Honor Our Nation’s Heroes by Reducing Wait Times for Veteran Health

Veterans have served and sacrificed so much for our nation. They deserve the highest quality health care at VA facilities. This Veterans Day, let’s ask the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure veterans get the care they need- now.

When it comes to receiving surgical and pain management treatments, timely access to care saves veteran lives and prevents needless pain. Yet, dating back as far as 2017, the evidence has shown shortages of anesthesia providers have caused unacceptable delays in scheduling surgeries and appointments for pain care.

The VA has the power to solve this issue. They can grant Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), advanced practice nurses trained to deliver high-quality anesthesia care, with the same practice authority they have in all branches of the US military, dating back to World War I.

Across the nation, nurse anesthetists already administer more than 50 million anesthetics to patients every year. CRNAs treat patients in a variety of settings – from surgical centers to hospitals. Within the VA health system, 1,000-plus nurse anesthetists provide veterans care they can count on. CRNAs are ready to do more to reduce veteran wait times, but they need the VA to authorize them to do so.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA allowed these advanced practice nurses full practice authority in some facilities to ensure that the VA had sufficient skilled providers. This temporary decision was a success, and it is time for the VA to permanently grant veterans direct access to nurse anesthetists throughout its healthcare system.

How can you honor veterans this Veterans Day? Write to Congress and the VA and encourage them to reduce wait times for surgical and pain care in the VA. A recent survey found nearly 1 in 4 veterans are already waiting too long for the care they deserve – and of these, 13% say that their wait time was a significant problem for their health. Together, we can ensure veterans get the care they need and deserve – now. Tell your policymakers, veterans need care now. Want to learn more? Watch our video.