Beyond the Rhetoric and Back to the Basics

The real story on veteran's healthcare

By Brett W. Copeland
VHPI Executive Director

With the congressional gridlock, relentless partisan warfare, and strife up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, you’d think it would be impossible for politicians, healthcare policy-makers, corporate lobbies, and the federal bureaucracy to find anything that unites them. In reality, they all have one thing in common:

Few of them actually know what happens inside the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For instance, most people have never heard of the Veterans Benefits or Veterans Health Administration (two very different agencies) but they immediately recognize “the VA” (the common shorthand for the Department of Veterans Affairs).

Decision-makers, the media, and even veterans can be just as confused as the public when it comes to the VA.

Basic questions like ‘What services does the VA provide and why?’; ‘Who is eligible for VA care and why are some veterans ineligible?’; ‘What is the role of the private and public sectors in the provision of veterans’ healthcare?’; ‘Who decides which veterans get care?’ go unanswered.

When things go wrong — like when a veteran commits suicide or is deprived of critical healthcare — veterans, the media, lawmakers, and the American people are left wondering why it happened and how to solve it.

That’s why we’re launching the Veterans’ Healthcare Policy Institute, a California-based think tank. Through our activities, we’re committed to cutting through the noise, political rhetoric, and hollow promises to examine the real impact of policy on veterans’ healthcare in theory and practice.

Here’s a preview of what you’ll find on this website and our social media channels:

  1. Our Driving the Week newsletter: A roundup of the most important veterans’ healthcare stories of the past week with analysis of the short and long-term impact they’ll have on veterans overall. Delivered to your inbox every Monday. (Sign up for it here).

  2. Just the Facts: Untangling the complexity of the VA through facts, figures, and easy-to-understand explainers and graphics.

  3. The Veteran Voice: Testimonials from veterans about their healthcare with related information on the programs they need and use.

  4. White Papers on Critical Policy Issues: These lengthy, investigative reports will give the information needed to understand things like who is bankrolling privatization efforts, who these efforts benefit, how to create credible metrics to judge the quality of mental health care delivered to veterans, or why the media can’t get the VA story right.

Our organization, originally named ‘Fighting for Veterans’ Healthcare,’ was founded by a group of veterans and their caregivers, healthcare workers, journalists, and patient advocates at the end of 2016. We have, however, decided to focus on our main strength: sober analysis of healthcare policy and treatment outcomes for veterans.

In addition to the four items above, the Veterans Healthcare Policy Institute will roll out other features as we continue to grow. We hope you’ll find these resources valuable as you navigate the complex issues surrounding veterans’ healthcare.

A few things dominate the headlines. Veterans suicide, long waits for care, and the ongoing turmoil at the very top of the agency rightfully dominate the headlines but their causes, effects, and how they're connected are rarely revealed.

We’re committed to helping bring clarity to the discussion and, in the process, elevate the voices of real veterans in the discussion about their healthcare.

Let me know if there’s a certain topic or issue you’d like us to dig into by shooting me an email at VeteransPolicy@gmail.com.

Brett Copeland