The Veterans Administration exists to provide post-service benefits to former members of the armed forces. The target population for these benefits are those who served for a period of time and then left the armed forces altogether. The VA provides a variety of services; medical, home loans, life insurance, educational benefits and many others. The focus these days is on the VA medical service which runs a very large system of hospitals and clinics where unlimited treatment is given gratis to former servicemen who have disabilities that are judged by a VA board to be service connected. Disabilities that are judged to be non-service connected are not eligible for treatment by the VA.
People like me or TTG or any number of others who write on SST are not the target population for the VA medical service although we can use it if we choose to do so. This is the case because we are RETIRED and not FORMER military people. In other words we served long enough to be statutorily eligible to be retired for length of service or wounds. Minimum length of service to be retired for length of service is usually 20 years but it can be well over 30 years as well..
If you are retired from the militry you are still a member of the armed forces. You have been moved from the active to the retired list of your service, but you are still a member. You still hsve the use of various DoD facilities including the medical services of the armed forces. You are eligible for Tricare, the DoD health insurance program. For those retired people who are Medicare eligible Tricare is a second payer after Medicare.
In other words the VA medical service is intended for citizen soldiers who may have residual disabilities from their military service. This is a very large group. There are still over 7million Vietnam era veterans who may have service connected disabilities and thus be eligible. There are many millions potentially eligible from the post 9/11 period.
The VA was created for the purpose of caring for WWI, non-Regular veterans. The system has now existed for over 80 years and has become a thoroughly mature bureaucracy fixed in its ways and unwilling to adapt unless forced to do so. Like many routinized Washington bureacracies it is inhabited by minimally qualified people who hide behind rules and regulations to avoid as much work as possible. The same people are not keen on modern computer driven systems because they would have to learn to master the new system.
The VA needs a massive housecleaning. Retired professional soldiers generally avoid the VA medical service if there is an alternative. The use of their facilities becomes necessary in matters like adjudication of disabilities.
The VA needs to adopt a voucher system for providing civilian health care as a supplement to what it does in its own facilities. The demand for care will probably always exceed "in house" capacity. This drives non-medical bureaucrats to try to game the system in order to avoid blame. pl