The mission of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is clear: To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.
So how does it happen that the VA has neglected a pilot program designed to serve some of South Carolina’s most vulnerable veterans?
S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell’s outrage is justified, and he makes his case persuasively in a column on today’s Commentary page. He’s right to be appalled that:
■ Veterans who need nursing care are not being afforded that care in their homes where they want to be.
■ They are instead being institutionalized for three times the cost of home care.
■ Some might not get served at all because beds are in short supply — or may be put in nursing homes at even greater expense to the VA.
The VA owes the public — especially veterans — an explanation and a financial accounting of the funds that were allocated for providing vets with home health care in this South Carolina program.
Mr. McConnell has asked for support and answers but has received little in return.
According to the lieutenant governor, the structure is in place. A database was developed specifically for this program. Some vets were selected to be served.
But it has languished by neglect, despite Mr. McConnell’s efforts to stir some action at the VA. He tells us the program will have to be canceled the first of October unless the VA makes good on its promise to provide the necessary funding and referrals.
A regional program can be cost-effective only if there are at least 50 vets being provided with home health care. At present, there are about 15 in Charleston. In the last few months, there have been no referrals.
Those who are being taken care of through the program are doing well. They like the arrangement.
But the cost-saving, humanitarian, common-sense program could end soon. The VA should be willing to do its part — even at this late date.
Lt. Gov. McConnell says research indicates people who are aging are more fearful of being institutionalized than of dying.
The program for veterans in need of home care should be expanded, not contracted.
“Our vets are being shortchanged,” Mr. McConnell told us.
That’s something that shouldn’t happen to people who served the country — people the VA is supposed to “serve and honor.”
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