"SOFT APPROACH" TO MANAGEMENT OF SCANDAL PLAGUED AGENCY
A HUMAN DISASTER
By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER
Veterans around the country are waiting for Secretary Eric Shensiki to come to grips with the fact, obvious to all of us in the "real world" that we are in a war.
I don’t mean Iraq and Afghanistan, I mean here at home. We have many times more veterans than we have serving military and many more people in harms way at the hands of rogue elements of the Department of Veterans Affairs than from any foreign enemy.
For every national veterans care scandal, whether "Shreddergate" or "Snoopgate" there is now one every day popping up at one medical center after another. The stories are treated as hundreds of "isolated incidents." The big ones, thousands risk death from infection or incompetent treatment get a day of news, hidden behind the endless circus of petty political bickering that has replaced government in America.
Medicine is only a small part. With an "activist" DVA without the will to police itself or adequately protect patients from "Mengele clones" that lurk among the tens of thousands of highly professional and dedicated employees, a "blame machine" has been put in motion and directed at reprisals against patients.
Only a few veterans have been jailed so far, those a victim of a "juggernaut" capable of manipulating the legal system with the same vigor used to bury scandals and obfuscate before Congress. For the dead and maimed due to medical abuses, taxpayers fund millions in legal fees while Federal Courts allow the VA to hide behind a web of administrative roadblocks which makes them immune to civil or criminal remedies. For every case of malpractice, we have one of willful gross negligence and these acts are crimes, not subjects for debate or lawsuits.
The victims are always the same, veterans, often old, usually poor and invariably unable to protect themselves from betrayal at the hands of a bureaucracy massively funded by taxpayers intent on honoring their obligation to the soldiers who have given so much for their country.
The story doesn’t stop with infected patients or ‘hounded whistleblowers,’ not even close. The DVA is trustee to thousands of acres of land, some of it, such as in Los Angeles, worth billions. Nursing homes, hospitals, golf courses and parks make up a land empire almost rivaling that of the Vatican.
Across the country, veteran land is being sold, leased or given away to enterprises, often seeming ‘non profit’ or altruistic that, under closer scrutiny represent powerful developers or narrow private interests. Instead of focusing on preserving parks and cemeteries or providing housing or needed services for returning veterans, veteran land is used by movie studios, "non profits" or sought by developers. What we allow to be "chipped away" will never be replaced.
One thing each of these projects currently assauting veteran land has in common is backing by a powerful politician in Washington.
Photo Courtesty of Robert Rosebrock
More recently, veterans have become victims of the sham ideological struggle that has created the "liberal vs. conservative" debate that keeps our "talking head" tv and radio filled with hyperbole and inanity. Think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, with tremendous influence over government policy, have labeled veterans services as "entitlements."
This makes veterans care a form of welfare and cutting services to veterans their thru "bait and switch" programs or intimidation, a "core value" for "conservatives." Supporting war as the root of foreign policy and defense spending, normally seen as economically disasterous, is new ground for conservatives whose values have always been based on isolationism, small government and ruralism.
Political labels are little but "spin" and nobody spins for veterans. Every cent spent treating wounded soldiers during wartime could better have been allocated toward building useless, unneeded or defective weapons systems or subidizing research into a better drugs for treating erectile dysfunction.
Why make this political? Politics, over the 8 years of the Bush administration, provided the excuse needed to instill a mean spirited management style even more destructive than the infamouse malaise which has plagued the DVA for decades.
Problems that were being slowly improved through massive and, yes, sometimes wasteful spending are now heading the other way while the massive and wasteful spending goes unabated.
The DVA hires, it trains, it builds and it can and does provide some of the best medical services in the world.
The best doctors and nurses and, to a much lesser extent, some of the best medical administrators in the world work, hand in hand, with the incompetent, the uncaring and and obstructionist management intent on putting patent treatment well behind ‘resource allocation.’
Holding all of this together is a dysfuctional system of complex federal regulations that has woven a net that allows veterans to fall into both economic and physical ruin while camoflaging a system of government, a nation within a nation, that has stripped veterans of even their basic right to legal due process.
Some DVA administrators have more power than judges and their "inspectors" wield more police power than any of our counter-terrorism agencies, even in the post 9/11 environment. Why are few Americans aware of this? Why does Congress do nothing? Why is our "new broom" still in the closet?
Why do mainstream veterans organizations say nothing about these serious problems, pretending they don’t exist. Why is any problem that challenges corruption at the root of our governemental system looked on as an "inconvenient truth?"
Some of the answers can be seen on the Streets of West Los Angeles every Sunday. After a year, the infamous "VA landgrab scandal" still gets only the same few demonstrators. Other than the Military Order of Purple Heart, no organization has done more than subscribe to signing protest letters. When the letters are ignored, most veterans groups act as though they could care less.
In a community with nearly half a million veterans within driving distance, only 5 show up to defend veterans rights. Do we blame veterans and their organizations for ignoring problems, lacking spirit or do we blame our government for being what we have allowed it to become?
Do we blame the delusional and incompetent fanatics within the vast bureaucracy of the VA who have managed to terrorize, not only veterans but their coworkers as well? Do we blame the ideologically twisted politicians who shephered vet hating obstructionists into positions of control in the DVA under a conservative agenda?
Every day, thousands of doctors and nurses, tens of thousands of patients give and receive, all within a sytem that simply requires open eyes, a firm moral foundation and a sense of decency from above to positively impact the lives of so many who suffer so much at the hands of so few.
During World War II, newspapers filled their front pages with news of the war every day. Every battle, every campaign was outlined in detail. Now we have the internet, we have TV and we have learned, as a nation, to simple give up, give in and look away.
If we are going to change as a people, this is a good place to start.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran and regular contributor on political and social issues.
Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades.
Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world’s largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues.
Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than “several” countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.