A new survey finds that a majority of Americans believe that wounded Iraq war veterans do not receive high quality medical and mental health care.
The perception holds true whether care is provided in the military or by Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospitals once they return to the U.S.
The survey by the Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harris Interactive® finds that a majority of Americans (62 percent) believe that wounded Iraq war veterans do not receive high quality care in military and Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospitals once they return to the U.S.
Similar majorities feel that veterans requiring rehabilitation care and mental health care do not receive high quality care (62 percent and 65 percent respectively). This survey follows a number of recent news stories on the quality of health care provided to Iraq war veterans.
Americans who have a close family member who is serving or has served in the military are just as likely as Americans with no military connection to say that wounded Iraq veterans do not receive high quality care in military and VA hospitals (64 percent versus 59 percent). These Americans with a military connection are slightly more likely than other Americans to say Iraq veterans do not receive high quality rehabilitation (65 percent versus 57 percent) and mental health care (68 percent versus 61 percent).
The quality of medical care that wounded soldiers receive on the front lines in Iraq has gotten more favorable news coverage than the care that war veterans receive in the U.S. Many reports have noted that wounded soldiers who would not have survived their injuries in previous wars are surviving today due to the high quality medical care they receive in Iraq.
Although more Americans feel that wounded soldiers get high quality care on the front lines in Iraq (47 percent) than they do in military hospitals once they return to the U.S. (31 percent), a nearly equal percentage (43 percent) feel they do not get high quality care on the front lines. Ten percent said they do not know.
A majority (60 percent) of Americans feel that the health care wounded Iraq war veterans receive in military and VA hospitals is better (10 percent) or the same (50 percent) compared to what they would receive in other major U.S. hospitals. Just over one-third (36 percent) feel the care is worse. Americans with a family member who is serving or has served in the military have a somewhat more negative opinion of military and VA hospitals (41 percent believe care is worse compared to 29 percent of other Americans).
“Providing quality health care for our soldiers in harm’s way here and abroad is an emotional issue for many Americans,” said Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll®.
“The high level of dissatisfaction with the health care services provided to Iraq veterans could become a significant issue in the presidential election,” said Robert J. Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. “This issue could be particularly significant for voters who have a family connection to the military.”
Source: Harvard School of Public Health