SHOCK, HORROR AND FRAUD AT THE VA

Perhaps, the saddest thing is that I am not surprised. Why should I be? Why should any of us be? After all, it seems like there is another scandal every week.

The latest one involves the quality of healthcare received by veterans at the hands of the Veterans Administration. Regardless of one’s opinion about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan one has to admit that veterans who sacrificed their lives, health and time to fight on behalf of their country deserve the best medical care available. After all, that’s all part of the deal. It is understood that if you get injured while fighting on behalf of your country, your country will take care of you. That includes, among other things, the best medical care available delivered promptly, safely and effectively. No reasonable person would argue with that, right. Sounds fair, right. Well, not so fast.

Apparently, the VA has not been keeping up its share of the bargain. Recently, CNN and other news media outlets have disclosed that many veterans have been subjected to extensive delays in receiving treatment. CNN “broke” the story last November, but it has since gone viral. In some cases, these delays have resulted in the veterans’ death. To make matters worse, there are reports that the VA has altered its records in an effort to hide this malfeasance. At first, this seemed to be confined to the Phoenix area. But, we have now learned that as many as 26 other treatment centers are under investigation for the same practices.

Apparently, the way it works is that records of requests for treatment, rather than being maintained electronically where they can be recorded and tracked officially, are maintained on a secret handwritten list. Therefore, the VA facility’s official records would not show the accurate length of time between the request for treatment and the actual treatment. According to news reports the allowable time limit is two weeks. According to CNN and other reports as many as 1,600 veterans who needed treatment were forced to wait for months. But, because of the secret lists, they were not part of the official record. Many of these veterans actually died while awaiting treatment. Others likely died because they received their treatment too late. Shocking? Yes. Unconscionable? Yes. Fraudulent? Yes. Homicide? Perhaps. Surprising? Not really.

CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION

The Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee, Jeff Miller, has called these disclosures “the tip of the iceberg,” and I have no reason to doubt him. The sub par quality of care delivered by the VA has been an open secret for decades. The substantial influx of wounded and sick veterans from two wars has overwhelmed the VA, which is underfunded and inefficient. The situation has plagued many administrations. It is not solely the fault of the Obama Administration. However, Mr. Obama is acting like this is a new situation, which he needs to “investigate” and “get to the bottom” of the matter. Let us not forget that he made the condition of the VA and veterans benefits a major campaign issue in 2008, and the above practices were disclosed in an internal VA memo in 2010. Now, he acts like he is being made cognizant of it for the first time. He will “not tolerate it,” and he will hold those responsible “accountable.” If all this sounds familiar, it is because it is. We heard it with Fast and Furious, the IRS, Benghazi, Obamacare roll-out, and other scandals. In NONE of those other cases have we “gotten to the bottom” of the matter and “held those responsible accountable.”

So, at least in this case, to be fair Mr. Obama did not create the problem. But, he has failed to address and resolve it. Furthermore, his response to it has been disingenuous at the very least. This is what frustrates independent-thinking Americans. The facts are never disclosed. The matter is never resolved. No one is ever held accountable. Should we expect this to be any different?

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