The legislative fix has been passed and signed into law, along with a generous appropriation of new money. Also, a new top person has been named and confirmed. So time to move on from the VA and its woes. But before doing so, consider the magnitude of the problems and their duration. As Brad Schrade of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:
By July 2012, the backlog of veterans whose applications were in so-called pending status had grown to 848,699, according to an internal VA analysis. VA’s backlog of pending health care applications had festered for more than a decade, and ... new online applications made the problem worse.
As many as 47,786 veterans whose applications languished in the pending application pool had died, according to the VA’s own records of deceased servicemen and women. Had any of them died because they failed to gain access to VA health care …?
According to Schrade, the source of the problem was a new, online system which the VA claimed was the best way to apply for benefits but that sent applicants into digital limbo. One analyst became aware of the problem and:
... prodded her superiors at the VA to solve the crisis in pending applications and fix the online system. Instead, the superiors ignored her warnings, she said, and continued to tell veterans that the online application was the fastest, easiest way to apply for VA health care.
Government. The things we do together.