PHOENIX, AZ–The incompetence of government health care continues to be revealed as VA scandals continue to make headlines, but there’s one place a vet can still go to be taken care of. Last week, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona stated vets were receiving better care in prison than at the VA hospital.
As many as 40 veterans have died while waiting to be treated at the Phoenix Veterans Administration Hospital, but no such wait occurs in local jails. Sheriff Joe Arpaio has gone to great lengths to ensure that of the 8,300 inmates under his jurisdiction, the veterans are made a priority.
Last December, Arpaio moved the veterans in one Phoenix jail to a “specialized pod”. There, vets were given expert care to help with PTSD, and were even offered programs to assist with anger management, job training, and housing assistance.
“We have an obligation to do all we can for all those who have worn the uniform in defense of this country,” Arpaio said in a press release. “What has allegedly happened at the VA hospital here is unfortunate. We owe it to these veterans to confirm that the medical care they receive while in the Sheriff’s Office care and custody meets their needs.”
The veterans in prison have overall positive reviews of the care they receive while incarcerated…at least compared to what they dealt with at the local VA hospital. Needs are met quickly in jail, and unlike the VA, treatment is never denied. Access to drug prevention programs is also much easier in prison than at the VA, and veterans feel more prepared to reintegrate into society as a result.
Arpaio’s commitment to the care of those who have served this country appears to be genuine. On Memorial Day, the sheriff visited nearly 100 veterans in the “pod” at west Phoenix’s Towers Jail to thank them for their service.
Of course, this type of treatment of prisoners is atypical, but Arpaio is setting a precedent that the local VA will be forced to meet if it wants to maintain even a shred of credibility as an organization.