The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association issued the following statement today:
IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff issued the following statement:
“The new IG report on the Phoenix VA is damning and outrageous. It also reveals the need for a criminal investigation. Each day we learn how awful things are in Phoenix and across the country. The VA’s problems are broad and deep – and President Obama and his team haven’t demonstrated they can fix it. As one of only two combat veterans, Senator John McCain’s call for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation is particularly impactful.
Rieckhoff added: “Today’s report makes it painfully clear that the VA does not always have our veterans’ backs. Even before this report came out, IAVA members were losing confidence in Secretary Shinseki and President Obama. At Memorial Day events across the nation, our members voiced outrage, anger, and impatience at the growing VA scandal. This new report only increases the belief that the promise to veterans has been broken. We are sharing this report now with our members and seeking their reaction. In the coming days, we will share the voices of our members with the President, VA leaders and those in Congress.”
The President of the American Legion has stated:
“The question is this: if the administration has known about these issues for at least four years, why is it just now taking action?
“Moreover, the president’s decision to keep Secretary Shinseki at his post is an unfortunate one. The VA has been aware for some time that inappropriate scheduling procedures are widespread among its medical facilities. Yet Secretary Shinseki has taken no initiative in correcting the problem. Veterans continue to die waiting for their health care, senior VA executives continue to get their bonuses, and only after all of this is the secretary now pledging to fix what’s wrong.
“So now America’s veterans are told, in effect, wait a while longer and things will get better. Meanwhile, care is delayed or denied and veterans and their families suffer. Words are nice, and even somewhat comforting, but when will the VA’s house be cleansed of those who are soiling it and dishonoring the system?”
I am a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America. I also work for a VA Medical Center. The VVA has not issued a statement, but I thoroughly agree with the IAVA and the Legion. But, let me give you another side of the story. Not everyone at a VA Medical Center is a high-level executive. Most of us are trying to provide care. I happen to be the Laboratory Manager. There are also nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, surgical technicians, etc., etc. In both of the VA Medical Centers at which I have worked, the number of patients has been going up as well as the number of procedures. This has increased the workload and the stress levels on those actually doing the work. We could use some help.
Nevertheless, I do agree with the veteran organizations. The delay in hiring people, the delay in contracts, the difficult layers of approvals and signatures necessary for even the simplest of actions, adds time and complexity to an already difficult job. It saddens me because I care for my fellow veteran. I hope that this time the investigations will lead to some real action and to a somewhat radical restructuring of the Department of Veterans Affairs.