I’m glad that we are finally getting some attention paid to the scandal at the Veterans Administration. Vox has a rundown:
Flawed policies at the US Department of Veteran Affairs might be hurting — and in some cases killing — American veterans.
The ongoing crisis began after allegations surfaced that poor scheduling practices in a Phoenix, Arizona, VA hospital might have led to the deaths of more than 40 veterans. The issue has drawn national attention, pulling in congressional leaders, veterans’ advocates, and even the Obama administration.
Here’s what was happening: the Phoenix VA was getting backlogged with sick and wounded veterans. Their response to this was to lie about the situation. The created a bogus wait list they could use to claim that veterans were being seen within a couple of weeks of needing a doctor. All the while, they maintained a secret wait list that had the actual wait times, which were frequently months. When wait listed veterans died, they simply struck their name from the secret wait list. And there are hints that his may have been going on at three other location. At least.
The thing is, this really shouldn’t be a surprise. The problems at the VA have been obvious for over a decade. Reason made a video about it last year. The VA has always had issues but those have only gotten worse with the two recent wars. You may remember that someone estimated the long-term cost of the Iraq War might be in the neighborhood of $6 trillion, once veterans benefits and healthcare were factored in? Well, Congress and the VA have not made any allowance for the tens of thousands of wounded coming back from our wars. And this is the result: neglect, secret wait lists, cover-up, scandal.
So far, the response has been to prepare Eric Shinseki for retirement under the nearest convenient bus. But the blame for this can only be partially laid at his door. Part of the blame goes to a Congress that hasn’t given the VA the funds they need. And part of the blame goes to the Administration, who are now acting all surprised that the system they run has problems (and who I’m sure had no reason whatsoever to conceal the failings of the system they have held up as a model for the rest of the country).
This is big. And I’m hoping that this will finally focus some attention on the disgraceful state of the VA.