The VA Has Become A Really Terrible Joke

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CNN recently published a scathing report detailing the behavior of a Veterans Affairs office in Phoenix. The office manufactured their records and submitted false reports to higher headquarters to appear as if they were compliant with standards.


Meanwhile, veterans died waiting for healthcare and recognition.

Earlier this year, Task & Purpose brought you a story originally published by the Daily Caller that spoke of a similar practice at the VA’s Los Angeles office. “The VA’s Plan To Beat The Backlog Reportedly Involved Just Destroying Medical Records,” the headline read.

At the time, some remarked that the practice was only one office.

“That headline does not match the details in the piece at all. Actions by one office in 2008 do not reflect on the national strategy developed in 2010,” one commenter said. “Disappointed you would post something so inflammatory.”

I never understood the phrase “I hate to say I told you so.” I absolutely love to say I told you so.

According to  the CNN report’s principal source, a recently retired VA doctor, Dr. Sam Foote, “the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor's appointments for veterans within the computer system.”

This is all wrapped in the context of the VA’s backlog of unanswered disability claims, which had at one point ballooned to more than 600,000, but now rests at roughly 350,000. The backlog is beat in the trenches -- in the VA offices in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and all across the country. That’s why the conduct of individual offices are endemic of the national behavior.

But the critics’ larger point is right -- the buck stops with Eric Shinseki, the Obama Administration’s secretary of Veterans Affairs.

In a piece in Time Magazine more than a year ago, Joe Klein called for Shinseki’s resignation. He said he may not be the right man for the job.

“He is universally regarded as an exemplary man. But even his supporters say he's old-school military, stoic, wary of the press,” Klein wrote. “In any event, he has been in office for four years, and the problems our veterans face are worse than ever--and about to get still worse as the military demobilizes tens of thousands of additional troops in the next few years. It is time for him to step down.”

The time has long passed for Shinseki to right the ship here, or hand the reigns to someone who will.

(U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Alexandria Crawford)

A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.

The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."

Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.

What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.

"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."

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The F-35 Joint Strike Program may be the most expensive weapons program in modern military history, but it looks as though the new border wall is giving the beleaguered aircraft a run for its money.

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(Associated Press/Austin American-Statesman/Jay Janner)

A Texas judge has ruled that a negligence lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense filed by victims of the Sutherland Springs church massacre in 2017 can go forward.

The suit meets the criteria to fall under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows people to seek damages in certain cases if they can prove the U.S. Government was negligent, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Under most circumstances the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects the government from lawsuits, but in this case U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez held that failure of the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense to log shooter Devin Kelley's history of mental health problems and violent behavior in an FBI database made them potentially liable.

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Editor's Note: This article by Amy Bushatz originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT -- Loose lips sink ships, but do they reveal too much about the hugely anticipated "Top Gun" sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick," filmed onboard in February?

Not on this carrier, they don't. Although sailors here dropped a few hints about spotting movie stars around the ship as it was docked in San Diego for the film shoot, no cats — or Tomcats — were let out of the bag.

"I can't talk about that," said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, who commands the Roosevelt.

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(Reuters/Henry Nicholls)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department unveiled 17 new criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday, saying he unlawfully published the names of classified sources and conspired with and assisted ex-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in obtaining access to classified information.

The superseding indictment comes a little more than a month after the Justice Department unsealed a narrower criminal case against Assange.

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