24,905 Veterans Nationwide Were Likely Misdiagnosed by Unqualified Doctors at the VA
On Wednesday, a report found that between 2007 and 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gave 24,905 veterans a crucial medical examination with unqualified personnel. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a signature medical problem among veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the examination determines how much disability compensation a veteran will receive for life. Even one misdiagnosis can cause harm, not just to the veteran but to his friends and family. Twenty-five thousand of them... is a national disgrace.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald responded by granting "equitable relief," by offering new TBI examination to these veterans. The VA requires each examination to be conducted by one of four designated medical specialists, and now 24,905 veterans will have "the opportunity to have their claims reprocessed." That's about the least he could do.
"Traumatic Brain Injury is a signature inquiry in Veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and VA is proud to be an organization that sets the bar high for supporting these, and all, Veterans," Secretary McDonald said in a press release. "Providing support for Veterans suffering from a TBI is a priority and a privilege, and we must make certain they receive a just and fair rating for their disabilities."
Only one of four types of specialists -- a psychiatrist, a physiatrist, a neurosurgeon, or a neurologist -- can complete the TBI exams. The VA acknowledged that the agency "issued a number of guidance documents that may have created confusion regarding the policy," but "has confirmed that its TBI policy guidance is now clear and being followed." After 25,000 failures after 8 years, I would hope so.
McDonald made one more in a long list of late apologies, saying, "We let these Veterans down. That is why we are taking every step necessary to grant equitable relief to those affected to ensure they receive the full benefits to which they are entitled."
The VA secretary may want to make it sound like the issue is solved, the case closed, but Americans should understand the gravity of this tragedy.
"While these injuries may not be visible, the wounds they leave are no less deep, and veterans should be able to count on the VA to help them heal," Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Press Secretary John Cooper told PJ Media on Thursday. "Instead, the VA has been negligent, allowing unqualified employees to treat these complex injuries, and veterans have suffered needlessly because of it."
Next Page: What kind of reform the VA needs, and exactly how bad this TBI misdiagnosis scandal really is.