First question to ask is, what is a veteran?
According to Webster's Dictionary, a veteran is a former member of the armed forces. If you served, you are a veteran. In that group you have guys like me—I did my four years, realized that military life was not for me and I got out. You have lifers who do 20 years or more and retire from the military.
Do all veteran's receive VA benefits?
If you serve under 20 years, you get the same benefits as those who served two, three, four or six-year enlistments. You get the GI Bill if you opted to participate, or if you qualify for other state programs. You qualify for VA home loans. You do not get a pension and you do not get health care unless you have a service-connected healthcare issue. If you did 20 years and retired, you get a pension (from the branch of service you were in, not the VA). You get healthcare through TRICARE, unless of course you have a service-connected healthcare issue. There are other circumstances in which a veteran may qualify for VA healthcare, and Wikipedia has a very easy-to-read and understand chart on who is and is not eligible. More on the service connected issues later.
How many veterans are there in the United States?
The projected veteran population is 21,973,000. That includes veterans going back to World War II like William Overton, the oldest living WWII veteran, as well as the young men and women who have recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and everyone who served in between those conflicts. Some are combat veterans, others served in the relative peace of the cold war.
There are currently 8.93 million veterans receiving VA healthcare.
An injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. These disabilities are considered to be service-connected. Some examples: If you get shot in combat, that is a service-connected injury. If you went into the military and developed a heart condition while in, that is service-connected. If you bust your leg jumping out of an airplane while off-duty, that is not service-connected. This is not all of the possible conditions that could be considered service-connected. Think of it this way: If you were injured while on duty, it is service-connected. If you developed a healthcare issue while in the service, it is service-connected.
How many VA healthcare facilities are there?
There are 150 VA hospitals and 820 VA community-based outpatient clinics serving 8.3 million veterans.
A VA Hospital is just what you think it is, a full-service hospital.
To make access to health care easier, VHA utilizes more than 800 Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) across the country. These clinics provide the most common outpatient services, including health and wellness visits, without the hassle of visiting a larger medical center. VHA continues to expand the network of CBOCs to include more rural locations, putting access to care closer to home.How many healthcare professionals does the VA healthcare system employ?
I could not find numbers on how that 53,000 breaks down over doctors, nurses and other licensed healthcare providers. What I do know is that 53,000 is likely not enough to serve the needs of the 8.93 million veterans eligible for care. Th VA needs an infusion of funding. More healthcare professionals need to be hired, more clinics and hospitals need to be built in order to serve all eligible veterans.
Voucher and privatization schemes heralded by the Republican Party will only drain funds from the VA and will starve an organization that is already not properly funded. As Democrats, we do not want to see Social Security and Medicare privatized or using vouchers, why would we want that same thing for the VA? The system can work well; however, we as a nation just need to make a decision. Do we want to provide the best possible care available to our nation's veterans, or do we want to see healthcare corporations profiting off of our veteran's wounds? Very simple questions. I know what I want to do, and that is to provide the best possible care available without profits going to some healthcare corporation.