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A Board Of Directors For The VA Will Only Make Things Worse
On Sept. 7, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held “From Tumult To Transformation,” a hearing to review the Commission on Care’s 18-point final report presented to the president via the VA secretary last June. Despite some solid recommendations, such as consolidating community care and revamping the VA’s antiquated IT system, the controversial decision to create a board of directors to govern the VA gained the most attention — a decision that will only reinforce the status quo at the VA and will further add to the politicization of this agency.
The Commission on Care was created as part of the Choice Act, which aimed to address the egregious errors that led to the scandal at the VA hospital in Phoenix in 2014. However, since its inception, the commission has been plagued with disagreements over whether the VA should or should not be privatized — pitting fans of the Veterans Health Administration against Koch brothers-funded members of Concerned Veterans for America and other hospital-industry executives.
The struggle came to a head when one-fifth of the commission members refused to sign the final report due to disagreement over its final recommendations. Because of this, I can only see the recommendation to govern the VA via an unelected board as yet another partisan roadblock that will prevent stakeholders from address pressing issues, as well as further decreasing the VA’s efficiency.
The biggest hurdle for supporters of the board to overcome is its constitutionality. According to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, "Such a board is neither feasible nor advisable for both constitutional and practical reasons."
In a statement released Sept. 1, McDonald noted, "Most problematically, this proposal would seem to establish VHA as an independent agency, which would frustrate ongoing efforts to improve the veteran's experience by integrating veterans health care and services across VA, making it more difficult for veterans to receive the quality care where, when and how they need it."
Commission chairwoman Nancy Schlichting asserts that there could be ways around the constitutionality of the proposal, but has not offered specifics. Without a concrete plan to address the legality of this recommendation, the battle will continue, while issues like the growing appeals backlog continue to grow unnoticed.
Similarly, one of the VA’s biggest current problems is the inability of the secretary to do anything productive without battling one of the largest bureaucracies in the nation. It is difficult to imagine things functioning more smoothly if McDonald has to run everything he does by a hyper-partisan board of unelected officials. This suspicion is only compounded considering one of the least productive congresses put together the original Commission on Care and they couldn’t even agree on their own Commission’s recommendations. The likelihood that a board appointed the same way would somehow achieve better results just seems laughable.
Creating an unelected board of directors to govern the Unites States’ second largest bureaucracy will not solve the problems plaguing the VA. The agency already has a reputation for sluggishly addressing veteran needs, and adding another decision-making layer will not help this. Partisan gridlock in Congress has already harmed veterans. Carrying that into the Department of Veterans Affairs seems more like just another plan to paralyze the VA in an effort to strengthen the privatization argument, not to ensure our heroes get the care the deserve, when they need it.
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.