Let me begin by stating what occurs in civilian (and not government run) health care facilities i.e. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in New Hampshire. DHMC and other health care providers are required by the federal government to be Medicare Certified; otherwise they cannot provide services and receive payment for any Medicare or Medicaid patient.
In order to obtain/maintain this certification, DHMC must submit to accreditation surveys. This requires them to submit reports to the accrediting organization (most use the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Health Care Organizations = JCAHO) and host on site visits minimally every 3 years (some facilities are reviewed annually). If the accrediting organization finds deficiencies, the visits and required reporting occur more frequently.
This oversight means that the alleged conditions at Walter Reed would not occur in civilian (and not government run) facility. To my knowledge, there is not this high level of scrutiny in the military facilities as there is in civilian ones.
My rage is: If we really support our troops and veterans, why do we require them to receive care in facilities that lack oversight by an independent (and usually) non government entity? They have little or no choice and no one really knows what the quality of care is since they are not "accredited". It floors me to think of the number of legislators, reporters, actors, etc. that visited our injured soldiers at Walter Reed and no one noticed problems?
Also, the expense of operating two like facilities must be huge. For instance, rather than have all of the Vermont veterans travel to White River Junction to the VA hospital there, why not either have them go 20 minutes further to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and receive state of the art care; or care at their local (accredited) hospital if they so choose.
One of the lessons for me that I draw from the Walter Reed fiasco is this: Government run healthcare does not work. If we move to "universal healthcare" we all will receive the treatment/conditions that the troops at Walter Reed did; or worse.
The answer isn't renovated, bigger and better government facilities. It is allowing our veterans and troops to choose where they receive their care once stateside. And for our sake, let's learn from this and stop the move for government run healthcare!