Press-Republican

Guest Column

May 25, 2014

Scandal an affront to America's veterans

On this Memorial Day weekend, and in light of recent events, it’s important to recall what President Lincoln said in his second inaugural address when he affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those wounded in battle and to provide for the families of those who died when he said:

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan.”

The Veterans Administration (VA) chose that statement as its motto; it’s enshrined on a plaque on their headquarters in Washington.

It’s also one superlative mission statement.

It’s also becoming a lie.

Before I go on and wig out, let me make two disclaimers.

First, I am a veteran and the recent scandal involving the VA “explicative” me off.

Second, I have received nothing but outstanding medical care at Plattsburgh’s VA clinic.

For those unaware, a whistleblower accuses the director of the Phoenix VA of keeping a fake waiting list that made it seem as if veterans were receiving appointments within the VA-mandated 14-day timeframe. In reality, the facility kept two sets of books to conceal lengthy delays veterans experienced (some waited over 200 days) before they received an appointment. Subsequently, the General Accounting Office (GAO) discovered that schedulers at four other VA hospitals were also manipulating the system.

In Phoenix, 40 veterans may have died while awaiting treatment.

Sadly, that same VA bureaucrat falsified records and underreported the number of veteran suicides while serving as director of the Spokane VA. Her punishment was being transferred to another VA medical facility, which is a real tribute to the Civil Service system — transfer the problem, don’t fix it.

Accountability is in short supply these days.

By the way, last year she received a base salary of $169,900 and a $9,345 bonus. I guess she received a $250 bounty for each veteran that died. “Gaming the system” pays off.

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