This Life-Saving Group Picks Up The VA’s Slack

  • Source: The Lead
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It’s no surprise that the VA refuses or is unable to provide the medical treatment that our veterans need. Our service members and veterans have sacrificed so much four our nation, and deserve the best care possible. Unfortunately, they are burdened with dangerously long wait times, or outright denied service.

Mike Sformo knew from his time in the United States Navy that something had to change. He started Operation Backbone to cut through the government’s bureaucratic red tape to get our current and former service members the care they need.

Operation Backbone is a private, non-profit, veteran-built and led organization that shares values and goals with the Veterans Administration and the Military Health System. Rather than replacing the VA and the MHS, they seek to partner with them and provide targeted, short-term, state-of-the-art surgical and rehabilitative treatment to complex patients suffering from traumatic brain and spine injuries.

The world is changing, but unfortunately, the treatment given to our service members has fallen behind. The nature of warfare, advances in medical technology, and more treatment options often increase demand for services, place strain on systems, and require patients to experience delayed care, extended wait times and exceed access standards. This is particularly common with very complex injuries. Delays for any reasons, have dramatic life-long impacts on patients and many become addicted to opioids in the process or committing suicide.

To combat this growing problem, Operation Backbone has built a volunteer network of over 200 leading surgeons, specialists, and Professional Athletic Team sports and rehabilitative experts. These medical leaders work with 112 of the nation's most respected private hospitals to provide rapid access to treatment and promptly return patients back to the VA or MHS. The service is non-profit and only seeks to augment the VA and MHS to improve outcomes, access to care, and patient satisfaction.

One person that Operation Backbone helped was Kurt, a special operator who crashed into the trees and the ground following a parachute malfunction. Kurt became addicted to painkillers, and was not receiving the care or attention he deserved from the VA. Kurt said about Operation Backbone: “You can’t just see a surgeon in the VA, you have to work through the system. I was addicted to prescription pain-killers. Gaps in refills were like detox. Operation Backbone was a Godsend. I learned more from Sformo – Operation Backbone - them in a day than in 15 years fighting to get care.”

Operation Backbone is the kind of organization we need right now. Current and former service members have been ignored for far too long. Whether they need life-saving surgery, rehab from service-related injuries, or help beating a drug addiction, Operation Backbone is stepping up where the VA and MHS have fallen short.

Just take it from another special operator that was saved by Mike and his team. “If not for Operation Backbone, I’d be dead. I was addicted to prescription narcotics and tired of being a burden to my family. Backbone saved my life.”

To learn more about the life-saving work of Operation Backbone, please click here.

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