Stand for The Troops (“SFTT”) has long been critical of the manner in which the Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”) treats Veterans with PTSD and TBI. Other critics have singled out long wait times for Veterans seeking treatment and other issues that have prompted Congressional inquiries.
Sadly, one can no longer discuss this issue dispassionately considering that many stakeholders and political candidates seem to be positioning themselves on one side of the debate or the other. With a $170 billion budget and over 200,000 employees, a decision to make the VA more responsive to the needs of Veterans is never a black or white decision.
Like many others, I was appalled by the outburst of J. David Cox, the President of the American Federation of Government Employees, who threatened VA Secretary with “physical violence”
Cox was “prepared to whoop Bob McDonald’s a – -,” he said. “He’s going to start treating us as the labor partner … or we will whoop his a – -, I promise you,”
According to U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Chumuckla, Florida, and the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs as reported in Military.com
The exchange perfectly encapsulates the corrosive influence government union bosses are having on efforts to reform a broken VA. It’s a never-ending cycle in which pliant politicians and federal agency leaders bow to the boss’s demands to preserve the dysfunctional status quo of our federal personnel system, which almost guarantees employment for government bureaucrats no matter how egregious their behavior.
The problem with union bosses like Cox is that they are more interested in protecting misbehaving VA employees than the veterans the department was created to serve.
The problem with VA leaders like McDonald is that, in their perpetual quest to placate big labor’s powers that be, the taxpayers and veterans they are charged with serving are paying the price.
Frankly, it is tough to find fault with Representative Miller’s assessment of the situation. If we want meaningful reform within the VA to provide Veterans with the support they deserve, then we need to confront entitled thugs like David Cox and others that block long overdue change.
It will not be easy, but we must admit that the VA is fragile – if not broken – and we need to fix it to provide Veterans with the level of care they deserve.
Veterans with PTSD and the VA
As regular readers of Stand For the Troops newsletter are aware, we are keenly focused on the level of care and treatment provided to Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.
Based on our research, we have found that the care and treatment provided by the VA leads to no lasting benefit to the thousands of Veterans affected by PTSD and TBI. We reported on this earlier, but it is worthwhile watching a video of Maj. Ben Richard’s explain the failure of the VA to provide meaningful solutions:
It is hardly reassuring that some Veterans find it necessary to swim with sharks as an alternative therapy for PTSD, but it is evident that the lack of responsiveness and credibility of the VA has driven Veterans to embrace other solutions.
The Big Questions for Taxpayers and Government Leaders
Will the much needed reform within the VA be held hostage by self-serving labor leaders like J. David Cox and disingenuous medical practitioners like Dr. David Cifu?
Do we have the courage to change the VA system for the benefit of our brave heroes?
Can we agree to promote VA programs that work, improve those programs that are not effective and reform or radically change existing programs and protocols that simply do not work?
For all Americans, it is time to reflect on the kind of support we truly want to provide to Veterans.