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Are we really taking care of our veterans?

I recently had the experience of being directly involved in the treatment of someone who was in need of services offered by the Veterans Affairs. Like most Americans, I didn't have a clue as to how the process works, especially in case of an emergency.

Let me say, I'm not going to rail on doctors or staff because, from what I saw, they all hustled and did the best they could, given the availability of staff on a Saturday night. The problem is not the staff, it's the system.

For most of us used to having health insurance and using regular hospitals, the veteran's hospital is an eye opener. I would have thought that complex -- whose massive infrastructure is creeping down University Hill -- would be better equipped to handle life-threatening health crises.

My first emergency room visit was to determine a proper needle for insulin injection, and after waiting from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., the needles were given to the patient. I thought, "oh, they're just busy today," since it was the middle of the week. (By the way, they happened to give him the wrong needles!)

What happened next was like watching a bad medical show on television (to be fair, I don't watch hospital shows since I find nothing entertaining about being sick).

Imagine going through kidney dialysis and realizing partially through the process that the blood is not circulating as it should. In fact, it's pooling, bulging in your arm.

Not to worry, you're told, "just use ice, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, and use heat the following day." That's what they told a veteran at the local dialysis center, where he was sent by the VA while visiting Syracuse from Portland, Maine.

Blood began flowing into his arm, pooling at the arm pit from inside and then cascading internally down the arm, working its way down to his fingers like water filling a balloon.

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