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Opinion: VA system inadequate to meet veterans’ health care needs

 Opinion: VA system inadequate to meet veterans’ health care needs

The sacrifices they and our family made are real, and a real testament to their commitment to our country.  As we come together to celebrate Veterans Day it is important that we consider how we might repay this commitment with a promise of our own: The promise of access to high-quality, affordable health care.

Understanding the health and particularly mental health needs of our Colorado veterans is the first step toward doing that.  One in eight Coloradans is a veteran.  In general, veterans in Colorado have higher average incomes, have higher levels of educational attainment and are more likely to have health insurance than non-veterans.

However, many veterans are in worse health than members of the general population.  A recent analysis of national data, estimates over 16 percent of all veterans report having limitations in their health such as trouble getting around and living independently, or problems with their vision or hearing.

Nationally veterans have twice the rate of suicide than the general population. In Colorado, the number is even more troubling.  The suicide rate for Colorado veterans is 41.8 deaths per 100,000 people, nearly three times the suicide rate for the general population in Colorado.

Many people erroneously believe that all veterans are eligible for health care through the Veterans Administration system.  In fact, access to Veterans Administration benefits is based on a priority system and the nature of discharge from military services, length of services, service

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