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Dr. Schwarz speaks with Stateside on care of veterans

June 13, 2014

Cynthia Canty of Stateside, a Michigan Radio program, interviewed Dr. John J.H. "Joe" Schwarz, a physician and former Republican Congressman, about the Veterans Affairs Administration audit that flagged three Michigan VA medical care facilities—in Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Muskegon—for a close review of practices.

"Three Michigan VA facilities flagged in audit of long wait times and scheduling practices," asks Schwarz and Detroit Free Press Washington reporter Todd Spangler, "what this means to veterans in Michigan."

"The VA has a history replete with problems like these," says Schwarz. While he doesn't think the practices are intentionally malicious, he believes the agency "is probably too large, and it is not organized in ways that accomplish things efficiently." With increasing numbers of veterans to care for, says Schwarz, the VA has been unable to handle the demand.

"In the long run, the whole organization, the whole outfit, is going to have to somehow be taken apart, put back together, reorganized, because it doesn't work," says Schwarz. "We have decades and decades of history showing when the demand becomes too high, the system starts to fall apart." Schwarz is glad that Congress will be taking a hard look at the VA care system, and hopes that the review is done constructively.

Schwarz is a practicing physician in Battle Creek, Michigan, and a lecturer at the Ford School. He served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, and as a Republican member of Congress from 2005 – 2007.