The VA is no Disneyland
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Disneyland, that magical brainchild of Walt Disney himself, the place where fantasy and real life become blurred and dreams come true. Ah yes, the thrill of being a child and seeing your favorite characters come to life; where wonderment and imagination take shape right before your very eyes. That paradise where fantasy takes shape and you know the world is right. Parents see their children's dreams come alive as they meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Minnie, Cinderella, Snow White and the whole gang.

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Well, I can tell you firsthand that Disneyland is in no way, shape or form anything like being in the queue at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. To compare the two — as VA Secretary Bob McDonald did — is a clear and blatant disregard for what it is actually like to be a veteran wandering the maze that is the VA hospital system.

If you've never had the pleasure of visiting a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospital, I suggest you take some time out of your day and do so. You will meet some of this country's greatest treasures. The stories they tell will make you proud to be an American. Conversely, the trials and tribulations they face on a day-to-day basis will make you fume and wonder how we allow what they are going through to happen. For many of our veterans, the VHA is their primary source of medical care. If you have ever been curious as to what a true single-payer medical system looks like, here is your chance to peek behind the veil.

Comparing VA appointment wait-times to the lines at Disneyland is like comparing Social Security to free hat day at Wrigley Field. It just goes to show how out of touch the administration is with our nation's warriors. McDonald must have vacation on the brain. (Speaking of vacation, if you are a veteran and are looking to schedule an appointment, you just might have time to squeeze in a little vacation yourself before you can actually be seen by your physician.)

One thing to keep in mind: Not all VHA hospitals are the same. Your level of care can change dramatically from location to location. Some are doing amazing things — others, not so much. Now, I don't claim to know how to best run an organization that has 150 medical facilities, 1,400 outpatient clinics and 53,000 licensed healthcare workers who see over 8 million veterans a year; but what I do know is that in private medicine, it is bad business practice to have your patients dying to see you — literally.

What our veterans have to endure with the VHA is atrocious. These great men and women have shed blood, sweat and tears for our nation. Some volunteered, some did not, but they all served and did their duty and answered the call of their country. Now, when they go to get the healthcare they were promised, the system fails many of them. I challenge each reader to be the voice of those who gallantly stood in harm's way to ensure we had peace at home. They deserve no less.

Sosamon is executive director of Honor Courage Commitment, Inc.