I originally believed that the deaths of 45 veterans awaiting treatment from the Veterans Affairs health care system were due to overcrowding and underfunding. The department’s inspector general has since discovered a surplus of undistributed funds that would’ve gone far to alleviate the circumstances that took their lives.

The mismanagement of veterans’ health care is a microcosm of the general failure of health care policy in America. Whereas 45 veterans died in Phoenix, 45,000 American citizens die each year because they possess no access to health care services at all.

Despite accusations of long waits for care, this does not occur in other nations with single-payer policies, while the deaths in Phoenix illustrate that these long waits are just as much a reality here at home for specific populations.

My concern as a disabled veteran who depends upon VA care is that the institution will be scuttled in favor of a privatized voucher system that will serve corporate managers far more than veterans. I am hoping that we will rally around our tradition of “leaving no comrade behind” to save this institution through common sense reforms.

I would urge those concerned with this issue to contact their local veterans’ service organization while actively engaging your lawmakers. Don’t allow our veterans’ benefits to be mismanaged or taken from us. Get involved now!

John M. Flagler

Alfred