No, fewer veterans is not the answer. I retired in 1987, recalled for Desert Storm and re-retired after. Believe it or not, things were actually worse in the late 80s than they are now, but the media would not report it. Longer waits for appointments then, fewer specialists, lousy equipment. Under Bush 43 after 9/11 there was a massive influx of cash which improved thugs for a while until the flush wore off and things went back to normal. VA employees returned to their surly selves (not all, mind you, but about half) and the VA began thinking up excuses for not treating you for nonlethal conditions so they could improve their numbers and get bonuses. Then it moved on to denying treatment without really denying it (invisible waiting lists are but the tip of the iceberg) to get more and bigger bonuses. Any nurse of Dr who told tales out of school was severely punished or fired. Since the VA uses a TON of foreign doctors, they would do almost anything to be allowed to stay in practice in the VA until they had fulfilled their residency requirements. The neurologist at my local VA, for example, had to have his nurse with him at all times as she spoke Mandarin and his English was so bad that if she was not there to translate, he could not see patients. And the same VA had a scandal back in the 90s of doctors falsifying their specialty certifications and the VA not checking them, so you had non-certified doctors treating specialty patients and doing a poor job of it. At another VA I had to go to for treatment, they didn’t have enough VA doctors to cover the evening and weekend shifts so they “borrowed” foreign doctors on internships to the Ohio State University school of medicine to cover the wards o evenings and weekends. These doctors had never seen you before and would never see you again as the next evening or weekend they’d bring in another load by bus and turn them loose, unsupervised, on the veterans in the VA hospitals.
The VA had been quite rotten for quite some time. Making fewer veterans will not solve the problem. As a government agency they are inefficient, wasteful, uncaring (institutionally speaking), and incompetent. The system is rife with corruption, fraud and abuse, as we have seen. It would be better to simply give each veteran a medical card like welfare people get and let the civilian medical industry take care of them. That way you don’t have to drive 50 or more miles to be seen by a Dr or PA or go over 150 miles round trip (and i some cases, one way) to the nearest VA hospital which actually performs surgery.