Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ernesto Hernandez Fonte
A week or so after last year’s federal government shutdown, I had the extreme displeasure of attending a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing where Secretary Eric Shinseki testified. I say extreme displeasure because what had occurred at the hearing was infantile, to say the least. I was invited to attend the hearing because I was on stand-by to provide a veteran’s perspective on the shutdown’s impact on veterans and their family members. I am thankful that I did not have to testify, because instead of a lesson in civics and the legislative process, I learned how grown men and women, supposed leaders of our great nation, purposely use every tool in their kit bag to push their own personal agendas.
It’s always illuminating to watch the reactions of politicians, pundits and activists following the release of a government report on an issue that captures the public’s attention. Today was no different when the Veterans Affairs Inspector General issued an interim report on the investigation into the VA scandal in Phoenix. With conclusions that “a significant number of schedulers are manipulating the waiting times of established patients” and that “inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide,” the report merely confirmed what I have believed for a long time: The current scandal plaguing the VA office in Phoenix is reflective of a corrupt organization whose members have not only failed in their mission to provide medical care to our nation’s veterans, but have done so in a deliberate manner.
DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
At a Senate hearing last week, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki faced a firestorm from Veterans Affairs committee members and from national veteran service organizations over the recent allegations of a national VA scheduling crisis resulting in serious harm and even death of our nation’s veterans.