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Government and Healthcare

Updated on February 24, 2015


In the U.S government system, there are three main branches including executive, judicial, and legislature. Within these systems, there are two main political parties consisting of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. It is generally understood that politicians and party supporters tend to support war proposals made by the Republican Party, for example. By contrast, the Democratic Party leaders and members are likely to be antiwar and tend to favor programs that help low income members of society. Both political parties adhere to the importance of supporting, honoring, and caring for all soldiers. Society values the contributions of veterans, and always attempts to honor and appreciate veterans and individuals who may be serving in the states and other countries. Therefore, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been questioned regarding how soldiers have been treated in relation to receiving healthcare services. A particular personal problem that has been getting significant attention is the Veterans Healthcare Scandal. The gist of this problem is that Veterans Affair has been making it difficult for veterans to make appointments and receive deserved care.
One of the objectives of sociology researchers is to bring change to society by raising awareness of some problems occurring in the lives of veterans to the mainstream awareness. This scandal can be described as an issue and not trouble. Ferrante (2014) defines issue as “a societal matter that affects many people and that can only be explained by larger social forces that transcend the individuals affected” (p.9). Military is aware that veterans’ problems are not necessary trouble. Members of society would agree that soldiers’ diseases and disorders are not self-inflicted; they were the result of fighting on behalf of all Americans. According to Ferrante, trouble is “individual problems, or difficulties, that are attributed to personal shortcomings related to motivation, attitude, ability, character, or bad judgment (p.9). This indicates that military health scandal can explained with functionalist perspective.
The theory of functionalists consists of two components that deal with the influences of social structure and social function in the United States of America. The concept of societal structure means society influences its member to comply with its rules and norms. For example, the structure in question has to do with the military government serving as an entity that provides rules and standards for all soldiers. Another component of functionalists is social function. This is where military implements standards that seek to improve the lives of veterans with psychiatric disorders, physical injuries and psychological issues. Veterans are entitled to healthcare through the benefits package guaranteed in the military.

In this context, the theoretical perspective that would be utilized is functionalist approach. This theory gives explanation to the dynamics of Department of Veterans Affairs in relation to war veterans. This paper seeks to explain two important questions that deal with the kind of level of analysis and some of the core questions deriving from the approach and how they relate to Veterans Affairs context.

Functionalists analyze by observing a social issue from a distance and Ferrante (2014) describes the functionalist perspective as “macro-level orientation” (p.24). They do not take hands-on approach by interacting with the particular problem. They want society and its members to being in agreement in perpetuating core understanding for the next generation. With this understanding, proponents of functionalist perspective would argue that society as a whole was ignorant about difficulties some veterans were experiencing. The majority of social institutions such as family, education, and government thought that procedures were being followed in all facilities of veterans’ hospitals and some veterans had received quality services. However, most members of society had near-sighted perception, metaphorically speaking. In other words, only a small number of people were aware of the specifics of veterans’ problems of receiving healthcare. It is important for society to be aware of the operations of military healthcare system.

In light of the Veterans Affairs scandal, functionalist would argue that government fails to accomplish its ideals. One of the core questions this approach seeks to answer is the historical duration of society. Within the functionalist paradigm, the United States of America represents the context of society. Among several institutions, U.S government depends on the other components of society to perpetuate its offspring, to put it again metaphorically. Ferrante (2014) defines latent functions as “a part’s unanticipated, unrecognized, and unintended effects on an existing social order” (p.24). Manifest functions, another terminology by Ferrante defines as “are a part’s anticipated, recognized, or intended effects on maintaining some social order” (p.24). Instead of the government fulfilling compassionate and caring attitudes toward all veterans (manifest functions); they ended up bringing shame to the government in the mistreatment of some veterans (latent function). U.S. soldiers expect military to be consistent in caring for veterans and they are not exempt from having human emotions.

In the military, soldiers were trained to be disciplined psychologically, physically, spiritually, and mentally. According to Ferrante (2014), manifest dysfunction is “a part’s anticipated disruptions to an existing social order” (p.25). Ivan Lopez, one of the veterans, demonstrated manifest functions by his action. The man requested a leave of absence and he was denied by his supervisors. The military knew that by denying his request, the veterans would demonstrate emotions described by Ferrante (2014) as “feelings that we experience as we relate to other people…” (p.48). He displayed feelings of anger and hostility and entered Fort Hood military post in Texas by murdering three soldiers and injuring sixteen people. By contrast, Ferrante (2014) defines latent dysfunctions as “are the unanticipated disruptions to the existing social order” (p.25). As previously indicated, the Republican Party with its constituents, supported former president George W. Bush, when he declared Iraq War without strong evidence. Some would argue that recent military scandals should have been attributed Bush’s administration. But veterans’ shootings have demonstrated latent dysfunctions during democratic President Obama’s administration.

Functionalists would argue that negative behaviors resulting from latent functions and latent dysfunction help society to bring change. Currently, media outlets continue to report these incidences of soldiers not receiving earned benefits to the mainstream public and the Obama’s Administration is investigating to bring change needed to uphold cultural ideals. Therefore, proponents of functionalist perspective view this dynamic as moving society forward to better future.


Ferrante, J. (2014). Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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