First let me state that I agree with Mrs. Grimes that indeed “We can do better” in the healthcare provided to our “Wounded Warriors.” However, it would be shortsighted on our part as a nation to imply that the latest revelation regarding the Phoenix VA Hospital is a new occurrence within the VA Hospital system … for it is not.
According to the VA Inspector General reports the VA debacle began under George W. Bush and his administration who were aware of the backlog and secret waiting lists, but failed to fix the problem. The Washington Post in February 2007 reported on the neglect of soldiers waiting for a decision on their military status while housed in squalor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center before being discharged and transferred to the civilian-run VA healthcare system.
The VA inspector general reports that federal officials in the Bush administration knew about the scheme at the heart of the scandal – falsifying VA records to cover up treatment delays – years before the Obama presidency. VA officials first learned of the problems in 2005 when Bush was entering his second term, and the problems went unfixed for the duration of his presidency. The underlying issues date back even further to 1995. In conclusion, this problem existed over a decade before the existing president took office. The issue now should be “how” do we as a nation move forward in correcting this ill-deed to our wounded warriors? This will require the abandonment of partisan politics which, in my opinion, threatens our overall national security by adversely impacting our military readiness and unnecessarily drains our economy with such obtuse political schemes as shutting down our US government at a cost estimated to have exceeded $20 Billion.
Juxtaposed to the issue of adequate and timely healthcare for our wounded warriors is the issue of sufficient funding to achieve that goal. Recently 41 senators from a political party chose to block a $21 billion plan that would have expanded veterans’ benefits and built 27 new VA clinics and facilities over the next 10 years. Yet members from this same political party, who are aware of the history of the VA issues, appeared to be surprised at the recent reported issues surrounding the Phoenix VA healthcare system. Ultimately calling for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki who subsequently submitted his resignation to President Obama to allow for a full investigation and corrective actions without distractions. Although this political party chose not to fund the aforementioned VA bill it attempted to pass legislation which would give businesses a $600 Billion tax cut.
The problem of timely healthcare for our wounded warriors still exists. Going forward it will require the American people/taxpayers to demand appropriate action from each of our representatives via phone calls, letters, town hall meetings hosted by those representatives and ultimately our ballots.