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Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 4:00 am

Like many, I have been troubled by the reports coming out of Phoenix about our veterans dying before being seen by the VA Hospital. Even more disturbing for me, was the late response from the Obama Administration and many of our elected officials.

What was more troubling was the Arizona Republic report showing that high-ranking administrators with the VA, including the one under scrutiny in Phoenix have been receiving bonuses. The article pointed to a website, openthebooks.com, which highlighted the fact that Phoenix VA workers alone had received $843,000 in bonuses.

They received the bonuses while allegedly cooking the books to work the system, and provide false data to meet department objectives.

Whistle-blowers have shed light on the fact that veterans have not been receiving proper care, and allegedly some have died over it.

Like many of the controversies that come to light in today’s society, I want to know not only why, but how did it get to this point? How has there been no oversight over a program that is funded with taxpayer dollars for people who truly deserve the treatment and care?

On May 21, President Obama finally spoke up, saying the allegations are being taken seriously and someone must pay. First, it took our president way too long to respond to the issue, and second, this serious issue is now going to be turned into political propaganda and not be taken seriously and repaired as needed.

It’s not just Phoenix under investigation. While all of the facilities involved in the investigation have not be made public, it has been confirmed that similar allegations are being investigated at facilities in San Antonio, Texas, and Fort Collins, Colo.

Senators, such as Arizona’s John McCain, called for an investigation back in April when allegations first came to the surface.

Even though they called for the investigation, I am still left wondering how things got so bad. It also reminds me of an Arizona issue where Child Protective Services somehow mismanaged 6,000 cases, leading to the disbanding of the agency and a creation of a new, supposedly corrective one.

As a society, we have a responsibility to take care of our children, and to support and care for our veterans. Yet, we have whistle-blowers coming out showing time and again how we are doing nothing more than failing them because leadership is dropping the ball.

One veteran’s death due to delayed care is too many, yet there are allegations that there could be a dozen or more. One child’s death because of the system’s negligence is one too many, yet we have stories of many.

The whistle-blower bringing the delayed cared for veterans allegations to light was Dr. Sam Foote, who retired from the Phoenix VA in December. He provided documents he filed with the VA inspector seeking investigations into alleged misconduct from gross mismanagement, to possibly being criminal.

It turns out that apparently these administrators were getting bonuses for reducing wait time. If you need a motive, I think we’ve found it. Cooking the books in the name of money is a likely reason.

However, this behavior doesn’t just start. Someone has to lead it, keep it going and at a higher level, continue turning the blind eye. Unfortunately, the only time the blind eye comes back into focus is when someone has the courage to come forward and make it a public concern covered by the media.

If Foote hadn’t come forward, how long would this have continued?

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2 comments:

  • Ed posted at 2:05 pm on Sat, May 31, 2014.

    Ed Posts: 1

    The shameful treatment of our esteemed veterans is nothing new, though it is disheartening to see yet another partisan article seemingly laying blame at the feet of Barack Obama. Was the author equally outraged during the Walter Reed Hospital scandal in 2007? Does she even remember it? How about the ongoing shoddy treatment of veterans after Vietnam? Korea? WW2? WW1? Prior? VA problems do, indeed, go back that far.

    Instead of shining the light bravely, though, the author chooses in her very first paragraph to practically suggest this is the next Benghazi to lay at the feet of this President. That could not be further from the truth.

    You see, this is an ACTUAL scandal - not one made up to garner votes or accumulate partisan political capital. And this scandal should carve a deep path of destruction deep into both major political parties, across Congress especially, and back through the ages to taint most of the administrations and Congresses of my lifetime.

    It is high time that WE THE PEOPLE break through the partisanship that our elected officials work so hard to maintain (as it is how they keep their jobs, despite the worst performance in history). The first step is in holding reporters accountable to report THE TRUTH, not their politically biased opinions.

     
  • John Flanagan posted at 3:00 pm on Wed, May 28, 2014.

    John Flanagan Posts: 335

    It is a good time to sit back for a moment and remember that the VA has operated under both Democratic and Republican administrations for decades, and yet our elected officials and many agency directors have known little about the details of day to day operations, inept financial management, and the reality of waiting lists and priority vs routine medical care. This recent happening at the VA is like a festering wound, long ignored, and has now become obviously infected. Many people wonder if this would be the case for Obamacare and socialized medicine in America. After all the hand wringing, hearings, resignations, one wonders if real solutions will follow. But to be fair to the truth, private medicine also has waiting lists, lost opportunities, specialists backed up with patients, and probably some people die while waiting to see a doctor. If the Democrats wish to sell socialized medicine, and the Republicans can't do much better, the people and the Vets suffer. Since the VA is a huge monolith, it takes prudent oversight to make it work more efficiently. I really hope our elected officials are up to the task.

     

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