Personally speaking, I’ve had a great experience at the VA. I’ve taken a couple trips to the ER, had some routine checkups, received quality treatment for a broken finger, and a couple other small things here and there. Many (not all) of the people I have met that complain about the VA are often forgetting to mention the faults of their own — they didn’t show up to an appointment, they tried to exaggerate claims, or they simply like to complain. On top of that, I had known plenty of people who had received just as good care as I had over the years, and they didn’t seem like any wild exceptions.

So when I went into the world of the VA as a journalist, I was a bit skeptical.

However, my evidence is purely anecdotal, and largely based on the fact that I have been lucky to be near certain VAs that do have pretty high standards.

As it would turn out, I discovered not only a wild gap in the quality of care from one VA to the next, but there were larger issues to be dealt with than how rude the nurse at the VA ER is, or the month-long delay in getting your VA ID.

There are serious systemic problems throughout the VA — transplant logistical issues, lack of access to VAs, the crippling bureaucracy, the seemingly infinite disability claims backlog, and of course the infamous “privatization” which allows corrupt officials to make huge sums of money off of the VA system as it exists today.

I have covered several stories in that last category, the most extensive of which was about Dan Martin, a VA engineer who blew the whistle on contracts which were being awarded under less than honest circumstances. Corrupt VA employees were (and still are) making money hand over fist in their deals with third-party contractors, leveraging their positions to their advantage and receiving kickbacks for their efforts, or supporting a family business and profiting off of that.

Read Dan Martin’s full story here.

What has more recently caught my eye is the way in which this corruption has gone on to keep the VA in a place of stagnation. Change in the system, in quality and standards of care, or in the logistical realms of transplants or disability claims — these things seem to be eternally perpetuating problems that the VA makes little-to-no headway on year after year.