Scandal are forgotten, but so are the problems as vets still wait for care

** Originally published by Michael “Vass” Vasquez at Binghamton Political Buzz **

Dept of Veteran Affairs

Just a year ago there were different outrages that the nation was embroiled in. During the summer of 2014, the Obama Administration was reeling from scandal after scandal. NSA privacy violations, IRS punishment for political activism, ISIS sweeping across Iraq, and for many the worst was the news involving out veterans. President Obama stood before the public, time after time, stating that a change must occur because the nation cannot allow such problems to remain.

It’s now the summer of 2015. The headlines have moved on and the lofty promises mostly forgotten. The news cycle is filled with the campaign promises of 14 presidential hopefuls, and the ever diminishing call for action by a lame-duck President. But has there been change?

ISIS remains a force to be reckoned with in Iraq and Syria. Since the start of the air strikes the 40 nation coalition that was so steadfast and assured of victory via drones and air strikes, have come back to the conference table as a group of 24 nations – missing the US Secretary of State John Kerry. ISIS has made key victories in Syria, weakening that nation to 2013 levels. In Iraq, a focal point of the coalition, Ramadi fell almost without a fight.

The NSA, who just a year ago July 2014, faced a review that determined that “…the government doesn’t know precisely how much data and content of Americans’ communications is being collected.” Recommendations for change were made, and with the blessing of President Obama ignored. Until an appeals court in May 2015, found the activity of spying on Americans to be illegal. Yet it is the Obama Administration that is fighting to get the NSA back to its business of copying Americans internet data, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (a secret court created by the Patriot Act) may be all the help the Obama Administration needs.

But the big thing in 2014 was the way veterans were being treated by the Veterans Administration (VA). 35 veterans had died, possibly more. 120,000 veterans were waiting months for medical treatment, some never receiving it. The FBI started an investigation of criminal wrongdoing. President Obama pushed for changes at the VA.

By February 2015 warning signs had already appeared. The new head of the VA, Secretary Robert McDonald, was appearing before Congress and spreading falsehood that Politifact could only call “False“. This of course was the good news. According to the New York Times on June 20, 2015,

“The number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is now 50 percent higher than it was during the height of last year’s problems, department officials say.”

As bad as that news is, the problem may be even worse. Not only are more veterans waiting for medical treatment, but some may even be excluded from treatment. In a page straight from Sarah Palin’s warning on ‘death panels’, the VA is now considering withholding treatment for Hepatitis C from terminal patients and rationing treatment for other veterans.

The problem of course is money. The VA, pushed by the Obama Administration and Congress, enacted programs to send veterans waiting the longest for treatment to outside doctors. The cost of the care that the Government could not provide, coupled with increased demand, the need for prosthetic limbs and the Hepatitis C vaccine have pushed the VA to its budget limits. Of course wasteful spending is always a problem for the government, and at the Dallas VA center (as at least one example) that is also contributing to the problem to the amount of $400,000 according to CBS News on June 19, 2015.


According to the same NY Times article,

“But many experts say the principal problems were a shortage of doctors and nurses in the system, the nation’s largest integrated health care organization, and a lack of office space for patient care — while demand rose sharply from aging Vietnam War veterans and service members from Iraq and Afghanistan.”

So once again, a lack of vision and poor planning has resulted in yet another failure. So far the headlines in the mass media are fixated on other issues. Yet a real concern for many veterans is how many more must die this time before the media pays attention and a real, well-planned, solution is implemented instead of a short-term election cycle quick fix.

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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