Former Pentagon Spokesman J.D. Gordon has seen the facilities at Guantánamo Bay and can attest personally to the fact that the al Qaeda operatives being detained at the naval base received better and faster care than veterans in the United States waiting for health care from the federal Veterans Affairs office.
Gordon writes at Fox News today that the health care provider to patient ratio is better for terrorists detained at Guantánamo than it is for veterans, that veterans have to wait longer for care and receive worse quality care. “The admitted co-conspirators [of the September 11 attacks] and their roughly 150 fellow jihadists at Gitmo have approximately 100 doctors, nurses and health care personnel assigned to them,” Gordon notes, while the VA’s patient care program offers veterans a 35-to-1 ratio of patient to provider.
Care–both physical and mental–for Gitmo detainees is easily accessible for anyone wishing to see a medical professional at the detention facility. Gordon cites a military fact sheet detailing the amenities for terrorists being held at Guantánamo, which notes that doctors provide 66,000 medications per year and 14,000 sick call visits. Detainees also receive dental care and “age-appropriate colon cancer screenings.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is facing a major scandal, as reports surface that the VA falsified information to make it appear that veterans were waiting less time for routine check-ups than they had been. The accusations led to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki testifying before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and widespread calls for Shinseki to resign. Shinseki has stated that he does not have any intentions of resigning over the scandal yet and that the VA under his administration has done “good things.”
The widespread delays in medical care for veterans are believed to have complicated thousands of medical issues for veterans and even led to suicides among those waiting months for a medical appointments. Gordon explains in his column that he believes the VA scandal is one of gross mismanagement and misplaced priorities, using the vast expenses at Guantánamo as an example. Other VA offices have similar stories of mismanagement; in Chicago, for example, the salaries for painters were three times higher than those for quality assurance personnel.
President Obama said that he will “not tolerate” any mismanagement of the VA office, “period,” in a statement this week. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney added this week that the president “has confidence in Secretary Shinseki.”