Memorial Day – A Reminder to Provide Better Care for Living Veterans


Today is Memorial Day, a U.S. holiday. It's a day to honor those who have given their lives in military service.

Lately, the news has had many reminders about our need to provide better care to our living veterans through the overburdened Veterans Administration (VA) medical system.

Thanks to medical advances, more of our wounded troops are surviving injuries that would have been fatal in the past. Recently, I had a chance to visit the Center for the Intrepid, at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio. which provides rehabilitation services for service members who have suffered “amputation, burns, or functional limb loss.” This specialized facility is a big advance from what I saw back in 2005 or so, when I visited BAMC and saw wounded troops learning to walk on artificial limbs in hallways and out in front of the hospital. 

The recent VA scandals (which I'll blog more about sooon) make me think:

  • This shouldn't be a partisan issue.
  • The real scandal is not the cheating and the “gaming of the system” but the long waiting times in and of themselves.
  • These are not medical problems caused by “bad apples,” but rather are very systemic problems for which  top leaders should be held responsible (I support the bi-partisan calls for VA Secretary Shinseki to resign).
  • When individuals are put into a bad position where it's easier to cheat the numbers with “secret waiting lists” than it is to actually fix the underlying system… people will game the system. Senior leaders must be held responsible for this, not the individuals who cheat.

Oh, and it's not a new problem, either. I've been blogging about VA delays for years – delays in mental health care, delays in getting into the system:

Today is a day for remembering the sacrifice of those who have given their lives for our country. It's also a day, hopefully, to reflect on how we can provide the best care (and the most timely care) for our surviving troops and veterans.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articlePodcast #199 – Jeff Gothelf, LeanUX (Lean User Experience) for Software and Lean Startup
Next articleWhen Begging for Customer Service Scores Hurts Customer Service
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.