The Department of Veterans Affairs — formerly the Veterans Administration — started out with a noble mission: Taking care of those who sacrificed for our country. It has become what so many other federal agencies have become — a bloated bureaucratic mess that, for the most part, disrespects the people it was intended to serve.
I’ve seen and heard all kinds of propaganda from the Republican Party and its candidates trying to pin the mess at the VA on Barry Obama. (Our genius of a senior senator, Richard Burr, has decided to pick a fight with the VFW and DAV over all this.)
While I believe a lot of negative stuff can be pinned on Barry, this is not one of them. This three-part series from National Journal points out that the VA’s problems can be traced all the way back to the Kennedy administration.
I’ve talked with a number of friends and family members who have served the country in uniform over the decades about the latest VA hubbub. They’ve told me horror stories about dealing with the agency as far back as the late 60s. The consensus among the group seemed to favor the idea of scrapping VA hospitals in favor of vouchers to allow veterans to get treatment from private facilities close to their homes. THAT has GOT to be more efficient and cost-effective and compassionate than the current mess at the VA. Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL) is planning legislation similar to this idea. His bill will allow any veteran who can’t get treatment within 30 days of his request to see a private specialist of his choice at the VA’s expense. This is a great idea that ought to be passed and utilized as a starting point for eventually phasing out the VA altogether.
Some politicos are screaming for the firing of VA secretary Eric Shinseki. What will that fix? He is a political appointee. Appointees and presidents come and go — but the bureaucrats responsible for a lot of the messes and outrages perpetrated by federal agencies seem to hang around forever to make even more messes. It’s a systematic problem that can’t be fixed with a few cosmetic personnel changes.