A retired U.S. Marine officer and widely respected commentator on veterans’ issues, Sherman Gillums Jr. has written opinion editorials for the NY Times, The Hill, and Buffalo News publications. He is regularly quoted in national publications, such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Military Times on veterans healthcare issues, and he has testified before Congress as an expert witness on veterans benefits along with appearances on CNN, Fox, CBS News, and C-SPAN on behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America. Sherman is an alum of the University of San Diego and Harvard Business School.
To our country's credit, we now recognize the service and sacrifice of caregivers who bear the burden of helping severely wounded veterans find some semblance of quality of life. The passage of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 allowed the Department of Veterans Affairs to extend services to caregivers of veterans who served during the post-9/11 era. Specifically, these services included a monthly stipend to ease the economic burden, access to healthcare, a support network, and respite care for the caregivers of veterans.
For too many in media and government who talk about bolstering accountability in the Department of Veterans Affairs, the notion is abstract; a talking point that sounds great for pontificating on how veterans ought to be treated. No matter how many times the public hears a congressional or agency official give assurances that change is coming in VA, it remains impossible for many veterans, in their everyday experiences with VA, to reconcile those assurances against continued evidence of a broken system.
Assuming Dr. David Shulkin will be confirmed as the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and all indications leave us no reason to think otherwise, he will face a number of tests within the first 100 days. One of those tests involves DeWayne Hamlin, director of the VA Caribbean Healthcare System in San Juan, Puerto Rico, who was removed from office and federal service on the same day that President Donald Trump was inaugurated.
Under ordinary circumstances, an enemy’s basic intentions are clear: kill or be killed, whether on the front lines of battle or in the red waters of the free market. Far from easy to execute, but fairly easy to understand. But what's a strategist to do when his own forces become so wedded to mediocrity and self preservation that they become cultural norms? When accountability itself becomes the enemy to progress? Where any steps taken to bolster accountability are institutionally thwarted, with a little help from labor unions and pro-employee federal policies?