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Saturday, May 24, 2014

This Memorial Day 2014 the Eagle Bows his Head in Shame

We take these allegations seriously. We are closely examining the facts.  We are working tirelessly to get to the bottom of this.  We are deeply concerned.  This is unacceptable. We are prepared to act pending the outcome of our current investigation.  The American people can trust that we will hold folks accountable if these allegations prove to be true. 

Blah... blah...blah...Puke, gag, choke, vomit and blah some more.

Just a bunch of political profanity which morphs into blasphemy when it is used to gloss over the breach of trust committed by the US government regarding the lack of care, cooked books, gross incompetence and what ought to be classified as criminal behavior in the Veterans Administration.  It is an absolute betrayal!!!  It's a betrayal of the men and women who put their lives on hold and at risk to defend our freedoms and protect our interests at home and abroad.  And it's a betrayal of the American people at large. 

We know code for we are a bunch of pencil pushing bureaucrats with our heads up our elbows who will cover for one another every time - all the time - from here to there and everywhere in between - anytime we are in jeopardy of being held accountable.  We know how to decipher your side-stepping, hocus pocus, mumble jumble.  And we know you don't mean it when you say you're mad as hell.  We know you lack common sense, compassion and the ability to be outraged.   We also know you think we will forget.  While we have grown accustomed to your trickery and lies, NOT this time!  We are demanding and will continue to demand accountability and meaningful action from the top down on this one.  No one gets a pass. 

As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, the US federal holiday designated to commemorate the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces, our hearts are heavy and we REALLY are MAD as HELL.  By now, most of you know enough about what they are calling the "VA Scandal" to know that our government has failed us. Review news clips here.

In the wake of the scandal with 26 VA facilities currently under investigation and allegations that 40 veterans died awaiting care in Phoenix, the Obama administration announced yesterday that more veterans will be able to obtain care at private hospitals.  In addition, the VA announced that VA facilities are "enhancing capacity" so that veterans can get care sooner. See Washington Post article here.  

Our response to that is so what!  And we're not sure we believe you! This directive is too little too late and seeing as how we are smack in the middle of Memorial Day weekend, it smells like more political posturing and lip-service.

Washington has been fully aware of the on-going problems within the VA and potential dangers those problems give way to for years. Consider the following excerpt taken from a letter written by the leadership of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to North Carolina Senator Richard Burr this past week: 

"The VFW staff you choose to rebuke and whose principles you have questioned walk the walk.  They've been there, done that and some of them have the scars to show for it.  Collectively, those same staff members have among them more than 47 combat deployments...

Let me assure you Senator, our DC staff does not operate in a vacuum, or independently from its headquarters in Kansas City...We don't act in hopes of grabbing a headline or securing an interview on cable news; our only agenda in this is to ensure the veterans of our nation timely and adequate healthcare...

The fact of the matter is this: every year the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and Paralyzed Veterans of America have been trying to call attention to the issue, warning Congress of the consequences, and trying to work with Congress and VA on solutions.

Each year our organizations build an analysis of VA benefits and services known as the Independent Budget, and each year since 2005 the Independent Budget has warned Congress about the dangers of long wait times and care rationing due to improper resources, oversight and accountability.  Last year, and again this year, then-VFW-Commander-in-Chief John Hamilton and I warned you and both the House and the Senate Veterans Affairs committee about the dangers of long wait times.  This decade of stern warnings has fallen on deaf ears.

There's no doubt that the culture within the VA needs to change.  In a letter to the President, we made it clear that he needed to take immediate steps and ensure necessary authority to Secretary Shinseki that will guarantee the status quo of protecting enmeshed and 'untouchable' bureaucrats within the VA system cannot and will not continue.  We urged him (Obama) to provide him (Shinseki) the authority to impose the strongest disciplinary actions, including removal and prosecution whenever and wherever necessary, on any VA employee who would abdicate their responsibilities and have a hand in the mistreatment or abandonment of those who have earned timely and adequate healthcare."  

In addition to the remedies suggested above in the letter from the VFW, Senior Agenda believes the following measures should be taken:

  • The Justice Department should be involved in the current investigation.  We no longer trust the internal workings of the VA or it's Inspector General. 
  • Stop ALL bonuses to ALL VA employees until we have a better understanding of who is to blame in all of this.
  • Those employees who are currently on paid leave of absence due to their lack of leadership or worse in this scandal should be on leave of absence without pay.
  • Demand a forthcoming, transparent, detailed plan of correction within the next 30 days.  We aren't talking about a 500 page convoluted document and time is of the essence. Get help from the private sector since you obviously don't know how to run a business effectively.   
  • VA leadership should be required to give weekly press conferences and make themselves accessible to the press until we see some light at the end of the tunnel.  
  • Fire VA Chief Eric Shinseki. That's how it works in the real world.  (We know this is not the position of the VFW.  This is our position).  
  • Prosecute everyone involved in cooking the books and looking the other way.           
Happy Memorial Day and God Bless America.