There is a saying that “bad news only gets worse over time.” That maxim is very appropriate when it comes the situation with own our Veterans Administration. It’s a situation that’s devolved into a deplorable and embarrassing incidence of dismissal and neglect of our men and women who were willing to make the “last full measure of devotion.”
As reported by Fox News:
The Veterans Affairs administration spent $20 million on expensive artwork and sculptures amidst the healthcare scandal, where thousands of veterans died waiting to see doctors.
The taxpayer watchdog group Open the Books teamed up with COX Media Washington, D.C., for an oversight report on spending at the VA, finding numerous frivolous expenditures on artwork, including six-figure dollar sculptures at facilities for the blind.
“In the now-infamous VA scandal of 2012-2015, the nation was appalled to learn that 1,000 veterans died while waiting to see a doctor,” wrote Adam Andrzejewski, the founder and CEO of Open the Books, in an editorial for Forbes. “Tragically, many calls to the suicide assistance hotline were answered by voicemail. The health claim appeals process was known as ‘the hamster wheel’ and the appointment books were cooked in seven of every ten clinics.”“Yet, in the midst of these horrific failings the VA managed to spend $20 million on high-end art over the last ten years—with $16 million spent during the Obama years,” Andrzejewski said. The VA spent $21,000 for a 27 foot fake Christmas tree; $32,000 for 62 “local image” pictures for the San Francisco VA; and $115,600 for “art consultants” for the Palo Alto facility.
A “rock sculpture” cost taxpayers $482,960, and more than a half a million dollars were spent for sculptures for veterans that could not see them.
“In an ironic vignette, at a healthcare facility dedicated to serving blind veterans—the new Palo Alto Polytrauma and Blind Rehabilitation Center—the agency wasted $670,000 on two sculptures no blind veteran can even see,” Andrzejewski said. “The ‘Helmick Sculpture’ cost $385,000 (2014) and a parking garage exterior wall façade by King Ray Studio for the ‘design, fabrication, and installation of the public artwork’ cost $285,000 (2014).”
Needless to say, the situation at the Veterans Administration is not one of needing more funding; it is about waste and misappropriation of funding. Yet we continue to have no response from the Obama administration; no one is held accountable. It should be so disgusting to all Americans that a VA Secretary Bob McDonald can refer to veterans in waiting lines to those waiting for amusement park rides. And what’s even more despicable is having a president who expresses his complete vote of confidence in said secretary. How many more of our treasured Veterans must suffer at the hands of a presidential administration, and ideology, that does not seem to realize the shame of this travesty?
Here’s what needs to happen going forward. We can continue to talk about choice for Veterans, but there’s a culture that needs changing at the VA. What needs to happen is for no less that 65%-70% of key leadership and management positions in the VA to be held by veterans. Every high-level position in the Veterans Administration must be held by Veterans…and we don’t need any more unionized positions at the VA.
There’s only one purpose for the VA and that is to serve the Veterans, not the union. It’s vital that the VA seek out more individuals who’ve served in our Armed Services medical services corps and transition them into continued service in the VA. There are countless medical service professionals that are specialized doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators who have experience with the medical field and also as Veterans. There must also be a level of accountability enabling the firing of individuals who fail to meet required standards, and an evaluation system paralleling the efficiency report system in the military should be implemented.
The person who approved the expenditure of $20M for art while Veterans were dying should be fired, on the spot. Where is the system of audit and checks/balances that should have prevented such a waste of taxpayer dollars when the service to our Veterans was lacking? But furthermore, what has President Obama done to highlight and focus on the VA with an intense spotlight? It appears he may just be too engaged with assaulting his political opposition to worry himself with such trivial matters. After all, we know this is a president who rarely even attends intelligence briefings…and according to the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, LTG Michael Flynn, the president did not meet with him for years.
How difficult would it have been to hear President Obama say he was committing to an internal investigation of his own Veterans Administration? Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw President Obama at the VA — which is just a short walk from the White House? I think we’ve seen more pictures of Obama on golf courses, or before adoring crowds fawning over his empty rhetoric.
And we can’t actually believe anything will change with a Hillary Clinton presidency — especially since she’s admitted this whole “VA scandal” was somewhat overblown — just a made-up Republican issue. Let’s understand the philosophical issue here for progressive socialists: they cannot admit that the VA healthcare system is failing, because it represents their vision of healthcare for the entire Country. A socialized system run by government that’s not based on choice, service, or care — but, rather, an antiquated system of wait lists. As well as a faulty system of medical claims that does not meet the standards required. And imagine, just how many Veterans this system is supposed to serve — less than 3% of our overall population.
How many more stories, bad news, do we have to read or hear about when it comes to our failing Veterans Administration? Where is our national outrage? It’s not something we saw reflected in Philadelphia.
But, we do, as a Nation, have a chance to change this…that is if our Veterans do actually matter.