This, as Lisa Rein of the Washington Post writes, is how Senator Charles Grassley describes the VA. Which, as Emily Wax-Thibodeaux – also of the Washington Post – reports, is performing no better now than it was a year ago with:
... the number of veterans on wait lists to be treated for everything from Hepatitis C to post-traumatic stress is 50 percent higher than at the same time last year, according to VA data.
With a “budget hearing scheduled for Thursday, VA leaders also warned that they are facing a $2.6 billion budget shortfall. They said they may have to start a hiring freeze or furloughs unless funding is reallocated for the federal government’s second-largest department.”
The failure of the VA begins to seem like something that is not fixable by any of the tools that are available. Hard not to feel that, short of truly radical reform, things are hopeless. Especially when:
According to internal VA memos, hospitals across the country have run out of money for treatment of new life-saving medicines for Hepatitis C. Wait lists are being maintained at most facilities along with a controversial directive to delay treating patients who have fatal illnesses.
Which is one sure way to pare down those waiting lists.
The government doesn’t seem to have many good days, these days. If it isn’t a vast hacking of its employees’ personal information by, presumably, the Chinese, then it is the revelation that the people who are supposed to keep air travel safe, the crack agents of the TSA, missed some 95 percent of the dummy bombs that a task force attempted to slip by them in a recent test. Ninety-five percent.
A year after news broke of the waiting list scandal at the Veterans Affairs medical facility in Phoenix, Arizona, President Obama finally visited the facility in March. And while they didn't quite roll out the red carpet for the president, they did clean the floors -- and spent $5,000 to do it.
The Veterans Affairs secretary lied about serving in the special forces, a report in the Huffington Post alleges.
"Robert McDonald, the secretary of veterans affairs, wrongly claimed in a videotaped comment earlier this year that he served in special operations forces, the most elite units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s," the report reads.
There were lots of what they call “takeaways” in the speech. That’s the way that crack speechwriters craft them and the way crack correspondents report them. Most of those lines just roll over the rest of us. But there was one, last night, that jumped out at you.
If you work for the government and you don’t stay on the straight and narrow, then you risk being told to go home and take some time off … with pay and benefits. Might be for three months to a year – time enough to catch up on those overdue home improvement project. Could be for one to three years. Long enough to write that novel you’ve been thinking about.
Problems at the VA were largely – but not entirely – in the realm of scheduling. No one argued in favor the current system, which had veterans waiting in line for medical attention for months and even years. Even if the supervisors who cooked the books and paid themselves bonuses were all shown the door, the system would not be working as it should until the scheduling SNAFUs had been dealt with.
Democrat Bruce Braley says those who want to know his commitment to our nation's veterans need only look at the website of his Senate campaign.
"If people want to know my true record on standing up for veterans, they can go to my website and look at Braley Truth Team where it lays out all of the things I've done for veterans in eight years," said the Iowa congressman in his debate this weekend with his GOP opponent, state senator Joni Ernst.