NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

The Mission Act wasn’t built in a day

Walk a mile in my shoes, comes to mind when I hear someone says the word “Veteran.” When people look at veterans, they see a person in uniform who is was willing to put their life on the line to protect this country.

When a child sees a veteran, they see a hero. But do we see what the Veteran sees?

What few people do not know about veterans is the struggle they put up with when it comes to getting the proper health care. With Veteran Affair Health Care building all over the country one would think that Veterans are getting the help they need and yet if we take a deeper look, we find that the VA Health Care system was going through needed attention. Before 2019, scandals and rumors had been making their way to the surface, were becoming increasingly accurate. Speculations of Veterans not receiving the proper treatment they needed. Some Veterans waiting hours and hours to receive their medication prescribed by their healthcare physician. There were even reports of VA Hospitals losing patients due to dismissal which in turn was causing patients to become even more sick, some had even died do to the negligence of the VA Hospital and its staff. Mental Health patients were not getting the help they needed, and reports were coming in that quite a few Veterans were taking their own lives due to the struggle of having not getting the help and guidance they needed.

Then in June of 2019, an act was a passed that would change the way the VA Healthcare System was towards Veterans.

The Mission Act, which was a historic legislation aimed at expanding access to and improving the quality of care for veterans—went into effect. This “Mission Act” was to improve care for all veterans in and out of the hospital. It has been three years since the Mission Act launched forth and life for Veterans seems to be working, but not for all.

An article on, which dates to November 1, 2021, written by Jill Castellano states that a former Navy Reserve Lieutenant by the name of Christine Russell states that the VA had stopped paying for her cancer treatment. With tumors already spreading, the VA had already agreed to pay for her treatments outside the VA in the San Diego, California area back in 2018. Russell, who was having trouble in early February of that same year filled for federal complaints only to receive a letter back stating that she was “disruptive” and there for the VA was no longer going to be paying for her cancer treatments.

“The U.S. is facing urgent demands from veterans for medical and mental health care. Veterans have faced almost 20 million cancelled or delayed health care appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August has caused crisis hotline calls to spike as former service members have struggled to process the unfolding events” reported  Jill Castellano.

Into the present year of 2022, changes to help improve the quality of life at all VA Hospitals have been and are still at work.

Multiple work has gone into making sure that all veterans are getting the proper health care they need, but to quote John Haywood, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The Mission Act is still a slowly growing and change Act that is still young and needs work. Veterans are still needing help being able to guide through the usage of this new legislated act.

“ I am aware of it [THE MISSION ACT]. The biggest issue I think for Veterans is the navigation of how it works.” These are the words stated by Amanda Boyd manager of the Kalispell Vet Center in Montana after I emailed questions about the VA and the Mission Act. Amanda Boyd who has worked for the VA since October of 2016 and is a veteran herself understands that veterans struggle to understand the system and how it operates, and she goes beyond her job to make sure vets get the proper care they need.

She goes on to say, “Some think that it’s an instant processes” she goes on to say, “but unfortunately it is not, there are several steps that must happen for it to be approved.” What Amanda Boyd is talking about is the processes it takes to be able to start receiving appointments outside the VA Healthcare. But not all Veterans want to receive help, when I proposed the question of why Veterans don’t want to receive the help that is given, she had this to say on the matter, “ I think a lot of it must deal with the pride that they still carry from being in the service, and I have been told this a few times from Veterans; they feel that there is someone else is in need of it more, but I always tell them that you did your time and earned the car through the VA. That’s why it was created.”

The future of the VA still has a long road ahead of itself, with many trials and tribulations at hand. The bar has been set and the VA is reaching it and going beyond the call of helping Veterans which is an improvement since before 2019. As the years continue and more service members becoming Veterans the VA Health Care will continue to improve it care for patients and future patients to come.