According to NBC News, a new report called “The Red Tape Report” by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America came out last February. It said that progress had “stalled” at 400,000 veterans waiting. But in April, the numbers dropped a little more, to 344,000, as reported by The Washington Post.
These numbers are still unacceptable. But the media have allowed President Obama to boast about minor achievements that aren’t achievements at all. He is deceiving the public by choosing the highest point and measuring against it, while ignoring his historical numbers—and the real-life impact of his inaction.
Quite frankly, the Veterans Affairs Department is doing a bad job on disability benefits as well as on the health care waiting lists, which are a travesty. At a nighttime House hearing this week, Philip Matkovsky, representing the Veterans Affairs Department, said that he expects the numbers released regarding veteran health care waiting times will only get worse, given that they are still uncovering the true numbers in light of the systemic fudging of scheduling data.
President Obama should not simply have expressed “regret” over former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation—he should have acted much sooner. And he should deal with the disability backlog instead of claiming false victories that use statistical deceit at the expense of our veterans.
It does seem that the Office of Inspector General is getting serious about the health care waiting list scandal. Richard J. Griffin, Acting Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said at the June 9th hearing that he had sent criminal investigators to 69 locations besides Phoenix to look into allegations of criminal misconduct, and that he was working with the Department of Justice to determine whether the behavior of some employees merits criminal prosecution.
But some in the media like to explain the veterans health care scandal as Congress’ fault, in terms of a lack of funding. “Unlike Benghazi, the IRS and most other GOP-hyped scandals, the VA scandal is real—and now that they’ve got a big scalp, with the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki, they’re sure to be hungry for more, because that’s just the way that they roll,” wrote Paul Rosenberg for Salon. In fact, both Democrats and Republicans expressed their concern about the VA waiting list scandal.
Rosenberg quoted MSNBC’s far-left commentator Rachel Maddow as saying that “…Veterans are treated more like food stamps, or education, or any other kind of funding that Republicans won’t pass in the House and that they will filibuster in the Senate, because they don’t want to pay for it.”
Rosenberg and Maddow were not only commenting on the VA health care scandal; they were commenting on Congress’ treatment of veterans in general. And they’re off the mark.
As Chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Jeff Miller (R-FL) pointed out at the June 9 hearing, “VA has requested and Congress has funded IT enhancements to include a new scheduling system, which has been dubbed a failure by [the Government Accountability Office (GAO)]. The scheduling replacement project was $127 million over nine years, and it was hindered by management weaknesses.”
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