Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Reposting, from Veterans Day 2013

What we said about the VA scandal -- seven months ago

Reposting, from Veterans Day 2013



It's bizarre that one or two frequent -- and I mean frequent -- commenters are obsessed on the idea that I never blog about Memorial Day and Veterans Day when, although I probably have missed a time or two, I think I'm batting at least 12-13 out of 16 since I started blogging regularly in 2005. It's hard to prove, though, because a) the old management destroyed my first four years of blog posts, because of technological expediency/laziness b) they've now made new archives impossibly hard to find and with low Google search rankings to boot. So go ahead and believe I've never written about them...whatever.

I did want to share what I wrote on Veterans Day last year, because it might be, dare I say it, relevant to today's news. Here's a link, but I'm reprinting the whole thing:

Nov. 11 is a day for remembering America's remarkable veterans, but as this Daily News editorial points out, it's increasingly a day for remembering now badly the American body politics treat them:

For example, one of the most reported failings is the huge backlog in disability claims being handled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. In March, the backlog of claims that were in the system for more than 120 days peaked at 611,073 claims, according to a Reuters report. The Department of Veterans Affairs managed to make a dent in that backlog, processing 200,000 claims. V.A. chief Eric Shinseki said that the department is on target to eliminate it by 2015.

Keep in mind: These are claims for veterans returning from war with a host of problems, including posttraumatic stress disorder, brain injuries and other disabilities. Any wait for help is horrendous, but the wait time on many claims is unconscionable: in some large cities like Philadelphia, vets wait for over a year for claims to be processed. (And a recent Washington Post report suggests that the race to clean up the claims backlog is creating a large new backlog in appeals.) Part of the delays are due to antiquated systems in the Veterans Affairs office, with the majority of paperwork still in hard copy.

This, the editorial notes, in addition to astronomical suicide rates among returning veterans, and increasing poverty, homelessness, and unemployment. That's a disgrace. There's two words we should say to every veteran today -- and that is "Thank you."

It shouldn't be, "We're sorry."

I realize this won't satisfy the commenterati, since I didn't note in my blog post that the backlog is occurring because President Obama is a Kenyan-born communist who hates America, hates the troops and wants to see them suffer.* But it does show the horrible problems at the Veterans Administration have been hiding in plain sight for months.

Today Obama appeared before the media to say of the VA backlog scandal, in which some veterans have died awaiting medical treatment, that "I will not stand for it — not as commander in chief but also not as an American." OK, but shame on Obama for waiting too long to put this festering problem on the front burner. Also, shame on his predecessors for their lack of attention to veterans and their needs, and shame on Congress for underfunding the VA while holding a gazillion hearings on Benghazi. Maybe Obama, one of the nation's last remaining daily newspaper readers, should take an extra minute or two to read the Daily News editorial page...he might learn something about the government he allegedly oversees.

* Sarcasm.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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