DOD, the VA, and Getting the Twain to Meet
For the third straight year, we focus an issue of Proceedings on Military Medicine. With the nation at war, few issues have greater resonance with warfighters, their families, andfriends than the promise that they will get the best medical treatment available if they are wounded.
So are they? The answer is yes. And no. There seems to be little question that the doctors and nurses staffing both military and VA hospitals are highly competent. That's the good news. The bad news, as chronicled by contributing editor Art Pine in "The Elusive 'Seamless Transition,'" (page 44), is that moving from the military to the VA system has been a nightmare for many Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen. For some, the bureaucratic mess merits the classic World War II term "snafu" in all its profane glory.
Wars inflict collateral damage. But they also result in collateral benefits, most notably by stimulating medical breakthroughs across a range of maladies, notably in the development of new prosthetic devices and other sensory aids. It is war's bloody silver lining.