I am a veteran who has been using Veterans Affairs facilities as my primary source of health care for the past 15 years.

The system may have undergone a dramatic transformation during the past decade ["Revamped Veterans' Health Care Now a Model," front page, Aug. 22], but my health care delivery has gone downhill.

Demand at VA clinics and hospitals has increased, hurting the quality of care. Cutting 12,000 employees and upgrading the computer system has not helped me to see a doctor any faster or get medication any sooner. I have less interaction with my doctor now than I did before all the "quality" changes.

I would like to know where the people who applaud the system get their medical care. It sure isn't waiting all morning in a VA clinic with me.

Of course, it's not patriotic to whine about free health care, but then I never figured when I joined up that I would be sprayed with a toxic chemical while fighting for somebody's freedom and then years later have to be treated for a chronic condition. War is heck, but sometimes peace isn't so hot, either.


Richfield, Minn.


Kenneth W. Kizer deserves credit for implementing a system that greatly improved patient care and recordkeeping in Veterans Affairs hospitals. However, the story should have noted that Dr. Kizer served as undersecretary for health at the Veterans Affairs Department from 1994 to 1999. In other words, this revamped health care system, which could serve as a model for the nation, emerged during the Clinton administration.

Moreover, Dr. Kizer not only raised the level of patient care and recordkeeping, he had the courage and foresight to initiate a systemwide review of medical errors and "adverse events." This was the first such review undertaken by any health care system.