The VA scandal has passed from the public eye, but here and there I still find ongoing conversations mostly from liberal activists and veterans who carry the torch. The knee jerk reaction was, of course, for the Hon. Mr Shinseki to fall on his sword to “appease” public outrage. Beyond the grand Kabuki theater of it all, no-one has explained to me yet how that will correct the criminal malfeasance ongoing in the bureaucracy today. Oh and here’s a news flash. He came into office knowing there were problems, as did his predecessor, and his predecessor. The Veterans Administration is a branch of the Federal Government that oversees benefits to veterans. Its scope is considerably wider than medical care for the wounded or those eligible for care. It covers pensions, regular and disability, administering programs of veterans’ benefits for veterans, their families, and survivors. It has 280,000 employees. It is very similar to the Social Security Administration. As in SSA, and the DMV, its job is NOT to dispense benefits as much as it is to erect barriers to accessing those benefits from moochers. “How may I help you”? is not a customer service paradigm they use. The screening process for “eligibility” is deliberately designed to discourage applicants. They routinely deny the existence of trauma vets encounter [I.E. Agent Orange for Vietnam vets, and depleted uranium exposure to Gulf war vets]. They often downplay the frequency of PTSD avoiding the diagnosis where possible, and over medicating or incorrectly medicating those that are. The effective strategy has always been, if we don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist. Countless have died from service related disease because they can’t afford the treatment out of pocket. Often routine mistakes as simple as a single typographical error will hold up up approval of benefits for months, sometime years. The primary mission of any large bureaucracy is to find ways to sustain itself. Those they are intended to serve always play an ancillary role.
Homeless veterans fall in a category outside the view of the VA. They don’t file with the IRS, they don’t and often can’t maintain the necessary paperwork demanded of them to get even routine service. So they die, often on the streets they live on. No-one bothers to notice beyond the inconvenience of having to dispose of them hastily so as not to interfere with the bustle of daily commerce. None of them will ever see the ceremony or final respect they earned as veterans.
Will the new chief of Veterans affairs do anything to address these issues? Most assuredly not. There’s no will to change something that the GOP feels is a leverage issue to implement privatization of VA affairs so their capitalist cronies can find ways to profit from it.
Young men and women need to stop volunteering their service for wars they don’t get paid for. I also advocate re-instituting the draft. One other thing. In order to run for federal office, candidates must serve and successfully complete a six year commitment in the Armed Forces. I’m thinking that will thin out some of the assholes.