guidelines in reporting of their cases. Some of the veterans fail to seek medical attention for their conditions. In such cases, it becomes hard for the VA to observe the progress made by the patients towards recovery (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2005, p. 67). The veterans collect their compensation, and due to poor financial decisions, they spend the money leaving them in a poor financial state. Therefore, the veterans should be delivered an important role to play in improving the efficiency of the VA. It is impossible for the staff to keep track of all veterans without their active participation in demanding the efficiency. Hence, the collaborative effort of the government, the agencies, and the veterans will improve the situation in the agency through the elimination of the inconsistencies.
In conclusion, inconsistencies in the VA originate from different diagnosis methods leading to inaccurate ratings for the patients who seek for help as a result of their military involvement. The ratings determine the amount of compensation offered by the government to the veterans. Further inconsistencies stem up from the guidelines in place for reporting veterans’ issues as well as the records stored by the medical department concerning the patients. Further, the doctors fail to observe the policies in place leading to increased inconsistencies. Therefore, rectification of the situation requires improvement of the guidelines and a strict enactment of the policies in place. Such changes will result in better services for the veterans and an elimination of the current inconsistencies. However, the veterans should also take an active step towards pushing for better services from the department by seeking treatment and providing accurate information to the department.
Cozza, S., Goldenberg, M. & Ursano, R. (2014). Care of military service members, veterans, and their families. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, a division of American Psychiatric Association.
Department of Veterans Affairs. (2005). Review of State Variances in VA Disability Compensation Payments. Retrieved from Office of Inspector General website: https://www.va.gov/oig/52/reports/2005/VAOIG-05-00765-137.pdf
Liang, C. Y., Wang, K. Y., Hwang, S. J., Lin, K. C., & Pan, H. H. (2013). Factors affecting the physician–patient relationship of older veterans with inadequate health literacy: an observational study. Br J Gen Pract, 63(610), e354-e360.
Rosner, C. (2014). GAO Report: VA Provides Inconsistent Treatment To Veterans With Depression - Hartford Courant. Retrieved from http://www.courant.com/health/hc-veterans-health-20141218-story.html
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