The bureaucratic red tape continues to wrap around the lives of United States Veterans of the Armed Forces, in record numbers. Recent reports have surfaced, exposing illicit practices of the Veterans Administration. Though President Obama has promised reform in this area, it fails to change the cancer within the government organization that has meant an untimely death for Veterans simply waiting for a medical appointment.
In familiar fashion, officials at the top of the food chain claimed plausible denial, until the public began demanding that heads begin to roll. The Veterans Administration medical facility in Phoenix, Arizona was the first to have the spotlight shined on their scandalous manipulations. Practitioners were not seeing patients in a timely fashion, due to the separate “lists” that originated in clinical offices. The lists that any auditing body or public entity viewed showed the consistent flow of patients being seen within the deadlines. The real list was a backlogged mess that was exponentially more expansive. It was discovered that some lists were even disposed of, if too much time had passed without patients being seen.
The VA website has a good “look and feel,” proudly plastering on the front page “The Future is Now.” Though there will be no future for the veterans who died while waiting for a simple visit to the clinic, the general consensus seems to point toward cognitive dissonance and disbelief.
In a report just released by Oklahoma Senator-R Tom Coburn, over 1,000 Veterans may have died over the last decade, waiting for much needed medical care at VA Medical Care facilities. Senator Coburn is advocating on behalf of soldiers who have been ignored and tossed aside by a collapsing medical system. CBS News reports that Senator Coburn is a physician and a cancer survivor who declared “Just like the VA is cooking the books to make wait times appear shorter, the department is also glossing over the growing number of hospitals with poor medical outcomes…”
With an exponentially growing number of Veterans who require physical and mental health care, there is no room for the inexcusable errors that have plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs. Seemingly perpetual wars in the Middle East and in other global hotspots will guarantee that the number of those who need care will not decrease any time soon. Accountability is a key component in the nightmare that has gone on too long. The resignation last month of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is a step in the right direction. Other officials at the top of the VA food chain have been dismissed in the wake of this scandal. Prior to the break of the news of scandal, these same officials were given bonuses and praised for meeting goals associated with the care of Veterans.