- - Friday, May 30, 2014

The editorial “Vouchers for veterans” (May 29) echoes what has been rattling in my head for days: Why is there a separate system for medical care of veterans?

Whether under the Veterans Bureau or the Veterans Administration and now Veterans Affairs, the care of veterans has been riddled with corruption, waste, fraud, poor treatment and shoddy medical practices. Of course, many exceptions exist, but that is the point: They are exceptions.

It seems that the administration of care for veterans suffers from a problem endemic to bureaucracy, primarily the absence of accountability, and thus of motivation. Particularly when it comes to medical care, running a system that is similar to but separate from the private world is enormously expensive. Surely, there would be economies in providing veterans access to the existing network of doctors, clinics and hospitals.

It would not take much to provide our veterans with better medical care. Yes, it would take work to ensure sufficient medical personnel and facilities were available. Yes, it would take work to develop a new system of payments. Yes, it would take work to overcome the inevitable opposition from established interests, but it could be done.

Some systems are broken to the point of being irreparable. Vouchers and free choice for veterans is an idea whose time is long overdue.

ANNE ALLEN

Washington