Editorial: We owe our veterans better than this


One of Historic City News’ valued columnists, Michael Isam, is a fellow graduate of Flagler College and a Vietnam veteran. He always has a kind word and hearty handshake for those who have served our country in the military and I consider him a good ambassador to our growing veteran community.

Tuesday night, Michael was admitted to Flagler Hospital about 11:30 p.m. with symptoms of a heart attack. One stent and one balloon later, he began his recovery. He was released to go home Thursday afternoon with prescriptions for blood thinners.

I heard from Michael today and I was shocked to read his account of what happened when he went across the street to the temporary Veterans Community Clinic to obtain his new medicine.

Just so everybody’s clear, I am not a fan of big government, most entitlement programs, public subsidies to private businesses, hiring quotas, and almost everything to do with affirmative action; which has sadly morphed into something that no longer resembles what it was enacted to accomplish.

That said, there are obligations of the government to individuals which have my unwavering support; social security, which is funded by the recipients of the benefits, and the benefits promised to America’s honorable veterans in exchange for their military service. Those are debts that we owe and must be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.

I don’t care what funding you receive, if you are underpaid or overworked. There is no excuse for less than every possible courtesy and the utmost respect for our returned soldiers.

The US Veterans Administration has really dropped the ball with St Johns County’s thousands of veterans who are eligible for medical benefits. The investigation of the fiasco with the existing community clinic will no doubt yield discipline, demotion, or dismissal of some VA employees; and, if there is any justice in the world, civil or criminal penalties for the fraud, waste, as well as the way our veterans and county officials were abused in the process.

According to Michael, within an hour of being released from Flagler Hospital, the nurse for his primary care physician at the VA Community Clinic, whose name he does not know, embarrassed him in front of everyone in the clinic’s lobby.

“I was publicly humiliated for even coming in the door and told the doctor would work me into the schedule on another day if possible,” Isam told me in an e-mail this morning. “She never even bothered to ask what she could do to assist me.”

He says that he explained to the nurse that he needed the medicines prescribed — some right away as they were important to his well-being.

“I was curtly told that they would be delivered by mail in 7 to 10 days,” Isa m said. “I advised her that I knew there were cases where overnight delivery was made and that she or the doctor could make that happen, she brushed it off by saying she did not have that power.”

“I informed the nurse that I was extremely tired of being treated with disrespect and that I did not have to take it,” according to Isam. “I have not been subjected to such humiliation since I returned from Vietnam.”

I called the pharmacy at the Gainesville VA Medical Center for a second opinion, only to be told that the necessary medications I need will “be coming in the mail in 7 to 10 days”.

So much for good patient care or bedside manner.