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VA: THE HUMAN COST OF WAR

What to know: What an embarrassment our VA Health Care is.
Recommended age 15-18
60 minutes
DVD
PBS DISTRIBUTION
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The title speaks for itself. There's an old saying, "out of sight, out of mind." This DVD brings the cost of war into view, particularly for our returning soldiers. From the very beginning, we see the ravages of war. Generally, non military people have no idea of the affects of war. This DVD makes it clear and personal. The program begins with retired Army intelligence officer Daniel Somers' suicide note, read by his parents, which is a wake up call. It goes on to discuss the physical and mental effects of war on soldiers and the lack of help veterans receive from the Federal Government, which should be better prepared to help these soldiers returning from war zones. It addresses how many politicians don't want to face the reality of this problem.

The Veterans Administration is the second largest government agency and one of the most mismanaged. Over 57,000 veterans must wait three months or longer just to get a doctor's appointment. When they finally see a doctor, most often the doctor prescribes pills, pills and more pills. In 2014, 800,000 veterans' applications went unprocessed. 10,000 applications were lost. Over 307,000 veterans died waiting for help. This is very, very wrong! In 1996, Congress authorized outpatient clinics, but the demand outstripped the supply. In 1975, there were two million veterans over the age of 65. In 2016, there were 10 million vets! Our healthcare system for our veterans must be improved. This DVD reveals the shameful situation the VA is in today.

Young adults should question and investigate the material presented in this DVD, especially those considering joining the armed forces. It is shameful how the government treats its returning soldiers who have given their all and returned home half the person they were when they left. This is educational and a socially conscience piece. It is an eye-opener for the general public, many of whom may not a clue of how dismal the situation is for our vets. They have no idea how ill equipped the VA is to handle medical or mental health issues on a timely basis. Since 2013, we have had almost 20 vet suicides a day, because of the lack of appropriate health care.

As a nation, we should be questioning our Congressmen and women as well as local officials in regards to VA services. It's not just the physical affects of war that are killing our vets, but the mental and emotion illness as well. Suicide rates are very high among soldiers returning from war and who have not gotten any help from doctors to adjust to living with themselves after their wartime experiences. There aren't enough doctors to care for these soldiers once they leave the service. The Federal Government dropped the ball on taking care of returning soldiers and every one is paying the price. We have to do better.

I found the information in this DVD to be extremely disturbing and hence, reluctantly recommend it to older teens, ages 15 to 18. It is really most suited to adults. However, those teens considering joining the service would benefit greatly from this. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It is well produced and available now on DVD from PBS Distribution. Reviewed by Tina B., KIDS FIRST! juror.

VA: The Human Cost of War takes a broad look at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - examining the organization's history, leadership, structure, funding and relationship to veterans. The film chronicles, in depth and often in wrenching detail, the workings of this crucial but at times beleaguered American institution.
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