Now to be fair there is new leadership in place and with such a huge mess to clean up there is little doubt that there hasn’t been enough time to see wholesale improvements yet. I’d also like to say that I believe that the majority of people who work for the VA do so because they have a heartfelt desire to help our vets so this is in no way meant to be an indictment of those who are working hard to correct the issues. That having been said, those who were in a position of oversight, appointed leadership and congressional members who sat on Veteran’s Affairs committees, while the VA was allowed to fail in such a fashion should feel great shame in their role in our veterans not receiving their much needed healthcare and beyond that I would go so far as to say that some individuals should in fact face criminal charges.
The latest news to come from the VA is the rather disturbing report that a total of 307,000 veterans have died while waiting for the Department of Veterans Affairs to process their healthcare applications. Allegations of mismanagement at the Veterans Health Administration’s Health Eligibility Center led to an investigation by the VA office of the inspector general. The findings that exactly 867,000 veterans still have their healthcare applications listed as pending in the database is just the beginning of the outrage. The database records go back multiple decades, so many of the applicants would have died some time ago while still waiting for care. The exact dates are unclear, because many, if not most, of the pending applications had no filing dates listed. As a result there are a large number of deceased veterans who remain on the list because the VA has no method in place to remove them.
Bad enough? There’s more. Poor data management prompted VA employees to arbitrarily delete 10,000 records from the database after marking them as complete, even if they were still unfinished and in need of resolution. For example from September 2012 to January 2013 alone, the VA had 11,000 unprocessed applications on hand. And according to the report there is no guidance to establish timelines for application completion. In an effort to fix the issue the VA has already started the process of contacting hundreds of thousands of veterans, asking them to send in new documentation to prove healthcare eligibility. Is it any wonder that our vets are angry and frustrated with this ill-designed, bureaucratic, nightmare system.
How are our vets supposed to get the care they need if they can’t even get past the application part of the process? How can we, the people, allow this kind of inefficient waste continue? This must be fixed or better yet a new system put in place. In the meantime what would be so bad about the common sense solution of our vets getting needed healthcare at regular medical facilities and the VA reimbursing those providers?
Our veterans have already paid the price. Promises were made and should be kept. If our federal government can find billions of dollars to help illegal invaders and foreign governments that hate American, then there are no excuses for not taking care of those to whom we owe so much.