Black Veteran Speaks Out on VA Scandal

P21KevinMartin2014As the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to fester, Project 21 member Kevin Martin, a Navy veteran, weighs in on the lack of decisive action on the part of the Obama Administration:

There are plenty of veterans such as myself who have seen President Obama’s public reaction to the growing Department of Veterans Affairs scandal as both political theater and a desperate attempt by this commander-in-chief to cover his posterior.

First of all, it took the President a few weeks to really seem to take a close look into this scandal.  While he says he wants people to believe this is something he just found out about through the press, the truth if the matter is that the Bush Administration warned him about problems at the VA when he was in transition and after he campaigned before that on fixing problems there.

Obama chose to campaign on the narrative of fixing the infrastructure of things such as VA hospitals.  He did not, however, campaign on cutting the massive red tape that is sharing the blame for the reported deaths of more than two dozen veterans over the last six years that are allegedly related to VA neglect.

As National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote in Politico: “If six years into his presidency he has yet to fix the VA he promised to fix before he took office, that’s either an indictment of his presidency or the liberal vision of government or both.”

I don’t put much faith in Obama move of dispatching his deputy chief of staff to try to get to the bottom of the VA’s troubles.  It seems pretty clear that nothing was done to fix the problems that existed at the time he took office.  Nor will these troubles likely end with the Obama Administration.

Several presidencies and Congresses, under the control of both political parties over the decades, have mismanaged the plight of veterans seeking their promised medical benefits.  And they seem to have failed to understand that those problems are inherent in a government-controlled, socialistic health care scheme.
We veterans are also intelligent enough to realize the uncovered incompetence is not limited to just a few hospitals.  The suspect in the tragic Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C. last year is an example of that.  He visited VA facilities for care, but he was never diagnosed properly and was told to follow-up on his VA treatments with his primary-care doctor.

We should be asking how the federal government can be expected to oversee the health care of 330 million Americans when it cannot even provide the same — or less — for nine million military veterans.  Our nation’s veterans often face massive wait times, with some apparently dying while awaiting what can be simple procedures.

It’s particularly upsetting to hear that returning veterans who heroically served our nation and fought the Global War on Terror are now reportedly receiving substandard care while terrorist suspects imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay are allegedly being provided with better care by comparison.

To add insult to injury, there are elected officials on Capitol Hill seeking to delay new laws meant to hold VA officials accountable for the current state of affairs or help prevent future problems.  It is a slap in the face to veterans and their families for our government to provide bonuses to some of the same officials who allegedly cooked the books and kicked veterans’ concerns under the table as they misled lawmakers and public into believing they were providing promised benefits to those who served.

The time for political double-speak from the government has long since passed.  It’s time to hold the VA accountable for its dismal record.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.