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If VA Hospitals Were Theme Parks, No One Would Die While Waiting

“Magical,” “top quality,” “fun,” “exciting.” These are just a few adjectives from Disney World reviews online. The vast majority of Disney World and Disneyland’s customers are satisfied—even highly entertained—regardless of their ride wait times (which Disney actually does monitor, and lets customers view on mobile applications).

It only takes a semi-rational person to understand how ridiculous it is to compare a theme park to a government-run health-care system. Unfortunately, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald lost his grip on rationality while uttering this to reporters over breakfast Monday in response to a federal report dinging the agency’s poor service: “When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?”

McDonald is most likely referring to the surveys of VA clinic patients about their level of satisfaction with their care, surveys the VA itself funded and carried out. He also failed to mention that those surveys are only handed out to patients who were actually able to obtain care at a VA facility.

The VA Is a Roller Coaster, Alright

Let’s just pretend for a moment that Veterans Affairs hospitals are amusement parks—just for the sake of the argument. Let’s pretend Disneyland was suffering from the same long wait lists that veterans in the VA system experience. Would it be “amusing” if you could not seem to buy tickets or get into Disney World in a timely manner?

How would you feel about a theme park that canceled your entry without letting you know until you showed up?

How would you feel about a theme park that canceled your entry without letting you know until you showed up? I can tell you from experience that neither “magical” nor “fun” describe this situation. The VA clinic that did this to me didn’t even have a reaction camera to capture the look of pure disdain on my face during the emotional roller coaster I was riding.

How enchanting does McDonald think it is for someone to call the VA suicide hotline only to be sent to voicemail? This has happened to multiple veterans—one of whom took his own life shortly after no one answered his call. Is McDonald even aware that approximately 22 veterans commit suicide every day? I have not been to Disney World since I was about four years old. But I do not recall the rides making anyone want to commit suicide. I mean, maybe the “It’s a Small World” attraction would if you were stuck in there for days. It is highly doubtful you would burn yourself alive right outside of it, as one veteran did at a VA facility in New Jersey.

Death by Negligence? Also Not a Feature of Disney World

If you are a veteran assigned to the VA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you could be exposed to the Legionnaires attraction by drinking…

 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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