Today, as a veteran, I am enraged. I am enraged 40 veterans have died waiting for treatment at a VA facility in Phoenix and we are now hearing there may be more, many more. I am enraged some 400,000 veterans are waiting for their promised benefits. As an American citizen I am enraged by the callous and sometimes lethal disregard demonstrated by incompetent bureaucrats who seemingly care less about the very veterans they are employed to care for, those veterans whose sacrifice have allowed this great country to exist.
Throughout history victorious armies have returned from battle to cheers, accolades and rewards. Citizens have long known their very existence depends on the warriors who come to their defense. Citizens have long known their treasuries, their way of life, their very futures all depend on a strong victorious military. Unlike armies of old, however, our veterans do not seek accolades nor do they seek reward. They just want what has been promised to them.
Here in our country the fact we even have a treasury is because of our powerful military. The fact we have a country is the direct result of our warriors’ willingness to suit up, take up arms and step into harm’s way. Freedom has never been free and we, the people, have a debt. We owe our military and our veterans for their service. We made a promise and we need to keep that promise. The first fruits of our treasury should belong to our military.
With that in mind, can someone please tell me why we have 400,000 veterans waiting for their promised benefits? Can someone tell me why 40 veterans died waiting for promised care? I want an explanation. Who is responsible for this?
Is it the bureaucracy? The Veterans Administration is granted money to do their job. Generally that amount is decided by the budget requests of the administrators of VA medical facilities. So what’s the problem? Is it possible bonuses are paid to administrators who come in under budget? Is it possible some of these administrators care more about their bottom lines than about the veterans in their care? The more money they can wring out of their budgets, the higher their bonus. Who do you suppose suffers from this? Certainly not the administrators.
As a veteran myself, I have received treatment at VA facilities in St. Cloud and across the country. For the most part that care has been exceptional. But not always. Some of the facilities are understaffed. Many have out-of-date equipment. Some are nearly impossible to reach by phone. Appointments for care are often set months into the future. Do these administrators receive big bonuses for “efficiency?” It’s a fair question.
For the majority of my working career I worked as a manager. I learned early on as a manager I was the one responsible for everything that happened, both the good and the bad. Any success was my success but by the same token, any failure was my failure. The same is true for a VA medical facility. The good ones have excellent administrators. The bad ones have something less.
Is it time for a changing of the guard? I think VA head Eric Shinseki has some explaining to do. Some in Congress are demanding his resignation. Personally, I don’t care who runs the show; I just want this mess fixed. This country has made promises and frankly we owe our military and our veterans. America has a debt.