Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The VA Scandal

You have to laugh. If you don't, you'll cry.

Not only is the VA hospital delaying treatment to our veterans (the average wait time in Phoenix was 115 days, compared to the VA's 14 day requirement), they're now destroying evidence of what they have done. And now we find that some veterans have lain in morgues, unburied, for perhaps 18 months without being buried — whether with or without the honors to which they are entitled.

But it's not just Phoenix. Last I saw, at least 26 VA hospitals are being investigated. It appears at least a number of these were using the same subterfuge to game the VA system. While it is possible these schemes were independently "invented", it is much more likely that these incredibly immoral activities were orchestrated from above — somewhere higher in the Veterans Administration heirarchy.

Here in New Mexico, the VA hospital masked some of its deficiencies by assigning sick veterans to doctors who don't work there. And when they were challenged, their response was like that given to

Retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Renee Sussman. She recounted a telephone conversation with a VA pathologist after a two-month delay in which she was told to “call the president” to take up her problems with the system before being hung up on.

How have the Obama Administration and its allies responded? Senator Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist and chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said "People die every day." Eric Holder's Department of Justice has no plans to investigate, causing White House correspondent Jake Tapper to inquire "How many dead veterans do you need?". Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has passed a dozen VA reform bills, all of which have been blocked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (probably on instructions from the White House of President Barack Obama). The result is that Al Qaeda terrorists being held at Guantanamo get better health care than our veterans.

President Obama's personal response? He says he's "mad as hell" over the VA scandal, which he says he learned about through newspaper reports in recent weeks. But that's not believable.

Barack Obama was briefed on the issues of the Veterans Administration before his inauguration — before he was president — and since. If he really didn't know about these problems, it was a matter of willful ignorance.

Something more is needed. Yes, some of the VA's issues are problems of long standing. But those problems have worsened in the past five years under President Barack Obama. The House Republicans have at least been proposing possible reform actions. But their counterparts in the Senate and the Executive haven't been listening — haven't been talking — haven't been engaged. Saying they're "mad as hell" has been their only response.

It's not enough.

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